12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Oxford World's Classics: The Picture of Dorian Gray (Paperback)
Firstly, why do people reiterate the plots in reviews? We already have a synopsis from Amazon we don't need another twelve dozen.
This book is wonderful and is so embedded in modern culture it has become elevated to the highest accolades in art by becoming a modern fable (for those who argue that it is the highest: argue with Tolstoy - not me). This is probably why people find it predictable, unsurprising or not as delightful as they thought. There are very few people ignorant of this story - even if they never read it of heard the name of Dorian Grey - as the fabric of the tale is woven into modern western thinking as tightly as that of Plato's or Aristotle's.
What is wonderful about this book is how Wilde has taken a very simple plot which would sit wonderfully in a children's novel and then developed it and deepened it with such complex issues, moral puzzles and twists on society, politics, ethics, religion, art, culture and virtually every other non-cognitive pursuit known to the pre-industrialized world that there is enough material for the greatest of philosophical thinkers to pursue. The novel truly transcends a multitude of intellectual and cultural levels while all the time being beautifully simple and to the point.
Wilde's control of the reader's moral thinking to the point were characters who are loved are despised pages later is nothing short of incredible. By the climax of the novel we are terrified in a way that no horror film can do - because when Wilde builds up to expose to final extent of Grey's soul does he threaten to expose some of our own?
How many novels can do all this: and in such a short book? Maybe Dickens has come close but Wilde achieves it with almost perfection (my only criticism is Wilde's self indulgence in the 'transformation' chapter).