If you didn't know that Oscar Wilde was a playwright you could certainly guess it was so on the basis of his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. There are many declamatory passages, 'stage-y' scenes, melodramatic, 'back of the hand to the forehead' moments, and enough epigrams, aphorisms and sharp, barbed wit to keep an audience engaged throughout three acts.
If it were a play, the sets and costumes would be beautiful (see, for example, the description of the little library in Lord Henry's Mayfair house at the beginning of chapter IV, and Sibyl's clothes as Rosalind in ch. VI), and noticeably, given so many exquisite details of dress, objets and decor, there is rather a lack of food - again, is this the dramatist's mind dwelling on what is most effective on stage and eliminating that which can't be easily done? Just by the way but on the subject of things, I was amused at Dorian Gray's interest in what I suppose was an early form of aromatherapy and crystal therapy in chapter XI!
Those are the externals, while the internals - the aestheticism, the faustian pact, the corruption and immorality, make the familiar story, one set in a world in which everything is deceptively simple: "The secret of remaining young is never to have an emotion that is unbecoming." Everything leads back to that, it seems.
Throughout the book there is a disconnection between narrative and reader, in the sense that as with a play in a conventional theatre, the reader watches and listens from a certain distance in the stalls and the circle - there's that proscenium divide, and thus none of the immediacy and close involvement that an apron stage or viewing in the round would provide. This is Wilde's natural habitat, both professionally and personally, and every word, every detail is arranged just so, to attract and retain the reader's attention. This artifice is almost like looking at the most beautifully dressed shop window - the passer-by may have no interest in the merchandise on show, but the display itself is arresting.
I'm glad I've read the book, although at times doing so was a bit like sipping a particularly potent and somewhat bitter liqueur - enough was quite enough. What did you think of it?
(Edited to add: this book's cake is here).