The Picture of Dorian Gray is a classic story that after reading it, it is more of a good idea rather than a good book. Dorian Gray is the ultimate narcissist, so much so that he makes a Faustian pact for him to be young and beautiful forever after he receives a portrait from his artist friend Basil Hallward. While his looks remain unchanged, the portrait becomes old and corrupted as he does terrible things in his life, starting with driving his fiancée to commit suicide after breaking up with her because of a poor performance on stage.
As I mentioned, it’s a cool idea but not a particularly good book. For one thing, there isn’t a single likeable character in the whole book. Dorian is agonizingly weak and shallow. Basil is soft and wishy-washy. His friend, Henry, is utterly amoral. When a peasant character dies, he’s not concerned about the man’s life but only that the man who killed him in a hunting accident will be considered a bad shot. The characters are thoroughly misogynistic and prejudiced. The novel is filled with long, painful conversations that seem to go nowhere and get old real quick. By the time I got to the end of the novel, I was glad that it was done.
Carl Alves – author of Blood Street