Tendo já visto o filme baseado neste livro parti para a leitura sem grande curiosidade pela história. O que não estava à espera, era desta escrita de Oscar Wilde. Algumas das descrições paisagísticas poderiam ser comparadas a uma pintura: uma paisagem exótica e exuberante de corres garridas. Descreve de forma elaborada e minuciosa, mas nem por isso aborrecida. A narrativa é viciante, sendo por vezes teatral e melodramática, outras poética, outras simplesmente hilariante recorrendo ao uso de adjetivos de forma algo exagerada, mas reforçando assim a intensidade da escrita. É sarcástico, mordaz e irónico. Apesar da qualidade da escrita, achei os capítulos muito longos e por vezes arrastou-se demasiado tempo no mesmo assunto.Embora Dorian Gray seja a personagem principal, quem me cativou foi o Lord Henry. Um hedonista convicto, cínico e dono de uma superioridade moral e social que raia a arrogância. Despreza tudo o que é feio e doloroso, não admite contrariedades, enaltece a beleza, a alegria e os prazeres. Na sua opinião não se aprende nada com os erros- pelo contrário- estes são a própria aceção do "joie de vivre". As suas tiradas afiadas, são deliciosas e é ele, que deslumbrado pela beleza e juventude de Gray, faz dele um objeto de adoração e estudo, moldando-o a seu belo prazer, como se de uma obra de arte se tratasse. Dorian Gray começou por ser um rapazinho ingénuo, completamente fascinado pelos modos requintados de Lord Henry, bebendo cada uma das suas palavras, sequioso dos seus ensinamentos, pratica tão afincadamente que acaba por superar o mestre. Afunda-se num mundo de superficialidade e egoísmo, numa busca insaciável de novas experiencias, prazeres desconhecidos e sórdidos pecados, de forma exagerada e narcisista. Um fatídico desejo fizera dele um monstro e lançara a sua vida no abismo. Quando se apercebe da horrível realidade já não consegue parar e decide ignorar, afinal, como o próprio diz: "se não falarmos de uma coisa é como se nunca tivesse acontecido". É o exemplo típico do: "be careful what you wish for". Foi uma vítima ou um vilão? Teve o final merecido, pura justiça poética.Basil Hallward, era o melhor dos três. Amava e idolatrava Dorian, fez dele o seu modelo de eleição e passou para o quadro toda a sua essência. Sem o saber foi cúmplice de uma prece macabra. Quando toma conhecimento da penosa realidade é o único que tenta desviar Dorian da vida dupla e pecaminosa. Pagou muito caro pelas boas intenções.É um livro que começa com algum humor, evolui para uma fantasia e termina em terror. Pelo meio, uma feroz critica ao puritanismo da época vitoriana. OW deixou neste livro temas de sobra para reflexão: a eterna luta entre o bem e o mal, os valores morais e a forma como por vezes são distorcidos , a valorização do fútil e superficial e o penoso caminho que vai do crime ao arrependimento e consequente punição.A publicação deste livro esteve envolta em polémica, afinal, não era costume um escritor expor nos seus livros personagens marcadamente homossexuais. Caiu como uma bomba e pesou contra si aquando do seu julgamento, tendo sido condenado e preso durante dois anos por atentado ao pudor.Henry Avila
