A review by willow_t_r_
The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde

4.0

Okay.
That was much more engaging than I thought it was going to be.

So, first off, I actually didn't realize that I liked the book while I was reading it, which was the strangest experience. I was so caught up in the story and the dialogue and the characters that I really wasn't paying attention to the structure of the book itself, and I never really paused to consider my feelings on the book, as I was so engrossed in the story. It was witty and interesting, and it really made me think about how vanity and beauty are perceived today, which I believe really proves the timelessness of Wilde's commentary and his writing. The book was engaging, and even though I really didn't relate to any whole character in particular (which would usually make a story boring,) I could see reflections of myself or people I knew or society as a whole embodied in the story. Dorian's quest and desire for eternal youth and beauty and his eventual downfall were beautifully written in fast-paced conversations, often accompanied by the character's thoughts, which I think really helped me understand and see the character's motivations and considerations much better.

That said, there were some weird time skips? The beginning of the story almost seems to move day-to-day, but then there is a bit of leap, and suddenly the story picks up time. I usually hate time skips, as I feel they detract from the overall story and can be confusing, but Wilde does it beautifully, using Dorian's various collection obsessions (be it gems or textiles or instruments,) or the changing of the social seasons to illustrate the quick passing of years. The time skips also work within the premise of the story, and serve to demonstrate how, even as those around him age, Dorian remains youthful, with the appearance of innocence and beauty, so I think that they were utilized in a way that overall enhanced the story and really made it incredible.

However...... I really kind of struggled in the beginning, simply because of Lord Henry. His constant sexist tirades were tiring, and I didn't really see what they were trying to add to the story. I spent most of the beginning internally groaning every. single. time. Lord Henry showed up on-page. I thought him interesting, and cynical, and at times, I actually really enjoyed reading his character because I thought it was fascinating to see the way he thought, but then he would launch right back into his "women are inferior" speeches and he would lose me. It just was brought up too often and with such blatant cruelty that it really made me angry.
Like Dorian would be all like: "I'm scared of growing old and losing my innocence and beauty," and Lord Hery would be like: "but the WOMEN though." and I just failed to see the connection. That was my only real complaint though, and in the end, that didn't stop me from liking the book, as I think that Lord Henry was supposed to be written like that, and his character was made to be slightly unsympathetic.

Anyway, this is my first time reading anything of Wilde's, and my first review on Goodreads, and it got way longer than I meant it to....... but my main point is everyone should at least try to read this book at least once in their lives.