As a young man an artist paints a picture of Dorian Gray. Upon seeing it Dorian makes a wish that the picture will age and he would not. As the years pass Dorian lives a life of decadence and debauchery, yet bears no physical signs of his sinful life. How can this be?
It’s always hard to know what to say about a classic. It’s difficult to say anything that hasn’t been said before. This is of course a morality tale in the guise of gothic horror, exploring the seedy underbelly of Victorian life. There is something of a fairytale quality to it, with the picture bears witness to Dorian’s sins. It reminds me of the Brothers Grimm or the modern adaptions by Angela Carter. It’s also a criticism of Victorian society who very much judged a book by its cover. If someone looked pretty, pure and innocent or angelic then they must be a good person. If someone looks ugly or coarse they must of course be evil or sinful. It’s a rather childish outlook but they honestly believed it. The result is no one suspects that beautiful angelic Dorian can be engaging in the worst vices of Victorian life, such as opium addiction. How wrong they were!
The language is beautiful and pure Wilde. Lord Henry ( Harry) in particular often comes with classic Wilde comments full of wit and cynicism. Harry I suspect is Wilde’s representative in the book. So much of him mirrors Wilde or at least Wilde’s public persona. He was my favourite character for all that he is the like the Pied Piper leading Dorian down the rosy path to hell.
I did a combination of reading and listening to an audiobook for this one. The audiobook was a free download from Librivox. For a free audiobook it was pretty good. It was a single narrator rather then a dramatic reading. If your looking for an audiobook and maybe don’t want to commit to the high price often charged for them, I’d definitely recommend this version and indeed Librivox in general.