I have been weary of reading “classics” because I have found them difficult to read, let alone enjoy, but with the Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde has hit it out of the park. On one level, the story of a Dorian as an impressionable young lad caught in a vortex between Basil Hallward’s approach purity and reason and Lord Henry Wotton’s advocacy to indulge in hedonism is enthralling. On another level, the commentary that Wilde makes on each respective philosophy I found particularly fascinating yet dense. I sense this is a book I’ll be re-reading in short order just because I think there is so much that I missed.

“Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty. There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.”

I forget sometimes that there have been billions of lives lived prior to the days of the internet. The fact that this book was released in 1890 underscored this idea for me, it makes me think of what I am missing by my bias towards reading more contemporary fiction when old fiction probably has equal if not more value.

“What of Art? -It is a malady. —Love? -An illusion. —Religion? -The fashionable substitute for Belief —You are a sceptic. -Never! Scepticism is the beginning of Faith. —What are you? -To define is to limit.”

Verdict

HIGHLY Recommended. If ever there was a classic that I found enjoyable to a modern audience, it is this one. The plight of Dorian Gray is relatable in ways that one might not expect which thus makes the value proposition of his journey that much more captivating.

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