Wednesday, February 28, 2007

a picture worth even more than a thousand words

Title: The Picture of Dorian Gray
Author: Oscar Wilde

# of Pages: 177
ISBN: 1853260150
Originally ~ Lippincott's Magazine 1890;
Wordsworth Classic - 1991

Challenge Read:
Classics Challenge Read 3/5
(I actually finished them all though! Posts to come)

Started Reading:
Februrary , 2007

Finished Reading:
Februrary 10th, 2007

The shame the horror - 177 pages in over a week. How am I to read 104 books in a year?! Just exactly how? Do I have an excuse - none! Is there ever when it comes to such a holy endeaveor? A reason - oh I have plenty of those~! There's the stress of satisfying the whims of the new chef at the cafe and having to handle all the giggly university girls that crowd the bar (yes he is cute unfortunatly). Oh yes, then there is the fact that I have less then 48 hours to move out of my amazingly downtown located apartment where I could shop, go to the movies and above all else GO TO STARBUCKS CHATPERS in moments. Oh dearest reader, the perils of my life! M has helped me pack my books. Total box count= 27. Should I complain of having such treasures in my life, surrounding my daily activities, keep me company during meals and greeting my guests. I did go out once or twice - facebook does that to you - but they were minor outings with little else then watching others drown their sorrows in cheep beer and even cheeper talk. The qulundrums of youth. But then again who said being 24 was young? Which brings us to dearest Dorian - our hero, villian and victim.

What Happens: Basil, a known British Victorian Artist, finds his inspiration a youth in his later teens called dorian Gray. His face a canvas of purity and innocence, his person untouched by corrupt intentions or stressful thoughts. That is until Harry, a acquaintance of Basil, who enters the studio sparks the youths imagination by expressing the importance of being young and how it is an outward indicator of what is within a specimen. Dorian, realizing for once that his youth would not last forever exclaims, " How I wish I .... am jealous of that picture...." Page 46563. These words, much like those between Faust and the Devil, create a pack between the portrait of Dorian and the man himself - the portrait bears the marks of Dorians age and self while the man remains in face at least, as soft and inviting as ever.

Here begins the twisted decent of Grays soul to corruption that levels on the border of madness until the reviting ending, this short classic being Wilde's only completed volume is unquestionably a neccesary addition to any serious philosophy/art student and serious reader.

Best Part: When Dorian stares at the painting for the first time with realization that it is bearing the brunt of his endeavors. The fear, elation and apprehention that he feels at that time simply consumes you. It makes the reader realize the power that an object can have in a society that allows posession to possess such strengths.

Also, Wilde's preface to the audiance is a short yet pivotal compilation of statments that prepares the reader for what follows. His phrases are clear cut and straight to the point yet send the mind whirling in circles with thoughts that contradict and agree, simotaneously even, with the truths presented. Riveting.

Worst Part: Well, Harry's continuous speaches to Dorian about 'not caring', 'enjoying the now', and so forth. A little too much but nothing that's majorily intrusive to the text that it dulls the sences.

Factoid: The press tore this text and it's author apart when it was published. It was not successful until printed as a single volume.

Why is this considered a Classic?

Well, other than the subject matter of art and mankind and the eccentric synergy exchanged between the two, one aspect of this text that raises above others is the writing. Wilde's care and attention to detail of phrase is apparent from the opening line.

"From the corner of the divan of Persian saddlebags on which he was lying, smoking, as was his custom, innumerable cigerettes, Lord Henry Wotton could just catch the gleam of the honey-sweet and honey-coloured blossoms of a laburnum, whose tremulous branches seemed hardly able to bear the burden of a beauty so flame-like as theirs; and now and then the fantastic shadows of birds in flight flitted across the long tussore-silk curtains that were stretched in front of the huge window, producing a kind of momentary Japaense effect, and making him think of those pallid jade-faced painters of Tokio who, through the medium of an art that is necessarily immobile, seek to convey the sence of swiftness and motion." page 5

Wilde tried to pull it off to the public that the work was done in a single writing but the text itself and later physical evidence of the re-writes the authors did. Why? Perhaps the attraction the public has to the concept of unedited work. Dali and many of the surrealists had promoted their own artworks under the same auspisos and like Wilde's novel, was soon found to be untrue.

Though set in Victorian society - and there being a certain part of the book devoted to criticing the times - the novel is indeed timeless. Art philosophy, the idea of where art 'fits', the responsability of the artist, the fame/God aspect that's given to this medium adds activly to the conversation that great minds such as Plato, Hume and Adorno have been having.

The Beef about me Not Posting: Guys, man, please don't hate me! Blogger was wacking out on me every time I tried to log on and post this. Then I had to move apartment! Sadly enough, I stored away some of my books at my nonnina's house ( she does have a heated, tiled garage perfect for my tresures). Just going through the boxes to find the books so that I can post on it is challenge enough. I am reading and loving MY NAME IS RED right now, which is my Feb read for TBR Challenge and finished all my reads for the classics challenge... the books are waiting to be posted! Tomorrow TRESURE ISLAND. Thanks for understanding guys!

New Words:

"... the two young men went out into the garden together, and ensconced themselves on a long bamboo seat that stood in the shade of a tall laurel bush." page 7

"then it began to scramble all over the oval stellated globe of the tiny blossoms." page 22

"... stooping down he wrote his name in long vermilion letters on the left hand corner of the canvas." page 23

"Yes, there would be a day when his face would be wrinkled and wizen, his eyes dim and colourless, the grace of his figure broken and deformed." page 23


tanabata said...

Hey, good to see you back on your blog! Unrelated to Dorian but I thoroughly enjoyed my read of The Makioka Sisters this month, and recently bought Snow Country based on your review a little while back. :)

Bybee said...

You're back, and that's all that matters. Great review of Dorian. I read this a while back, and also saw an old movie based on the book. It was very cool.

Bookfool said...

Great review. 27 boxes of books doesn't seem bad to me, but it can really annoy the friends who come to help you move - especially if you live up a flight of stairs. ;) M is a good egg, helping you in your time of need, eh?