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
A beautiful young man, Dorian Gray, sits for a portrait. In the garden of the artist's house he falls into conversation with Lord Wotton, who convinces him that only beauty is worth pursuing. Gray wishes that his portrait, and not himself, might age and show the effects of time. His wish comes true, and wild, hedonistic pursuits horribly disfigure the portrait. This Faustian story caused much controversy when it was first published, as it discusses decadent art and culture, and homosexuality. It is now considered one of the great pieces of modern Western literature.