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The Picture of Dorian Gray
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Here we talk about read books. > The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

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message 1: by Jordan (new)

Jordan | 240 comments Mod
What did everyone think of this book?


message 2: by Danielle (last edited Oct 19, 2016 06:05PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Danielle | 69 comments I really enjoyed this book. It's very poetically written but it wasn't just a compilation of pretty words, it was witty and entertaining. As for the characters, none of them were particularly likable and the sexist comments were aplenty, but I feel like the point of the book was to spotlight the ugly in people. The young and beautiful Dorian Gray sold his soul to keep his youth and good looks. His selfishness and vanity made him a detestable character that got away with all of the vile things he did. I found myself annoyed at his lack of morality and how he turned things around. An example that comes to mind is how he was annoyed at how Sybil's poor performance had made 'him' look and how selfish she had been for killing herself. How dare she not think of him and the long hour of discomfort it would cause him!

One thing I found fun was the foreshadowing of Dorian's death in the beginning. He throws a tantrum about how painting will mock him as he ages and Basil gets upset and decides to destroy it. He goes towards the painting with a knife of some sort causing Dorian to yell out to stop, that to destroy the painting would be to kill him.


message 3: by Jordan (new)

Jordan | 240 comments Mod
Danielle, I have been slacking and am only halfway done with the book, so I can only comment on what I have read so far. With that being said, I have had an amusing thought throughout this story so far. The Picture of Dorian Gray is almost like a Victorian Era Jersey Shore. (Disclaimer: I have never actually watched Jersey Shore. I just know the reputation those people have as selfish, superficial children who are obsessed with their own looks). The difference is that Dorian and friends are fictional and the plot is how vanity and cruelty are ruinous.

Another fun detail I'd like to mention is that this story takes place a decade or so before our last book, The Jungle. At one point one of the characters, I believe Lord Henry, is discussing the idea of making his fortune in the pork packing business in Chicago.


Danielle | 69 comments Jordan, that is an interesting and hilarious comparison to The Jersey Shore. I, too, noticed the part where they discussed the pork packing business in America. It was like old familiar territory after our last book.

Emma, hopefully you get the chance to read it and join in the discussion.


message 5: by Amy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Amy Wong (amywong_marsu) | 47 comments Danielle I agree with your interpretation but I do think some of the characters were likeable. Basil was one that comes to mind. He is just a guy who likes to paint and found a guy who is particularly photogenic or paintogenic! Lol! He is a good guy who doesn't like corruption and all the bad influence of characters like Lord Henry. In the very start of the book he yells at Lord Henry to not corrupt little Dorian.

Jordan I don't know Jersey Shore. What is it about? I totally didn't catch that about The Jungle!! Do you think Oscar Wild and Upton Sinclair knew one another?

Emma hello! Good book choice! I am glad you joined our club. I was a freshman not too long ago and I know how crazy it gets. My problem was always keeping up with the homework. I felt like I could never get on top of it. What is your degree in? College is important! This book club can wait lol!


message 6: by Jordan (new)

Jordan | 240 comments Mod
Emma, you can do it. We believe in you!

Danielle, I thought it was poetic too. At times I felt like I was reading Shakespeare. I am definitely not an authority on poetry, but there was a certain cadence that seemed familiar.

Amy, I have never actually seen Jersey Shore, but from what the parodies have told me it's about a group of 20-somethings with fake tans, too much free time, and various mental illnesses. It's reality TV at it's greasiest.

I agree with your interpretation of Basil. He was the one reasonable person in this novel. He just wanted to paint and capture what he thought was beautiful, but he was surrounded with hedonists. I don't know of Upton Sinclair and Oscar Wilde ever met, but your question interested me so I looked it up.

Oscar Wilde died in 1900 at 46 years old, Upton Sinclair was born in 1878 and was in NYC at the time of Wilde's death. It's very unlikely that they crossed paths, but what is more interesting to me is the madness surrounding Oscar Wilde's final years. If you get a chance skim the Wikipedia article.


message 7: by Amy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Amy Wong (amywong_marsu) | 47 comments Greasy! Is that racist?

So Oscar and Upton could have met. OMG did Oscar have a bad life at the end! What a bunch of crazy laws they had in England then.

Did anyone else read it or just us?

Have any of you heard of a comic called "The League of Extraordinary Gentleman" ?


message 8: by Jordan (new)

Jordan | 240 comments Mod
Amy, I don't think that's racist, but it might be. I'm not really sure. Now you have me worried.


message 9: by Jordan (new)

Jordan | 240 comments Mod
And yes, I have heard of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. It's the movie that made Sean Connery quit acting.

