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Toothbrush1984

The Picture of Dorian Gray

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Dorian Gray's only novel captivated me with his excellent command of the English language, and the depth of discussions which abound between the two main characters, Dorian and Lord Henry.

Discussing this novel would be fruitless if I don't take into account the richness of the character development of Dorian. The novel begins with Basil, a well-regarded painter who is painting Dorian, talking to his friend, Lord Henry, about his infatuation with painting Dorian. Basil is quite reluctant at first to tell Henry Dorian's name as he is afraid that Henry will tarnish the purity of Dorian. I think that Basil's main reason for not wanting Henry to know Dorian is a selfish one, as he is, with good cause, afraid that Dorian will become enamoured of Henry, who has a very powerful, controlling influence over people.

Perhaps one of the most important points to note in this novel is quite near to the beginning (the first chapter, maybe?) when Dorian is introduced to Henry, and is immediately taken by his knowledge; Dorian is also quite pleased by the attention and praise of his beauty. While Basil finishes the painting of Dorian, Dorian begins to think more deeply of everything that Henry has been telling him, but especially of his flattering comments regarding his good looks. Telling Dorian that he must make the most of his looks while he can, as he will surely wither with age as every other human does, Dorian's true exterior beauty is revealed to him through Basil's portrait of him, and for the first time in his life he realises how handsome he really is.

At the same moment though, as Henry lauds Basil for his incredibly life-like work, Dorian despairs that he will soon lose his most important asset, and become as mundane as everyone else. Dorian's change of perception can be traced directly to Henry, who plants within him a great pride of his beauty, and a willingness to use it to gain anything he desires. Henry's advice that beauty is the most wonderful gift to have (higher than intelligence, though it is better to have intelligence than neither of these two, according to Henry) instills within him a desire to remain as he is forever, and Dorian makes the ill-fated wish, which makes his portrait portray Dorian's true exterior features as he progresses with age, while his own exterior doesn't age.

After this, Dorian fills his life with pleasures of all descriptions, but also develops his intellect through his great collection of books and his travels throughout Europe. I wont discuss this book any further, as I might ruin it for you, but I just must say this about Oscar Wilde: If indeed, as he has been quoted as saying, he said that he was like the character Basil, I believe he was lying. He surely was more like Henry, who expounded upon numerous philosophies, and countless ideologies, and was by far the more intelligent of the two characters. I also believe he was more like Henry because of their similar marriages.

As I noted at the beginning of this little exposition of the Picture of Dorian Gray, the English language is used with such excellence, and respect, while instilling each description with great vividness and vibrancy. It is certainly an important novel to read, especially if you are familiar with Wilde's other great works, such as the Importance of Being Ernest.

I'd like to hear what other people thought about the novel and whether you think some of my thoughts on the novel have any substance.

Happy typing, Toothbrush

:)

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Following such a good review and thoughts, Toothbrush, I really wish I had read the book! Unfortunately, all I know of Dorian is from his cameo appearances in Jasper Fforde's Nursery Crimes books!

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Thanks Flingo, though it's not quite a review; I guess it's a little more like a self-indulgent reflection on Dorian's transformation from angel to demon (no, nothing to do with Dan Brown :D ) If you do get a chance to pick it up though, make sure you savour the first scene, as I believe that Wilde's descriptions alone are worth the price of this book (and that's just the first scene!)

 

Now I feel like reading it again!

 

PS I don't know about the Nursery Crimes (a novel, I presume?) but I just discovered that Dorian Gray was made into a film in 1945, and is actually a great example of black and white cinematography (you'll have to excuse me fellow BGO members when I go off on a technical tangent into film - I'm also a budding (perhaps?!) film maker.

 

PPS Moderators: My apologies for already making an obvious mistake on these forums! My use of a 'winking' smiley icon for my post was not some sneaky, subliminal (?) marketing plan to get more people to read my post, but a mix up with which smilies to use! (perhaps this will teach me to give up my 'smiley addiction' which is causing havoc in my life... :o )

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PPS Moderators: My apologies for already making an obvious mistake on these forums!)
I hadn't even noticed! Don't worry about it, there are several smiley addicts amongst our number...some even import them from elsewhere :rolleyes:

 

I thought we had a Dorian Grey thread, and that I'd contributed to it (or even started it). Maybe we lost it when the site crashed earlier in the year.