"A face without a heart", so said Shakespeare in Hamlet. But it applies to the portrait of Dorian Gray, more readily.When the young gentleman Dorian Gray.From a wealthy aristocratic family.In Victorian England.Has his picture completed. Something is missing.Basil Hallward,the painter senses it.And insists that no one, sees his greatest work.But a few people...The witty Lord Henry Watton,Dorian's soon to be best friend. Seems amused.A shy artist!All three are fascinated by the painting.Discussing it at length,in Mr.Hallward's house. The lord is a notorious man.With a well- deserved evil reputation.Warned by many,to stay away from him.Gray's a lonely orphan.Needs excitement in his dreary life. Watton tells Dorian to have fun.While he is still young.It will not last long.Mr.Gray's good looks.Like a moth to a flame.The boy can't resist.Dorian wishes that the portrait, ages, while he remains young.As time goes by.Dorian would give his soul for that!Lord Henry laughs at the oath.But his request is fulfilled!And shortly afterwards. Dorian meets a beautiful seventeen year old actress.Both fall madly in love.Sibyl Vane, later gives a really bad performance. In front of Gray's two friends.The young gentleman is crushed and so disappointed.He leaves her.Sibyl than kills herself.James her brother .Has pledged to liquidate anyone who harms his sister.He will cause Mr.Gray much concern later on. The wicked lord tells the distraught youth, to forget about it."Eternal youth,infinite passion,pleasures subtle and secrets,wild joy and wilder sins".All this and only the picture to show its evil.Great bargain Dorian feels.Rumors abound about Dorian.But they the people, look at his face and see only purity.Gray continues his hedonistic life.Murder ,another suicide and a killing results...In a locked room,at his home. Where the curious Mr.Gray, keeps the picture.It Grotesquely Changes, whenever more wickedness. Is committed by the owner.The ugly side of Dorian,only he sees. Later into the shadows ,Dorian goes.To get opium. He wants salvation through drugs.To blackout his memories.But gloom is everywhere.A thick atmosphere of foreboding. Intense desperation,and helplessness, prevails.Reaching for something,that will save his poor soul.To make him feel worthwhile.That life has some meaning.But is all lost? A mournful torrent rushes Dorian forward,always forward, into the abyss.To the darkness,to the endless unknown regions.To oblivion?The light is going out.Dorian must face his destiny. He couldn't escape himself.Sad end. But he earned it....Alex
Cool book. I recently read Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, which makes a nice companion piece to this since they're sortof about the same thing. Dorian Gray was published in 1890, Jekyll & Hyde in 1886; Wilde's apparently on record as admiring Jekyll & Hyde.I think Wilde's lack of experience writing novels shows sometimes. James Vane is introduced so clumsily that it's instantly clear that Sibyl will (view spoiler)[come to an unfortunate end and James will take revenge. There's no other reason for his character to exist, right? "If he ever does you any wrong, I shall kill him." (hide spoiler)] Not brilliantly subtle.Jekyll & Hyde, by contrast, is a tidy little package by a master storyteller. But it doesn't reach for the same heights that Dorian Gray does. Wilde's not always successful, but I think he's set his sights higher.I'm a little afraid that Wilde thinks Lord Henry is as charming as everyone in the book seems to. From quotes I've read, and from Wilde's preface to this book ("All art is quite useless"), Henry's paradoxical style seems to be an exaggerated version of Wilde's own. The problem is that Henry's a total bore. He's just constructing elaborate nonsense based on a formula. You could probably write a software program to deliver Henry-isms. "I'm tired!" "I tire only of sleeping." "That girl's hot!" "There's nothing so ugly as a pretty girl." Oh, shut up.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>Nurkastelia A.
