Monday, May 25, 2015

"I think that it is better to be beautiful than to be good"

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
"Be afraid of nothing"
I just finished reading The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891) by Irish author and playwright Oscar Wilde. When I stumbled upon the book in London last year, I knew that I had to buy it -- my former colleague Alan raved about it plenty when we used to man Tony Mertens together. Some research taught me that the book exists in two versions, the one a 13-chapter magazine edition, the other a 20-chapter novel edition. The revised version added some new chapters and divided others, all the while obscuring some of the more homoerotic themes of the story.

The skinny

Dorian Gray is a handsome young man who regularly sits for Basil Hallward, a famous painter who is absolutely adores his innocence and indescribable beauty. Influenced by Lord Henry Wotton's world view, which states that beauty is the only thing in the world worth pursuing, Dorian wishes that Basil's painting of him would age instead of him, so that he would forever remain young and physically unaffected by his actions and lifestyle. Amazingly, his wish comes true, and for every sin or crime he commits, the portrait grows uglier and uglier,whild Dorian remains young and handsome.

The review

I found it astonishing that TPODG was published 124 years ago. Wilde's snappy and pleasant writing is absolutely perfect, bringing life to a cast of memorable characters (the three main ones being reflections of Wilde himself) and a dark and tragic story. The book serves as a wonderful study of the human monster, exploring how narcissism, the pursuit of everlasting youth, hedonistic selfishness and shallowness affect one's soul. The somewhat pompous dialogues come with it.

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