Ever have the feeling that you have read a book before, when you know with absolute certainty you have not?
That is what I experienced when I started reading Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. I knew every bit of this story. Yet I KNOW that I have not read it before now, nor have I seen the movie. Somewhere, sometime, in my 27 years, someone has told me the fable of the beautiful young man whose soul was painted onto a canvas and hidden away in a dark room.
This work is brilliantly written–in fact, I copied the entire Preface into my journal before I even really started reading, as it is full of proverbs about art and knowledge. I also loved the way the dialogues were built. You could feel every breath that the speaker took, every moment he was moved or taken aback. Any awkward pause was purposeful, not because the writer did not how to make a transition. Sometimes dialogue can be clunky or choppy, not so here. The dialogue is often done in long monologues, but I like it that way, it is necessary here.
I will say that while this story is filled with “beauty” and “love,” this is not a happy story. Go forth with caution. This is definitely a fable with a heavy moral. See if you can find it at the end. Aesop could have done no better.