What more can be said about The Picture of Dorian Gray than the fact it is a marvelous book? Although this is the only novel Oscar Wilde had ever written, I think by far this is one of the finest and most enchanting classic novels there are. I was completely in awe after reading it the first time and still too in awe to even start a review now.The Picture of Dorian Gray begins with an unusual look of a man –from another man’s eyes (Basil Hallward). I’ve never thought homosexual issues could be let out so openly into the world like how Oscar Wilde let it out. The fighting over Dorian between Basil and Lord Henry, Basil’s marks about Gray, and even the words of the story which are edited and put into the endnotes. All were shockingly wonderful. Also related to the endnotes, we can see that Wilde was a man of much knowledge. He retracted and inserted other people’s intellectual works in the book. What’s more is that I think the ingenious mind of Oscar Wilde is really reflected on the character of Lord Henry though he pictured Lord Henry as someone as empty as a barrel. If a song once said, “if a picture paints a thousand words then why can’t I paint you? The words could never show the you I’ve come to know,” this really does not count the book along. Why? Because as we can read, Dorian Gray’s picture, literally, gives out millions and millions of words about him. The first day Basil paints it, the first day Gray brings it home, the first day people take their glances at it; it speaks to them as if it has a mouth telling them how great of a creature Dorian Gray is. At that time, there is no single person that would not call him ‘Prince charming’ since his self-portrait was so beautifully enchanting.As time goes by, the first-innocent mind of Gray is inflected by Lord Henry’s views towards life –towards beauty. He said that beauty is the only thing that matters, and Gray eventually agrees with it and realizes that the portrait will live forever, and retain its beauty while he himself is left to age. This is the turning point of the story, the part when we realize that wishes are stronger than life. So Dorian Gray wishes to trade his soul for everlasting youth, and to always retain his beauty, just like the portrait. Of course, when there’s an action, there will always be a reaction. Every time Dorian Gray commits a sin, the picture miraculously adjusts itself with the evil side of Dorian Gray.As much as other things in the story are intriguing, the most fascinating part is how Wilde used ‘beauty’ as something harmful. Something so corrupting that a person would kill another, another, and yet another human being, before finally Dorian Gray tries to kill his picture, his guilt –his conscience, resulting in killing himself. Astonishingly enough, when Dorian dies, the painting, as if released from all the sins it bears, returns back to the old self just like when it was first shown to Dorian; painfully beautiful.One thing that captures my mind is that Oscar Wilde had thoughts ahead of his time, and not afraid to show it either. In real life, he was charged with gross indecency as early as 1895. His works make fun of the hypocrisy of the society, damn the moralities. In short, he was leading quite a controversial life.Nevertheless, however controversial he is, he obviously concerned deeply about life itself. That is why this particular novel offers some kind of a wake-up call to the readers…narcissist readers, that is. So if you are one, and want to be saved not by lectures…take a walk on the Wilde side, let this fantasy story take your breath away, and may morality save you from constant debauchery.Mike (the Paladin)
I have been meaning to read this book for...maybe 40 or 50 years, closer to 40 I suppose. It's one of those classics that you always mean to get to. I just never had.Like many people (I suppose) my knowledge of Oscar Wilde is fairly sketchy and mostly surface. It's the kind of thing you get from quotes and literary sketches. This book made me a little more curious about the famous rebel.Most people, even those who haven't read the novel will be aware of the background story here. Dorian Gray in the "glory" of youth and being an exceptionally attractive young man anyway looks on his own visage in a portrait painted by his "friend" Basil Hallward. Having been influenced (it is supposed) by his new acquaintance Lord Henry Wotton, Dorian dreads the loss of such youth and beauty and "wishes" the portrait could suffer the ravages of time and life while sparing him such...he says he'd go so far as to give his soul for this. This book is a product of it's time, maybe a little more florid in some ways than we'd find now. Wilde takes his time introducing us to the characters and laying the ground work before he introduces the fantastic and horrific elements of the story which creep up on us a bit at a time. Sir Henry is usually taken as the background villain of the piece, Mephistopheles to Dorian's Faust... but to an extent I think that's a bit misleading and I don't think Wilde saw it that way.This is an excellent work and I think most will find it enjoyable. It is not only a well written and deeply characterized book...it carries an understated and pervasive type of horror that might just require the reader to think.5 stars.