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Posts Tagged ‘Oscar Wilde’

Adventures in Bookland: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Thursday, December 13th, 2018

To anyone with an imagination, this is a deeply frightening book. For its purpose is to portray the process of damnation, the dazzling path that leads to hell. Yes, the book has other purposes, not least of which is to showcase Wilde’s wit (which does become a little tedious after the 52nd bon mot), and it may have a darker edge in what seems to be a veiled self-portrayal of Wilde himself, in the person of the sophisticated and louche Lord Henry Wotton, as the seducer and tempter, the man who leads Dorian Gray into the bright darkness of his philosophy and, it’s hinted at, darker pleasures. But not just Wotton, Wilde is also Dorian Gray and, as an artist struggling to perfect his craft, he is also Basil Hallward, the man who paints the portrait of Dorian Gray. Thus it’s a triple-sided self-portrait of a man sliding towards the abyss, an abyss that would claim Wilde a few laters when he was dispatched to the purgatory of Reading Gaol. For Wilde, this brought a certain redemption, but for Dorian Gray, there is none.

As I said, under the word glitter that Wilde’s skill scatters over the book, this is a deeply frightening story.