By now I hope everyone knows about the fantastic Popular Penguins series – a great range of modern classics that have been re-released in the old orange jackets, and best of all, are only $9.95 each. I’m currently reading The Picture of Dorian Gray, by the inimitable Oscar Wilde, and I’m enjoying it so much! I read it years ago, but couldn’t remember much more than the bare bones of the plot.
Dorian Gray is a very handsome young man who has been sitting for a portrait by artist Basil Hallward. While at Basil’s studio, he meets Lord Henry Wotton, and becomes greatly influenced by Lord Henry’s belief that youth, beauty and pleasure are the only important things in life. Dorian feels it is unfair that he will grow old and ugly while his portrait will be eternally youthful and wishes it could be the other way around. As he and Lord Henry embark on their life of hedonism, Dorian becomes aware that his wish has come true – he remains young and pure-looking, while his picture bears the marks of time and his debauchery. As his portrait deteriorates, Dorian is literally faced with his own conscience.
It’s a cautionary fable about the dangers of undue influence and of prizing beauty and pleasure above morality and goodness. It’s about taking responsibility for our actions and the high price of a life of pleasure. And it’s a real page-turner to boot! But in my opinion, the real joy was rediscovering Wilde’s gorgeous prose – the book is peppered with his famous witticisms!
In July, Penguin will be releasing another 75 modern classics in the Popular Penguins series, so there will be even more to choose from. So there’s no better time than the present to rediscover an old favourite!! $9.95 each. Fiona