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My Favourite Book
A look at Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Naomi Toseland


This book is a witty insight into the Victorian upper classes. Dorian, a young gentleman, is made aware of his astonishing good looks and becomes vanity itself after being a painter’s subject. Wishing he could stay young and beautiful forever and the painting could age instead proves dangerous, as once Lord Henry puts his well-thought out and seldom acted upon ideas into his head Dorian descends a slippery slope of corruption. Luckily somehow his portrait takes all the punishment whilst he has all the fun. But soon his wicked acts catch up with him. This is one of Oscar Wilde’s more famous works due to the sharp wit, and depth of the characters.

Why I like it: 

This peers into the sordid underbelly of high society. Before I read this book, my view of the upper classes in the Victorian period was that they all drank tea, wrote letters and sat around chatting about the weather. They still do that in Oscar Wilde’s infamous book, but some of them also frequent opium dens, have different women (and in some cases men) every night and are generally the equivalent of rock stars today. They do nothing but party. The views of marriage and society are amusing and appear to have some truth. This book has pretty much everything, love (or so it appears at first), suicide, corruption and murder. The idea of a work of art taking on a person’s morality, leaving them free of conscience and consequence is brilliant. This is another book that gets you thinking about what is right and wrong, and whether punishment is enforced by our own conscience or by others. As well as that the story of a supernatural occurrence leaving a man ageless and unspoilt, while his portrait ages and spoils is original and creepy in equal measure.    

Naomi Toseland is a young writer based at Cardiff Metropolitan University.