Book Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray

Title: The Picture of Dorian Gray

By: Oscar Wilde

Genre: Philosophical Fiction, Classic

“There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book.
Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.”
― Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

“In this celebrated work, his only novel, Wilde forged a devastating portrait of the effects of evil and debauchery on a young aesthete in late-19th-century England. Combining elements of the Gothic horror novel and decadent French fiction, the book centers on a striking premise: As Dorian Gray sinks into a life of crime and gross sensuality, his body retains perfect youth and vigor while his recently painted portrait grows day by day into a hideous record of evil, which he must keep hidden from the world. For over a century, this mesmerizing tale of horror and suspense has enjoyed wide popularity. It ranks as one of Wilde’s most important creations and among the classic achievements of its kind.”

– Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Dover Publications; New edition (October 13, 1993), back cover.

This is a tricky one.

The Picture of Dorian Gray is a classic, so I write this honest review with a bit of trepidation.

I have to admit that I started reading this book because I felt duty bound. I went into this abstaining from researching the outcome of the novel, but I probably already knew where it would end subconsciously.

The first three and a half chapters moved slowly for me―particularly, chapter one. This book rates lower for me because of this. As the story progresses it does become more intriguing; however, it lulls shortly after.

Another one of my qualms was the burning question I had of what Dorian Gray had blackmailed Alan Campbell with. It seemed like an important part of the story that could have been mentioned briefly.

After I completed the book I immediately sat through the 2009 film, Dorian Gray.


Whatever I thought was lacking in the novel and was hoping to find in the film―I, unfortunately, did not find. At least it was enjoyable to watch Ben Barnes. I digress…

Overall, I did think that this book presented many philosophies that get the reader thinking about the foundations of his or her own moral compound and it’s no wonder that the novel was considered controversial when it first printed in 1890. The effect the novel had in making me reflect was what I enjoyed most about the novel. Would I read The Picture of Dorian Gray again? Probably not; however, I do think there is philosophical appeal and something to gain from reading this novel at least once.

What did you enjoy about reading The Picture of Dorian Gray?

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