As I sat on the bus the other day, thick in the midst of this novel, I heard a couple of first-year university students nattering behind me claim that they needed to read The Picture of Dorian Gray for their compulsory English class. “Oh hey! That’s what I’m reading too!” I thought gleefully, “They are in for a treat”. But then I heard it. I heard the disgust in their voices. “Man, that totally sucks. Just watch The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, it’s basically the same thing.”
The face I made when I heard this… I only wish you could have seen it. Because no. No no no. Nothing about that abomination of a film relates back to this novel in any sense, especially thematically. And while the themes of the novel may seem simple in this day and age, they are still incredibly powerful and worth more than even all the not-terrible-but-not-great movies that have been made about Dorian Gray. Yeah, I saw the recent film adaptation with Colin Firth and Ben Barnes, so I sort of knew what the whole thing was about before I got into it. But trust me when I say that that does not take away from the experience of reading the book in the slightest. Sure, you may know some of the twists and turns, but it’s the language and ideas that really sell Oscar Wilde’s work (and the best medium through which that comes across is definitely in writing). But enough nattering! What’s it all about anyways? That is, if you aren’t familiar with the mythos of Dorian Gray already.