Classics: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Written by: Lottie Carter, Staff Writer

Published in 1890, The Picture of Dorian Gray stands as a classic among Gothic literature and explores society’s superficiality. 

Oscar Wilde’s creation of nuanced characters within a hedonistic, Victorian society exhibits the contemporary obsession of beauty, namely through Dorian and his relationship with the handsome portrait. 

Through a series of crimes and tribulations, the beauty of Dorian’s portrait begins to fade and bears the burden of his narcissistic actions, meanwhile, his external physicality remains young.

Consequently, Dorian attempts to restore the portrait’s beauty by acting morally yet the portrait continues to grow uglier. Through the employment of an epigrammatic narrative, Wilde beautifully conveys the psychological depth of each character who simultaneously act as mirrors upon the contemporary society’s corrupted values.

Despite critics highlighting the unrealistic, supernatural nature of the portrait, I believe this simply conveys the ability of our minds to paint implausible versions of ourselves in an attempt to reflect our morality. Nonetheless, as Wilde states, “the books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.” 
Personally, The Picture of Dorian Gray remains my favourite among fictional classics purely due to Wilde’s honest and obscurely brilliant thoughts on life that continue to exude philosophical relevance today. 

LGBTQ+: Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead by Emily Austin

Written by: Francesca Sylph, Senior Editor

Gilda cannot stop thinking about death. In a desperate search for solace, she responds to a flyer for free therapy at a local Catholic church where she mistakenly stumbles her way into a job interview instead. As an anxious, atheist lesbian, Gilda is not the most obvious candidate to work in a church. However, she is abruptly hired to replace the recently deceased receptionist, Grace. In between memorising Catholic mass and hiding her Sapphic Hinge situationship, Gilda strikes up an email correspondence with an old friend of Grace’s. Unable to break the news of her predecessor’s passing, she assumes the identity of a dead woman. When the police come knocking, Gilda becomes increasingly tangled in a web of (albeit well-meaning) lies.Filled with morbid humour and a comforting warmth, Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead is perfect for fans of Fleabag (although, Father Jeff cannot be described as a ‘Hot Priest’). Gilda’s journey is not a story of queer suffering. Or, perhaps more accurately, it is not a story of only suffering. Gilda gets to feel everything, from grief to love, affection and, ultimately, acceptance.  For a book about death, it is surprisingly life-affirming and unfailingly kind. In the face of darkness and depression, people are all we’ve got. So we need to hold onto one another.

Literary Fiction: The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Written by: Erin Forward, Staff Writer

Donna Tartt’s The Secret History follows Richard as he navigates his way into a close-knit group of five classics students obsessed with Ancient Greek philosophy. They’re led by the selective and highly admired professor Julian, and under his influence, the group engage in morally questionable and obsessive behaviours. On the very first page, Tartt casually reveals that the group have murdered one of their own, Bunny, and the weight of their actions takes a toll, causing them all to unravel. The thrilling and fast-paced plot delves into how their obsession with beauty is the cause of their corruption. I was completely enamoured by Tartt’s perfectly crafted writing, effortlessly moving from elegant to disturbing. Like Richard when he first encountered the group, you will find yourself wholly captured by them. Despite being highly pretentious, their behaviours are both fascinating and charming in an almost humorous way. It is strange to see a group behave the way they do; deeply immersed in a world that no longer exists, and believing in morals of a discomforting nature. To me, the use of an unreliable narrator in a dark academia murder mystery is what makes this book so brilliant. I would not be surprised if The Secret History is labelled a classic in years to come. 

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