#CBR8 Review #1

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

And we’re off to the races! I’m not much of a New Year’s Resolution person (why would I make a goal that I’m most likely not going to keep?), but I have formed a few resolutions for this year’s Cannonball Read:

*Read the 78 books on my shelf that I’ve never read before. I’m in the process of going through Marie Kondo’s method, and trimming the fat on my bookshelves is helping tremendously.

*Re-read some of my favorite series, including Anne of Green Gables and Harry Potter. It’s been several years since I read the Anne books, and I’m due. Also, I want an excuse to read Harry Potter.

*Link CBR Books to my personal blog. I was good about making the links for CBR6, but I did not do a great job for CBR7.

*Keep up with blogging. It’s actually a lot easier to log a high book tally than it is to keep up with the blog posts, so I’m determined not to fall behind this year.

*Keep reading books I’ve been meaning to read for years.

 

The Picture of Dorian Gray is one such book that I’ve had on a reading list for years and years without getting around to reading. Having a nice long winter break is helpful for meeting some of those goals. My only prior experience to Oscar Wilde was watching an adaptation of The Importance of Being Earnest and hearing bout grad student friends’ obsession with him. After reading, I totally understand the obsession, although Wilde is not going to unseat Jane Austen for me.

Dorian Gray is a rich young man sitting for a portrait of himself by the renowned painter Basil Hallward. Hallward’s rich and decadent friend Lord Henry Wotton unwittingly suggests the power of hedonism and vanity to Dorian, and this is where the novel takes its pivotal turn. Dorian’s wish never to grow older than his painting is secretly granted, and all the crimes and immoral deeds that Dorian commits are left out of his physique and transferred to his painting. It’s a morality tale that’s anything but didactic—I was surprised at how unspoiled I was for the book’s shocking parts.

I really enjoyed this book, though I found myself a little reluctant to give it anything more than four stars. The story itself is compelling, but I actually was a bit split on the writing styles in the book. Half of it is relentlessly, wickedly clever, and half of it is decadent in its description. I enjoyed the clever parts very much, but I wish Wilde had trimmed down the decadence. This is a personal taste issue and should not detract from anyone’s overall enjoyment of a compelling book.

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