Somehow, passed over in lieu of second readings of Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, or any number of Jane Austen novels (which are awesome, for the record), many lovers of classics simply skip The Picture of Dorian Gray. I can say this because until recently I counted myself amongst this group of misguided, deprived individuals. Alas, no more am I the neophyte I was before I devoured Oscar Wilde's unmatched prose. Sadly I am now in perpetual distress about the fact that he wrote no other novels, and I will be forever deprived of reliving the incredible experience that was reading a Wilde novel for the first time. Ingeniously, The Picture of Dorian Gray dramatizes an exegesis of 19th century debates about art, hedonism, will, and autonomy with splendidly hilarious characters, wicked instances of madness, and a coup de grace that's as ironic as it is symbolic. Please, put down the lesser-known Conrad you're about to wade through, and take up what instantly became one of my favorite novels.— Joel
From the corner of the divan of Persian saddle-bags on which he was lying, smoking, as was his custom, innumerable cigarettes, Lord Henry Wotton could just catch the gleam of the honey-sweet and honey-coloured blossoms of a laburnum, whose tremulous branches seemed hardly able to bear the burden of a beauty so flamelike as theirs; and now and then the fantastic shadows of birds in flight flitted across the long tussore-silk curtains that were stretched in front of the huge window, producing a kind of momentary Japanese effect, and making him think of those pallid, jade-faced painters of Tokyo who, through the medium of an art that is necessarily immobile, seek to convey the sense of swiftness and motion. The sullen murmur of the bees shouldering their way through the long unmown grass, or circling with monotonous insistence round the dusty gilt horns of the straggling woodbine, seemed to make the stillness more oppressive. The dim roar of London was like the bourdon note of a distant organ.