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Book Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray

 

General Thoughts

 

My first impression about this novel was how rich and descriptive the prose was. The opulent lifestyles of the Victorian Era were intricately visualized not only in form but in ideas, emotions, desires, sins, lust and the macabre. This involved poetry and flair in describing perfumery: frankincense, ambergris, violets, musk, champak, roots, woods, spikenard, hovenia and aloes. Or music and musical instruments: gypsies, Tunisians, lutes, copper drums, reeds, brass, Schubert, Chopin, Beethoven, Tannhäuser, juruparis, flutes of human bones, jaspers, clarin, ture, teponaztli, yotl-bells. Or jewels: pearls, chrysoberyl, cymophane, peridot, topaz, carbuncles, spinels, amethysts, ruby, sapphire, sunstone, moonstone, diamond, agate, cornelian, hyacinth, garnet, hydropicus, selenite, meloceus, bezoar and aspilates.

 

There were sweeping philosophical claims or just general social commentaries made by the characters throughout the novel, making me question if they really do talk like that during that time period. This is probably because Oscar Wilde was known as philosophical figure more than a literary one, in my opinion, at least. Although, even if this is Wilde’s only novel, the vibrancy and panache of his narrative, and the mastery with which he built mystery and intrigue around this famous character, are probably some of the reasons why this book is now considered one of the great classics of English literature.

 

Favorite Quotes from the Book

“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world it’s own shame.” -Lord Henry

“You may fancy yourself safe, and think yourself strong. But a chance tone of color in a room or a morning sky, a particular perfume that you had once loved and that brings subtle memories with it, a line from a forgotten poem that you had come across again, a cadence from a piece of music that you had ceased to play – I tell you, Dorian, that it is on things like these that our lives depend. -Lord Henry to Dorian

“We can have in life but one great experience at best, and the secret of life is to reproduce that experience as often as possible.” -Lord Henry to the Duchess of Monmouth

 

Rating

4 out of 5 stars

 

 

Photo courtesy: standardebooks.org

 

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