Turn The Page: The Picture Of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

This really is a beautifully written book — one of those that you read and are struck by the vivid colours in which everything is depicted. Some classics seem overly bound and anchored by the mores of the period in which they are written but the genius of this book is that it involves you so much with the characters and their drama, makes you feel what they are feeling so completely, that anything which would be anachronistic in the present day barely registers. I think that those books which manage the feat of becoming timeless do so because they realise that it is the beating human heart at the centre of a story that makes it compelling and that at the end of the day all the scientific jargon, without that humanity, becomes just window dressing. Like the best of those cobweb grimed fairy tales this story is not afraid to be nasty; it is not afraid to make it’s main character loathsome. The thing is though that the emotions which he goes through are understandable — to tap into those base human fears one must also tap into the base human desires that take someone to that place. The journey that Dorian Gray ends up on is one we might all have started off taking — would we have all gone the same way as him? Maybe not, but the spirit of ‘there but for the grace of God go I’ really does inform tales like this. I steamed through this book. The only difficult part and the only part where my attention flagged slightly was when Wilde outlined the obsessions of Dorian Gray and used the cumulative effect to create a sense of the time passing. This was a minor niggle though and not enough to spoil my enjoyment of the work. What else can I say? Only that I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to get around to reading it.

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