I have only seen the movie adaptation. Garret would be the one to talk to about that. He knows the source material and the source material for the source material.


Michael Ferry | 22 comments I read this book!

Well, listened to it...

And I really liked it, especially after the sun-shiny Disney ending to Upton's Jungle, this one ended like a tragic morality tale is meant to end, all bloody and depressing.

Amy, I had no idea Mr. Wilde had such a terrible end until I heard something about a snobby art thing at an English prison on the radio, and they mentioned this book....

So to jump topics real quick...
Turns out Oscar's final work was a letter to his lover, Lord Alfred Douglas, son of the Marquess of Queensberry (of the Queensberry rules of boxing), titled"De Profundis", Latin: "from the depths"

He wrote it a page-a-day at a time, as the warden wouldn't allow him to have more than a single sheet at a time, for some Victorian weirdo reason, and now famous people perform it (all 6 and a bit hours of it) in the prison in which he wrote it. For art.

Anyway, I think the book was somewhat autobiographical, and I think Oscar was projecting portions of himself, or parts of his personality into all of the main characters.

His vanity, and romantic dalliances are best reflected in Dorian, his artistic expression of love and feeling are shown through Basil, and his contempt for the modern (for his time) moral stiffness and subjugation are spoken by Lord Henry.

So, maybe a bit of a confession, a bit of a protest, and a bit fantasy, all rolled into a romantic, elegant, creepy little novel.

Overall, I think it was pretty good novel for an Irish poet and playwright.


message 11: by Amy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Amy Wong (amywong_marsu) | 47 comments Mike lives! Wooooo lol!

Mike are you being racist now with the Irish comment? First Jordan now you haha. I didn't even realize he was Irish because there wasn't enough drinking lol!


message 12: by Jordan (new)

Jordan | 240 comments Mod
Mike, glad you are still here!

While I get where you are coming from with the Disney-style ending of The Jungle, for me it felt kinda like Sinclair was a sophomore in college who had to write a persuasive paper for a creative writing class, but spent the weeks leading up to the due date smoking the reefer and reading edgy Marxist blog posts. He had the essay finished and while proofreading it he realized he spaced and never actually wrote the motivational, persuasive end of the tale. So, at 3am he scrambled to come up with something that was remotely coherent and this is what we got.

With that being said I agree with the rest of your interpretation. I didn't know Wilde's fate until after I finished this novel. Once I did things made a lot more sense and I can definitely agree on the autobiographical vibe.

I have actually heard of the Queensbury rules, but only as a side joke in novels or cartoons. I never actually knew what they meant.

Man. Imagine that. You are one of the very few "publically" gay people in England. That alone is currently a crime and it happens your lover is the son of the guy who wrote the book on boxing. He calls you out at your favorite club and a long, horrible lawsuit follows. It ultimately ruins you socially and financially and you poor and alone in some French hillbilly ghetto.

Has Shia Labeouf performed in that prison?

Amy, Mike isn't being racist. He is Irish and is allowed to say whatever he wants about the Irish. Just like I can say whatever I want about the Greeks or Italians. Them's the rules, fam.


message 13: by Amy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Amy Wong (amywong_marsu) | 47 comments Jordan I can't tell if you are serious or not but isn't racism always bad?


message 14: by Jordan (new)

Jordan | 240 comments Mod
Yes, probably. Isn't making a joke about the Irish drinking racist?


message 15: by Amy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Amy Wong (amywong_marsu) | 47 comments Duh! I was being sarcastic lol


Danielle | 69 comments "it felt kinda like Sinclair was a sophomore in college who had to write a persuasive paper for a creative writing class, but spent the weeks leading up to the due date smoking the reefer and reading edgy Marxist blog posts. He had the essay finished and while proofreading it he realized he spaced and never actually wrote the motivational, persuasive end of the tale. So, at 3am he scrambled to come up with something that was remotely coherent and this is what we got."

Jordan, that was a brilliant interpretation!

Mike, I think you are right with your thoughts that it is partly autobiographical.

I read that in an introduction by Wilde for the second edition of The Picture of Dorian Gray, Wilde states the following:
Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world thinks me: Dorian what I would like to be-in other ages, perhaps.

It really is unfortunate how Wilde's life ended up. I had heard of him and of his works, but this is my first time reading anything from him or about him. I can say that I am interested in reading more.


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