Anyway, you are quite right about that first scene, it is wonderfully descriptive. Gives no hint of the decay to come!

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I hadn't even noticed! Don't worry about it, there are several smiley addicts amongst our number...some even import them from elsewhere :rolleyes:
Haven't got the faintest idea what - or which peple - you are talking about, there, Meg. ;)) Okay, I admit, I'm one of them! I love smilies, they make a forum conversation more personal.

 

Anyway, back to the real thread here. I read The Picture of Dorian Gray ages ago and would have reread it a long time ago if it wasn't for my already huge TBR pile. I have a good memory and usually still remember books I read as a teenager (if they were good ones). Anyway, this is one I have to think of very, very often. It has made a great impact on my life. There is a great message there. It's more important what you look on the inside (or in this case on the picture) than on the outside.

 

My son once had a children's book that really picked up on this story and I thought, if they copy a classic to make it into a modern children's book, that really tells you it's a great story, right? If I find it, I'll post the title, it was really cute.

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PS I don't know about the Nursery Crimes (a novel, I presume?)

A series - featuring the Nursery Crimes Department at Reading Police. Book One = The Big Over Easy. The sequel The Fourth Bear features a used car salesman called Dorian Gray, who sells the main character a car -

in the boot of the car is a painting of it. When Jack has a number of accidents the car never seems to get hurt, but the painting does...

 

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I brought The Picture of Dorian Grey a while back now and honestly did not know what to expect.

My Dad had already told me the story, relaying it as he had been told when he was in school...I was intrigued.

Then I have to admit, I saw The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and I knew I had to get it when they mentioned Dorian Grey.

After reading the last page I had to bow down to Mr. Wilde's fantastic grasp on the near-forgotten beauty of the English Language! his describtions are bar-none in my opinion. How a man can turn a simple blue sky, a summer's day and a sweet smelling garden into a world a fantasy and beauty, into something someone might consider precious....it really makes you look out of your window and appreciate what is there.

It was one of the most influential piece of writing I have ever read!

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I didn't enjoy it. It's not that the prose isn't descriptive, it's just that I couldn't settle into it as a novel. I always had the feeling that I should be watching it on a stage as it felt like I was reading a script.

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I always had the feeling that I should be watching it on a stage as it felt like I was reading a script.
Well, yes, that's Oscar Wilde for you.

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Wasn't Dorian Gray in the league of extraordinary gentlemen?

 

Why would that be?

 

 

Yes Dorian Grey was in the league of extraordinary gentlemen. He was in the film because while his picture was intact he was an immortal...he wouldn't die. Instead he would stay exactly the same as the day he was painted. That is his curse in the story that he brings upon himself.

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I didn't enjoy it. It's not that the prose isn't descriptive, it's just that I couldn't settle into it as a novel. I always had the feeling that I should be watching it on a stage as it felt like I was reading a script.

 

That's interesting Lucy, do you think that is because he is such a wonderful playwright? There are certainly great similarities between the Picture of Dorian Gray and the Importance of Being Ernest, the least among these being the endless conversations between the leading characters. On and on! But I love it - obviously it is greatly lacking in plot points, and it is a bit of a hard read at stages, moving very slowly at stages, particularly through his meanderings over his latest pleasures, but this is more than compensated for me through Wilde's witty dialogue, and character centred motivations.

 

Speaking of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen what do people actually think of it critically? (sorry to go off-topic, but I'm interested in seeing it and wondering whether it is worth the time aka. should I see Oceans 13 instead?!) ;)

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Speaking of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen what do people actually think of it critically? (sorry to go off-topic, but I'm interested in seeing it and wondering whether it is worth the time aka. should I see Oceans 13 instead?!) ;)

 

I highly recommend watching this movie...not only is it funny, witty, with it copius(sp?) amount of action...it's lead by none other than Shaun Connery himself (woot!)

