Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Wilde Book Review - The Picture of Dorian Gray

For a literary look at Victorian life, try reading The Picture of Dorian Gray.  This is the era of British history between 1837 and 1901, paralleling the reign of Queen Victoria. 


The author . . .Oscar Wilde




 
 
 


The Story. . .

The time was the turning of the nineteenth century into the twentieth, when new ideas about science and society were becoming popular. Knowledge was more accessible.  More people were reading.  Dorian Gray, a playboy by today's standards, was idolized by the young men in Victorian London as the epitome of sophistication and style.  (Photo Credit for photo of Oscar Wilde at end of post).


In the beginning of The Picture of Dorian Gray, when Lord Henry Wotton and Dorian Gray meet, the painting has just been completed. The artist, Basil Hallward, claims it as his best work. Dorian curses himself and the painting when he sees its beauty, his reactions evolving from self-love to self-pity. So begins his downward slide from society's parties into the world of illicit pleasures. Familiar Oscar Wilde quotes are found throughout the dialogue. I enjoyed this story of a man who found a high-cost way to stave off aging. It worked for a while.

 
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BONUS short story review:

 
Included at the end of the novel above, was a short story by Oscar Wilde, Lord Arthur Savile's Crime, about pre-ordained destinies and how knowledge of that information can affect the recipient's life.


One of the characters is a cheiromantist, similar to a psychic. What this man tells Lord Arthur changes his outlook on his happiness. This is London in the time of Sherlock Holmes.  The term, cheiromantist, may have gone out of use, but it generally means a 'seer who reads hands'. It's the first time I've come across the term.


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Have you read the book or seen the movie of The Picture of Dorian Gray?  Have you ever had your fortune told?  Do we really want to know?  What do you think?  Please share in the comments?

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References:

Book Credits: Oscar Wilde, 1854-1900, Irish poet, dramatist and author.

Signet Classics, March 2007, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891.

 

W=Wilde Thing, (Oscar), A to Z Blog Challenge 2012

http://dghudson-rainwriting.blogspot.ca/2012/04/w-wilde-thing-to-z-challenge.html

 

*IMAGE CREDIT: Oscar Wilde, by Napoleon Sarony, (Wikipedia, PD-Art)

This work is in the public domain in the United States, and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years or less. PD=public domain.

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37 comments:

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    1. I wanted to read a novel by Oscar Wilde. The book explained much that the movie left 'hanging'.

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  2. Dorian Gray is one of those stories I always wished I'd come up with first!!!

    Such a cool social statement mixed with a sort of horror element. I've seen two movie versions, and the latest one with Ben Barnes was kind of disturbing. I also enjoyed the Stephen Fry movie about Wilde's life. Knowing his biography, you can see how he came up with the Dorian Gray story.

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    1. It's pure Oscar, when you read Lord Henry Wotten's dialogue. I like the arty side of the story, about entrapment within a painting, or in this case, by a painting's image.

      Thanks for the extra info, LG!

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  3. I've heard of it (think he might have been a character in The League of Extraordinary Gentleman), but I haven't read it -- sounds like I should!

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    1. Take a minute in between those subs, Milo, for reading a classic.

      You know, I saw the 'League of Extraordinary Gentlemen' and I think you're right, he was included in that circle. (loved that movie regardless of the critics) A lot of my faves showed up there.

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  4. I enjoyed this book when I was young. It is sitting in my bookcase right now, probably over 50 years old, since it is a Swedish translation that I brought with me over here. Maybe I should take a look at it. It is such a good idea to dust off these classics and make people aware of them. Thanks.

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    1. Sounds like we enjoy similar reading material, Inger. The book answers questions that I had when watching the movies based on this book.

      Glad a few know about this one, but after all, it is Oscar Wilde's writing.

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  5. I've never read the book (shame on me) but I did see one movie version last year and it totally totally creeped me out. Which makes me kind of glad I didn't read the book. (I hate being scared. even by Victorian writers.)

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    1. I think the movies emphasize the horror edge. Dorian Gray is about one person's demon.

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  6. One of my favorites in terms of "The Classics" because it's so unique in its perspective. It has those touches of horror/Gothic themes. But there's much introspection, with the monster turning inward.

    In that vein it's similar to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which was written so well, that even now knowing the ending, it still packs a punch. (I always thought The Sixth Sense took its ending from this one.)

