The only novel of Oscar Wilde deserves your attention!
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I didn't care much for the illustrations which obviously showed the portrait of Dorian Gray as it transforms to Gray's old age while Gray himself remains young and handsome. The portraits shown in the book look amtuerish. They don't invoke the horror of Gray's insidious behaviour which includes murder. The portrait of Gray as a young and handsome man looks more like Little Lord Fauntelroy: a man dressed in a child's outfit. As the picture ages to depict Gray's behaviour over the years, the illustrations don't get any better.
So this is a book with a mediocre binding and poor illustrations, but it is a classic and its outward looks and its poor illustrations can't hide the fact that Wilde wrote a classic tale of an aesthete who made a pact with the devil. You are not introduced to the devil in the book, but never the less he is in there. His presence is made known by the character of Lord Henry Wooton, the first one to convince Gray that he should live as befits a young aesthete with a large fortune. Gray goes merrily on with life while ruining the lives of others which include suicides and eventually murder. As you read the book, you wish Wilde had taken care a little better of his own life so he could have written a few more novels as powerful as this one.
To enhance reading the novel ( this was my second time around), I checked out the unabridged sound recording of the book. I found at my library the BBC American sound recording which is about 8 CDs or eight hours long. The English accent of the narrator was perfect and made the book more enjoyable.
Last night I watched the 1945 movie of The Picture of Dorian Gray. They changed a few unimportant aspects of the screen play: Dorian was changed from Wilde's blue-eyed, blond-haired aesthete into a dark-haired one, but Hurd Hatfield who played Dorian was remarkable in his role. This made him into an instant movie star, but he suffered from a type casting from which he never recovered, although he had a long career on the stage and in television. Angella Lansbury, from Murder She Wrote, took the role of Gray's first gilrlfriend. She was transformed from a Shakespearean actress into a London Music Hall floozy, but the picture was not hurt by this.
Lord Henry Wooten was played by George Sanders who made a very succesful career out of portraying cads with a superlative bass English accent. He had a smaller role than Hurd or Lansbury but he had star billing. The picture won two academy awards: art direction and cinematography.
Those in Hollywood didn't know how to promote this picture. So they finally settled on the horror theme. I was ten years old in 1945, and I remember reading about the picture in the paper. Unfortunately, my mother read about it too, and I didin't get to see if for a number of years. It is a classic picture with many interesting aspects to it which include the set design, the artifacts, the cinematography, and the direction under the hand of Albert Lewin who was an aesthete himself. Hatfield became lifelong friends with Lansbury, and he made several Murder She Wrote teleplays with her. Hurd bought a home in Ireland and convinced Lansbury to buy a home near him. He spent the rest of his life decorating his home with many of the artifacts coming from the movie, purchased from MGM, and they were the real thing, not movie props.
Maybe Django can add to this with his excellent movie knowledge.
Read the book, listen to the audio, and watch the movie. You won't be sorry.