(view spoiler)[The description of Dorian as "innocent" and "good" when he's young and when his portrait is painted is to an extent, only the description Dorian accepts about himself. Even when we first meet Dorian he is quite willing to manipulate Basil. Henry who is thought of as the Villain of the piece, is basically a fool. He knows not nearly so much as he thinks he does in spite of his self assurance. I think that Wilde showed us the flaws in Henry's ideas...just as he showed us the shallowness of Dorian. Dorian is constantly making vows to reform, decisions "to be better". Wilde "probably" didn't think much of this sort of thing as he pokes fun at it throughout his life. Dorian is a bit more serious in his failures as he graduates from manipulation, to destruction of life, to murder and so on. It's interesting to follow Dorian as he bemoans how these tragedies "effect him".So..my take... Lord Henry is a fool, Dorian is shallow and evil.By the way, I love the sort of "abrupt" ending with no cometary at all...just the final scene. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>Emily May
"The sitter is merely the accident, the occasion. It is not he who is revealed by the painter; it is rather the painter who, on the coloured canvas, reveals himself. The reason I will not exhibit this picture is that I am afraid that I have shown in it the secret of my own soul." And so begins this tale of art and sin. I would highly recommend first watching the movie Wilde starring the wonderful Stephen Fry, it is a film which takes the audience on a journey through the life of the tormented writer, from the beginnings of his fame to his later incarceration for "gross indecency" - a charge used to imprison individuals when it was impossible to prove sodomy. Wilde was sentenced to two years hard labour and died not long after being freed due to health problems gained during those two years. Looking at Wilde's story from a twenty-first century perspective, it is sad and horrifying to realise this man was indirectly sentenced to death for being gay. The "hard labour" prescribed was carried out in various ways but one of the most common was the treadmill:This machine made prisoners walk continuously uphill for hours on end and had many long-term effects on people's health.Why do I think it's important to know this? Because, as Wilde claims, in every piece of art there is more of the artist than anything else. And I believe this is especially true of The Picture of Dorian Gray more than perhaps any other fictional work I've read. In this novel, Wilde explores the nature of sin, of morality and immorality. The homoerotic undertones between Dorian Gray, Basil Hallward and Lord Henry Wotton are, I think, the author's little expression of his own secret "sins" within his work. Rarely does a work of fiction so deeply seem to mirror elements of the author's life.By 1891, when The Picture of Dorian Gray was published, Oscar Wilde had met and fallen in love with Lord Alfred Douglas and they had begun a semi-secret affair, by which I mean that many were suspicious of the relationship but didn't argue with Wilde's claims that they shared a Socrates/Plato love that is between a close teacher and student. The idolisation of Dorian Gray's youth and beauty, his tendency to be mean at random, these characteristics all fit with the description and personality of Lord Alfred Douglas. For me, there is no real question as to whether part of Dorian is meant to be Mr Wilde's lover.I think if you familiarise yourself with Oscar Wilde, this becomes a very personal novel, much more than just a disturbing horror story where a man sells his soul. But even without any additional information, I think this is a sad and haunting book that tells of the joyful naivete of youth and the sad wisdom of maturity.Erik
Plot summary: Dorian Gray is a beautiful, wholesome young man. He begins with two friends, one of whom paints the titular picture, while the other is a modern, cosmopolitan lord, who puts the fear of losing his youth into Dorian. When it turns out that the painting grants Dorian an eternal youth (which one should differentiate from eternal life - Dorian's physical appearance is never burdened by the deeds which he commits nor the simple passage of time), then Dorian struggles against losing all sense of morality. Stuff happens. The end.It's difficult to know what to write about The Picture of Dorian Gray. This book is Oscar Wilde's only novel, with good reason. The Picture of Dorian Gray is like a play written in novel form - no one (I hope) would seriously contest that Oscar Wilde was an important and influential playwright with a penchant for witty, sharp dialogue. That is, his plays are a rare example of century old writing that's still enjoyable to read today. This skill of his is in full force in Dorian Gray - dialogue is by far the primary mover of characterization, plot, and conflict. And it is quite amusing. On the other hand, his descriptions, when he bothers to describe at all, tend to be overly flowery (the first sentence of the book is like ten lines long) or pretentious.I say pretentious because, by far, the most annoying part of this book is the 10+ pages of needlessly detailed description of all the various arts, skills, and knowledge in which Dorian dabbles once he realizes his immortality / immorality. Some may argue that this huge list was needed in order to accurately develop and depict Dorian's corruption. Hogwash. I've seen a fall from grace portrayed in a single line - Oscar Wilde's prose here is entirely indulgent and comes across as someone saying, "see here, see here, look at how clever and learned I am!"My second complaint is that much of Dorian's corruption happens off the pages. I recall a recent review for the HP7, pt. 1, movie which stated, "Much of the action happens disturbingly off screen." This trait was cited as a positive, and I wanted to be like, Why? Why is it a good thing that the most compelling elements of a story are summarized or hinted at, rather than shown? Likewise, there are a great number of allusions to the many evil deeds of Dorian. But they are rarely shown. The result is that when at last Dorian was actually shown committing an evil deed, I was not convinced. This was not a visceral experience.Perhaps these complaints can be ignored because The Picture of Dorian Gray is invariably an intellectual's book. It's not a story in the sense that I define stories - it's a philosophical journey. It's a hypothetical... what if: Is the dark side inevitable? Is a human innocent at birth and corrupt at death? It is the planting of a seed of doubt in your own mind; as you read through it, you can't help but wonder... how would I behave, if I could get away with everything? It is in this role, I would suggest, that The Picture of Dorian Gray is historically considered a must-read.I do not concur. Is this a book you should read? Undoubtedly. Is it one you must read? Sorry, no.Edit: I retroactively added a star because, despite my initial doubts about the book, I've been using the ideas contained within quite often. I think it explores the connection of physical beauty & goodness in a way that has become obfuscated by modern society's hypocritical and inane mantra: 'beauty is on the inside.'Apatt
“He was always late on principle, his principle being that punctuality is the thief of time.”"We praise the banker that we may overdraw our account, and find good qualities in the highwayman in the hope that he may spare our pockets. I mean everything that I have said. I have the greatest contempt for optimism. As for a spoiled life, no life is spoiled but one whose growth is arrested. If you want to mar a nature, you have merely to reform it." Words to live by. LOL! This is surely the most quotable book I have ever read. I only chose the above quotes for a good giggle, there are many more pithy or profound ones in this novel. Besides being the most quotable book it is also one of the most misrepresented by pop culture. The movie adaptations tend to focus on the horror aspect of the book as if Wilde was a precursor to Lovecraft or something. The Picture of Dorian Gray is a more cerebral and allegorical than Hollywood would have you believe.As with most classics I picked an audiobook version and where possible I opt for the free Librivox version over the commercial Audible one. I only require that the books are reasonably well read; this happens to be one of the good ones which I can recommend with a couple of minor reservations (more on that later). What I did not realize though is that Oscar Wilde wrote two editions of this book. The original was first published in 1890, and the considerably longer (and less overtly “gay”) 1891 edition followed in response to less than enthusiastic critics’ reviews. Any way, this Librivox version is of the original edition consisting of a mere 13 chapters instead of 20.From the first few pages I was bowled over by the barrage of witticisms from Lord Henry Wotton who seems to have outrageous views on just about everything, and he can talk the hind legs off a donkey. Every “willful paradox” that comes out of his mouth is a gem. The first chapter alone is worth the price of the book (it’s free in Guttenberg e-book format any way). Oscar Wilde is famous for his wit and this book provides ample evidence, he did not so much write as orchestrated the language to create a work of art. The initial hilarity at the beginning of the book soon gives way to a much darker story and eventually culminates in a horrifying climax.The central characters, like everything else in this book, are very well written. The artist Basil Hallward is decent, honest and kind (not to mention probably gay), the eponymous Dorian starts off as a naïve young gentleman and fairly quickly morphs into an infamous cad. As for the amazing Lord Henry, unfortunately for Dorian he is the sort of man who likes to talk people into committing all kinds of debauchery but never does it himself, as poor Basil points out early in the book.I first read this book many years ago I remember liking the first few chapters very well but somehow when I first signed up to Goodreads I rated it at 3 stars as I was adding books to my bookshelf for the first time. For life of me I could not remember what the problem was. Well, I do now that I have just reread it. In spite of being extremely witty and hilarious at times this is not an