    Had to stop by from Susan Says because you quote Fawlty Towers. (Adore that show!) Don't mention the war. I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it!

    Great post! Cheers!

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    1. Glad you could drop by, Ava. You recognized a fellow Fawlty Towers fan! It's a useful saying.

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  7. Milo was right: Dorian was included in THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN. Wilde's Dorian was a witty monster with an angel's face. Beauty, whether male or female, can be a curse in that at the end the person no longer possesses the beauty, it possesses her/him.

    I love to read of Victorian society, especially if it involves mysteries and the supernatural. :-)

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    1. I'm not surprised Roland, since Alice is from Victorian times, isn't she? Sometimes a fatalistic atmosphere heralds the changing of a century, and as a result, writers generate dark stories. Thanks for visiting!

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  8. no i have never read this--i have been meaning to and every time i hear that james blunt song, where he mentions him--i think to myself i am going to read it----i used to pretend--when i was in high school that i could read palms :)

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    1. Borrow it from the library, Lynn, it's about the struggle between the soul's desires and how we perceive ourselves. The language is flowing, and lyrical when Lord Henry (Harry) talks.

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    2. okay---your description has me dying to get it----thanks :)

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    3. That's the spirit, Lynn. Let me know if you get and read it.

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  9. I remember the book or the movie; might have to revisit this in one form or the other. If only I'd know when I was young, that I wouldn't remember things like this, I'd kept a very detailed journal.

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    1. I've seen the movie, but prefer the book. Even if you had kept a journal from the earlier days, would you be able to find it?

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  10. I haven't read this book but it's on my ereader along with about thirty other books to read. I actually enjoy novels set in that time period.

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    1. Even books have to line up to be read. Wonder if Santa can bring us more time for ourselves?

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  11. I watched this old BBC show on Netflix, called Lillie. Oscar Wilde was a character in it and I'm struck by how much the actor resembled that photo. I've never read the book, but should. I always enjoy reading classics. Thanks for reminding me of this gap in my classical reading.

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    1. It may have been about Lillie Langtry. The BBC Masterpiece Theatre had a series on her a while back.

      H. M. Whistler, Oscar Wilde and a few others showed up in the series, as other celebs of her time. That male actor did resemble Wilde quite a lot.

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  12. Sounds like a fascinating book! I love history and that time period in particular.

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    1. I like a few authors who wrote in that time period, too. It's a good winter book.

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  13. I've read the book and seen at least one version of the movie (maybe more). It's been ages though. It's a great story that I should probably read again. I'm sure I have a copy in the house somewhere.

    I've never been to an actual fortune teller, but a friend of mine predicted some things when I was about 20 that turned out to be very accurate--and he would have no way of knowing and I would have never guessed that they would turn out to be true.

    Lee
    Wrote By Rote

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    1. If you imagine Lord Henry Wotten (Harry)as Oscar Wilde, it's fun to read the book, Lee. It's interesting how Wilde works the dialogue.

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    2. I don't want my fortune told, I'd be like the guy in the short story that I reviewed.

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  14. I've never read the book, but I've seen several movies of it. I love the story. I think it's so clever! Thanks very much for bringing this to our attention. :-)

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    1. The book explains a lot that the movie doesn't. Glad you could stop by.

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  15. I've read Dorian Gray. Wilde was an interesting writer, to be sure. I love that term chieromantist. I wonder if I'll retain it long enough to use it?

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

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    1. You might remember it if you hook it to Oscar Wilde (memory hook). It sounds much better than a 'reader of hands'. Thanks for visiting, Shannon.

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  16. OMG! Love this post....Oscar Wilde is one of my heroes and one of my favourite authors. Dorian Gray is one of the books in my regular rotation...I've read it approximately every 2 -3 years since I was 12..I find that I take different things from the story depending on the stage I'm at in my own life when I read it. (this is one of a few stories I've been re-reading for the majority of my life (I'm a huge geek!))...also, did you love the preface? I usually read the Preface to the Picture of Dorian Gray more often than I read the novel...it's such a fantastic and literary answer to his critics of the day...love Wilde! Thanks for this post, you made my day!
    PS..'I speak english very well...I learn it from a boookk..'

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    1. Glad a few of you like the book. It was surprising. I'm fond of Wilde too.

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  17. I read this in high school and will never forget it (and I've forgotten plenty). Love it!

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  18. I've read the book. It's one of my favorites!

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