Friday, June 20, 2008

Victorian Literature

If you’ve read any of my posts, you know I like vampires and Victorian London and Poe and all things eerie, as long as they’re not depressing. I finished The Turn of the Screw recently, a great creepy ghost story and thought I’d write about that. But since our Summer Reading theme is transformation, I thought I’d pick something more fitting. [Enter Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray]

This is one of those novels that you disappear into. It’s not scary exactly, but it is quite unsettling. A gorgeous young man named Dorian Gray poses for a painting by artist Basil Hallward. The artist soon becomes fascinated and later obsessed with Dorian’s physical grace and beauty, eventually believing that his captivating subject is the reason behind Basil’s artistic reawakening. Then the really weird stuff starts happening.

Lord Henry Wotton, a close friend of Basil, has great influence over Dorian, soon turning Gray on to his own hedonistic world view. Knowing that one day his own beauty will diminish, Dorian becomes convinced that the only thing worth saving in life is beauty. I don’t want to ruin the story, but let me just say some very interesting transformations begin to happen on Basil’s canvas!!!

The Picture of Dorian Gray is Victorian, but it also has the added benefit of being as readable as anything written today. Wilde knew what he was doing. Please check it out from my Favorites shelf at the Watha T. Daniel Library. Trust me, it's awesome.

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