entirely easy read; not because of the descent in tone into grimness, I don’t mind that at all. As it turned out the issue is only one chapter. If not for this very odd chapter the novel is actually quite easy to read.I am talking about the lengthy Chapter 9 (1890 edition) which is Chapter 11 in the second edition (1891). This chapter takes place after Dorian has decided to adopt a hedonistic life style and reinvents himself as a very bad boy (but oh so elegant and well coiffed) under the wicked influence of Lord Henry. Almost the entire chapter is tangential to the story and consists of Wilde’s rumination on jewelry, embroidery, art and beauty etc. I dozed off a bit during this chapter (50 minutes narration, I am not sure what the page count is, 30 at least). I think Wilde should have placed it as an appendix, in fact after finishing the book I went back to read this particular chapter just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. There is a little plot in there somewhere but you have to stay awake the entire time not to miss it.This audiobook version I just reviewed is read very nicely by John Gonzalez. My only reservations are that the book is set in England and all the characters are English while Mr. Gonzalez is an American, still, better a book well read in American accent than badly read by an Englishman. My other reservation is that there is a little bit of hiss in the background.In any case this is a fantastic book and I will have to read the second edition before too long.________________________Notes: Free audiobook editions:Link to the 1890 edition read by John Gonzalez.Link to the 1891 edition read by Bob Neufeld.For a hilariously unconventional review I recommend taking a gander at this Thug Notes review on Youtube."My man Wilde had to rewrite the book coz them publishers weren't chillin' on the bro on bro action!".(Paraphrased from memory)Brendan
Moral degradation follows moisturiser use.Madeline
"The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim. The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.The highest, as the lowest, form of criticism is a mode of autobiography.Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty. There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book.Books are well written, or badly written. That is all. The nineteenth century dislike of Realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.The nineteenth century dislike of Romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass.The moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium. No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved. No artist has ethical sypathies. An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style.No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything.Thought and language are the to the artist instruments of an art. Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art. From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of the musician. From the point of view of feeling, the actor's craft is the type.All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril. Those who read the symbol do so at their peril. It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors. Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital. When critics disagree the artist is in accord with himself.We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.All art is quite useless."That's how the book starts. (did you read the whole thing? Go on, do it. Thank you) Honestly, I really have nothing else to say on this review except that I adore Oscar Wilde and will add quite shamelessly that he has joined Neil Patrick Harris and Anderson Cooper on my List of Men Madeline Would Like to Go Shoe Shopping With.Jason
I am not sure whether this novel is so perfect I should wish Wilde had written more, or whether this novel is so perfect I should be grateful it stands alone.Wilde was an aesthete? This is a work of aestheticism? Hardly. The Picture of Dorian Gray is a gripping and sincere morality tale, told with beauty, and about beauty, but ultimately driven by the quasi-Gothic nightmare that rests beneath all that is beautiful in the book and all that is said about the pursuit of beauty by its primary characters.Wilde's writing is beautiful. Anything of beauty within the mise en scène is captured by Wilde and depicted with beauty. Dorian Gray is beauty in human form. His friend Basil Hallward, a painter, sees Dorian's beauty and is driven to portray it on canvas. Per Dorian's wish, he will remain beautiful, and Basil's portrait will bear the ravages of his soul. Basil's homoerotic fascination with Dorian, and its expression in his portrait of Dorian, will unwittingly lead to tragedy. Through Basil, Dorian befriends Lord Henry Wotton, who impresses upon Dorian the ideal of beauty. And, beyond that, the joy of beauty. Of seeking out that which pleases the senses. Of hedonism. A means of existence Dorian takes at its purest. Hedonism regardless the price. Personal pleasure above all else. Eventually the cost of such a life, and the sins Dorian commits in the name of it, come grossly to light, in what is in many ways the simplest of tales of right and wrong.Why is the novel so good if it's, arguably, so simple? Several