Book Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray


The well known artist Basil Hallward has found his muse; The young and beautiful Dorian Gray is astonishing to paint, and never in his life has he painted so perfectly as he does when Dorian Gray models for him. Hallward paints him as a mythological creature and a greek hero. One day, accompanied with his friend – the witted aristocrat Lord Henry, Hallward decides to paint a portrait of Dorian Gray just as he is. The painting is beautiful, beyond anything he has ever painted before. When Dorian Gray sees it, he realizes exactly how beautiful he is and hates that his beauty one day will fade with age. He wishes that the painting would fade instead and that he would have eternal youth; and the wish comes true.

First line of the book: The studio was filled with the rich odour of roses, and when the light summer wind stirred admidst the trees of the garden, there came through the open door the heavy scent of the lilac, or the more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn.

Title: The Picture of Dorian Gray
Author: Oscar Wilde
My edition: E-book edition in Norwegian, published by Vigmostad & Bjørke AS in 2012 with 651 pages (where one page is the size of an Iphone 5). The Original edition came out in 1890.
Age: Adult
Genres: Classics, fiction, horror, british litterature

My first encounter with this book happened about a year ago when I had a part-time job at a beautiful bookstore. A man entered the store, and had that kind of look that I recognize on the customers that knows exactly which book they’re here to buy: And he was looking for The Picture of Dorian Gray. We did’nt have it in store so I had to order it for him, and while I was working on that, the man told me so much about this book and why he needed to have it in his bookshelf and how he read it some years back and loved it. That’s when I decided to put it on my TBR-list. Now, a year after, I suddenly spotted it available in the e-book and it was an easy pick.

The plot of this book is amazing. It sounds so interesting to read about a man with eternal youth, and a portrait that changes when he ages and whenever he does something bad. I can just imagine how it must be like to have this picture of yourself and study it as it changes, it gives me goosebumps just to think about it. That’s what I knew when I started reading, but the book turned out to be so much more than that. This is not just the story of Dorian Gray and his eternal youth and obsession with beauty; This is a story of living a double life, selfishness and the everlasting search for beauty.

First of all I read it in Norwegian, so it’s hard for me to jugde how the original language is like. But I think this is a really good translation, and as I normally don’t like to read translated books, I accepted this one because it is done well. With that being said, I rarely read classics and I still find them a bit more challenging than my usual reads. So because of that, I had to put down the book some times because I became tired of reading. That does not mean that the writing is bad, because it really is not. Wilde is really good at describing the surroundings and it was so easy to picture how everything looked, smelled and the general atmosphere. The conversations between the characters is also really interesting and it’s written really well.

The characters in this book is both what I liked the most about this book, but that’s mainly because I seriously disliked them so much. But in a good way, becuase it is done so good. They are interesting throughout the entire book, and it’s easy to get to know the people and understand how they work.

The main character Dorian Gray is not a likeable person at all. He thinks very highly of himself, he believes that he deserves only good and whenever he has done something immoral, he is able to explain it to himself in a way that makes him feel it’s okay he did it. Throughout the book he does a lot of bad things, and he always feels that he cannot be blamed for it or that he simply had to do it because that’s just the way it is. He also think of himself as a beautiful and fantastic person, and he loves being surrounded by beauty.

The well known painter Basil Hallward is easier to like. He has only good intentions, and takes good pride in having  morals and behaving well. He does not have enemies, and he works very hard with his art, which is admirable. But this also makes him kind of boring; He never does anything that brings action, and he kind of works as the moral compass throughout the story, although he is never able to influence Dorian Gray much.

Then we have my favorite person in this book, Lord Henry Wotton. He is the character that you hate to love, or love to hate. He is a know-it-all that does not care for anything else but his own pleasure. He is the one who influenced Dorian Gray to become what he became. Throughout the book he talks a lot, and he has a ton of theories about life, most of them being immoral and radical in a way that purposely shock and startle the people around him.

The ending is quite good I think, I actually did’nt see it coming and I felt that the actions were fair in a way that pleased me. I’ve actually seen people written many different reasons as to what the ending means, and it’s really interesting to see how much different people have put in the last actions of the book.

I rarely read classics, so it’s a bit hard for me to say if this is a really good book or not. But I’ve judged it based on what I felt when I read it, and have given it three hearts. I thought the book was really interesting, it had a lot of discussion in it that was fascinating to read about and I like how developed the chracters are. That being said, I found it a bit hard to read and had to put it down a few times because this kind of writing-style makes me struggle a little bit more than usual. I’m also used to books with a little more action than this one, so a part of me wanted it to happen a little more, but at the same time I think that the books works perfect just the way it is.

Favorite quote:  “There is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about”





One comment on “Book Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray

  1. […] The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde It’s kind of hard for me to rate classic books because it’s not a genre I’ve read a lot from. Although I really did like The Picture of Dorian Gray and enjoyed some of the conversations and reflections, this book became a little to much conversations and reflections and lacked action for my personal taste. It still is a book I’m glad that I read, and I have some beautiful quotes from it in my Quote-book (yes, I have a notebook where I collect the best quotes from all the books I’ve read. And yes, I am a true nerd) […]


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