 

The actor Stewert Townsend (previously in themovie Queen of the Damned as the Vampire Lestat), in my opinion plays him most amazing performance to date as none other than Dorian Grey himself. (this time with black hair and brown eyes...a figure I believe he would have taken if he had not died an had remained immortal. The movie is very good and definatly a good watch!

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Speaking of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen what do people actually think of it critically? (sorry to go off-topic, but I'm interested in seeing it and wondering whether it is worth the time aka. should I see Oceans 13 instead?!) ;)
You might go into the Anything but books forum and place your question there since that might draw more answers. I haven't seen the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen but read Dorian Gray. For someone else it might be the other way around and they won't look here.

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Hey,

 

Reading this thread has got me excited. I haven’t read Dorian Grey yet but it is on the list of books I requested my brother get me for my Birthday nxt week and after reading this thread it will be the first one I read!!

 

 

 

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen[/i] what do people actually think of it critically? (sorry to go off-topic, but I'm interested in seeing it and wondering whether it is worth the time aka. should I see Oceans 13 instead?!) ;)

 

I have seen The League of Gentlemen but a long time ago. I remember enjoying it. I can’t remember the plot too well to give a proper critical opinion but I do remember it dose get a bit action film like in places (which is fine if you like that sort of thing) and you have to forgive a few inaccuracies from as the film kind of distorts the texts from which they take their characters – I think Mina from Dracula being the worst. Hope that helps :)

 

Artemis

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I love everything I've read by Wilde, and Dorian Gray is no exception. I even have three cats named Dorian, Henry and Basil. I found it a very enjoyable read, Wilde's descriptions are second to none, and some of Lord Henry's 'aphorisms' had me in stitches. Although it does get a little slow in places, especially when talking about Dorian's pastimes, it is definitely worth reading. :D

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My (almost) 18yo son has just read this in a day and really liked it. We just went to an international bookshop and he bought about nine other classics. ;)

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My (almost) 18yo son has just read this in a day and really liked it. We just went to an international bookshop and he bought about nine other classics. ;)

 

Thats very impressive, my eldest is almost 22 and hasn't read anything more challenging that harry potter! Speaking of Dorian Gray i'm currently listening to a version on my ipod read to me by crispin bonham-carter! i've read it many times before but its a nice to have it read to you, especially when i'm cooking or something and don't have free hands.

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Thats very impressive, my eldest is almost 22 and hasn't read anything more challenging that harry potter!
He has always loved reading. He read all three Lord of the Rings (plus various other Tolkien books) when he was eleven and quite some time before everyone was talking about the movie. The new Harry Potter - he read that in a day, too. It's just what he is, once he starts a book he has to finish it as soon as possible.

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Hurrah! Dorian lovers! I first got round to reading this book a while after I saw the B&W film, which I loved. Read the book quite quickly, and absolutely loved it. I love the descriptions, and the way that Wilde manages to describe grotesque things as well as he does beauty. I would really recommend reading this if/after you've read any biographies of Wilde, as I think he's really drawing on his life in this, with the grotesqueness of some of it, and particularly on the book that Dorian reads, which is generally accepted to be based on, or simply to be Joris Karl Huysmans' The Damned, which had a big effect on Wilde when he read it. I think it wouldn't be too far from the truth to say that Dorian is almost semi-autobiographical. I stumbled across another book by J.K. Huysmans in the library, and he's really interesting as well, so I'd recommend reading anything by him, especially having read this. Really, really interesting book, and one I look forward to reading again.

 

Really sorry, but I don't know how to spoiler things, and I'm thinking that the above paragraph is probably a bit of a spoiler. Sorry!

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Really sorry, but I don't know how to spoiler things, and I'm thinking that the above paragraph is probably a bit of a spoiler. Sorry!

Don't worry - nothing spoilery in there. However, you can learn how to use spoiler tags in this thread.

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Do you know who's cast in it yet?

You can see some early publicity pics here.

 

There's also a Film 2008 featurette here. Unsurprisingly, Jonathan Ross manages to drag the references back to himself within seconds of the on-set piece starting.

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