reasons. Dorian's wish is not a foreign concept to men of any age. Lord Wotton's philosophy is captivating and, in many ways, persuasive. Beauty pleases man. All man has by way of understanding the world is his senses. All that triggers them and satisfies them (or more) is the best man can take from the world. Wilde knows. When (and when not) feeding the reader a compelling philosophy of beauty, he feeds the reader via the beauty of his prose. Quite literally, Wilde's writing pleases the senses. Multiple senses, in fact. The eye in its words. But more than the eye, as Wilde's eye, and his treatment of the world within the novel, reaches beyond it.That the beauty of the writing is on par with the views on aesthetics put forth in the novel as a counterbalance to its moral substance makes this a novel only Wilde could have written. There may be better prose in Anglo-American fiction (or not). No such prose, however, is as striking and of such calculated elegance and allure as Wilde's. The novel's abounding beauty provides the force that animates its theme of false beauty. That abounding beauty is Wilde's particular gift, and the heart of one of the best novels in the Anglo-American canon.Paul
I don't know what I was quite expecting here. It's a psychological horror story with a lot of comic relief, in the form of the endless witty paradoxes. After page 30 you are thinking that if Lord Henry makes just one more crack you're going to knock his monocle off his family crest and grind it underfoot. Oscar often clearly thinks he's being hilarious with his wit with a capital W – and maybe it's me, but Oscar Wilde often sounds like a parody of Oscar Wilde, like in the Monty Python sketchWHISTLER: Your Majesty is like a stream of bat's piss.(gasps) THE PRINCE OF WALES: What?WHISTLER: It was one of Wilde's.OSCAR WILDE: I, um, I, ah, I merely meant, Your Majesty, that, ah, you shine out like a shaft of gold when all around is dark.THE PRINCE OF WALES:Oh, ho-ho, very good.But of course, some of it is very good stuff :The one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties. I never know where my wife is, and my wife never knows what I am doing. When we meet we tell each other the most absurd stories with the most serious faces. The fact was, one of her married daughters had come up quite suddenly to stay with her, and to make matters worse, had actually brought her husband.One of those middle-aged mediocrities so common in London clubs who have no enemies but are thoroughly disliked by their friends.But his character Lord Henry goes on and on with the wit and the aphorismsShe is a peacock in everything but beauty…she tried to found a salon and only succeeded in opening a restaurant…. One can't stand other people having the same faults as ourselves. And you get a lot of guff about womenNo woman is a genius. Women are a decorative sex. They never have anything to say, but they say it charmingly. A man can be happy with any woman, as long as he does not love her. As for conversation, there are only five women in London worth talking to, and two of these can't be admitted into decent society. (that last one reminds me of the weird quote from Captain Beefheart – "There are only forty people in the world and five of them are hamburgers". Oh, how rude of me – Oscar, allow me to introduce Captain Beefheart. Captain Beefheart, may I present Mr Oscar Wilde – I believe you may have heard the name.)Then there's the necessarily undeclared but pretty open gayness. How the two older men worship this young Adonis Dorian – they openly salivate! - and how he reciprocates too. He says to Lord Henry 30 minutes after meeting him :I feel I must come with you. Do let me. And you will promise to talk to me all the time? No one talks so wonderfully as you do.What a flirt. I don't think boys talk to each other like this anymore. They're a little more discreet these days.So as the story saunters along, and at a couple of points you think there never will be a story, the banter and the brittle conversations die away and Dorian, his portrait miraculously ageing instead of him, realises he can "sin" without consequence. He turns into a vicious voluptuary, a promiscuous profligate, an effulgent epicurean and a licentious libertine. In time the word gets round, and society reacts with the strongest possible disapproval :He was very nearly blackballed at a West End club… and it was said that on one occasion when he was brought by a friend into the smoking-room of the Churchill, the Duke of Berwick and another gentleman got up in a marked manner and went out.That would cut a fellow to the very quick, though, wouldn't it. What would be the modern equivalent? There isn't one. Both Dorian and the novel turn strange. You might think that the life of a young handsome sensualist would consist of orgies and opium, roofies and deflorations, and maybe a black mass thrown in for kicks, with goats and orphans, but you would be wrong. Dorian plunges into a life of strange obsessions – for ten pages we get elaborate lists of a) perfumes, b) jewels, c) tapestries, and d) world music – yes, that came as a surprise to me too :He used to give curious concerts in which mad gypsies tore wild music from little zithers or grave yellow-shawled Tunisians plucked at the strained strings of monstrous lutesSo WOMAD then.Dorian collects instruments like the furuparis, human bone flutes, sonorous green jaspers, the clarin, the teponazali, some yotl-bells and a Stratocaster made from the skulls of Tibetan lamas. No, I made up the last one. But this is a real quote : "he had a special passion, also, for ecclesiastical vestments". I was kind of disappointed. Is this really debauchery? I don't think Ozzy Osbourne would recognise it as such.With the change of gear in the book, we find that Oscar can come out with some quite extraordinary sentences. Here is a favourite :There are few of us who have not sometimes wakened before dawn, either after one of those dreamless nights that make us almost enamoured of death, or one of those nights of horror and misshapen joy, when through the chambers of the brain sweep phantoms more terrible than reality itself, and instinct with that vivid life that lurks in all grotesques, and that lends to Gothic art its enduring vitality, this art being, one might fancy, especially the art of those whose minds have been troubled with the malady of reverie.Oscar's solitary novel is a gothic tale of a man who came to think that he could commit sin without consequence. And he couldn't. It's either curiously conservative – God will smite you down, there's no escape, and nor should there be – or it's a coded message of revolution : the idle rich have got it coming to them. I think Oscar became a convert to some form of socialism round about the time he wrote his novel, so I'm going with the latter interpretation. It suits me. I think there are fifty shades of Dorian Gray even now cashing in their half million dollar bonuses and thinking that they'll be young and invulnerable forever. But vengeance will come like a thief in the night.Shayantani Das
Oh my God! What was that? Lord Henry Wotton, are you by any chance trying to brainwash me? Oscar Wilde, what have you done? I started reading this book one week back, resolving on a twenty to thirty pages a day daily quota. Somewhere along the middle of the week I started ignoring Dorian Gray for my favorite jerk Sherlock Holmes. Then last night, I again plucked up the courage and to my complete surprise found myself unable to stop reading. Not something you expect from a Victorian novel. The story is absolutely brilliant. My goodness, how can anyone not like Oscar Wilde? Another entry in my all time favorite list!Mon
19th century people do funny things. For example, the males characters are constantly picking out flowers for their 'buttonholes'. And not just any flower, but colour and specie specific orchid. Heavy floor length curtain was popular (think about it, they didn't have that many windows back then, so the interior would be pretty gloomy most of the time). Hot chocolate is consumed before coffee as breakfast (and not just for children). They also faint easily (maybe it's the chocolate feast). I'm also glad facebook status has now replaced speedy servants with preposterous amount of letter writing. And the government who wanted to hang this guy for writing a bad story? Really? How would you feel if they hang Dan Brown? I don't understand why people take this book so seriously. It's really fun, full of witty dialogues, philosophical insights and jack-ass comebacks. Yeah that's basically it, just really funny like a 30 Rock episode. It's probably lowbrow to compare one of the greatest literary work to TV, but meh, we should all chill like Dorian.Clare
Oscar Wilde's only novel! I thoroughly enjoyed Wilde's ability to play with words, to toss them about and see where they land. There is a particular joy in finding a word used slightly out of sync to it's meaning, a stretching if you will. Wilde's thick, image driven, morally questionable (to most, not me) string of words delight the eye and impassion the mind. His dialogues demonstrate his future word play in plays. His ability to create synthesis between character types is magnificient, he allows his characters to feed off one another in subtle and not so subtle ways. It is really poignant when you think of the turmoil of Wilde's own life and the idea of image driving the modern world. Dorian is captivated by the idea of the picture living on unbesmirched and clean while he must suffer the marking of time and experience. Wilde shows that unlinking these things, unhooking the soul from the body can be a terrible thing to behold. While Dorian's outer image stays idyllically static, his inner image as displayed by the canvas twists and turns foul with each act of questionable intent. Wilde himself became victim when his inner demons were publicly displayed, as would us all. While not considered highly questionable now, then it was devistating. Wilde seemed to fortell that the display of this innerself, one that you are ashamed (or taught to be ashamed of really) even to the closest few can shatter life, alter all that you know. While we are all destined to do things that inflict pain on others, even if unintentionally, it alters our spirit. Nothing in life is static even if it seems so. Life is mutable and ever changing and to wish it to be otherwise is to doom oneself to eventual distatisfaction.