The Book Cult discussion

184 views
The Picture of Dorian Gray

Comments Showing 1-40 of 40 (40 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by R.G (new)

R.G (rgsdevilship) | 46 comments Mod
So the day is here! I'll be starting it tonight when I'm in bed. I'm so excited to finally get stuck in.


message 2: by Ronan (new)

Ronan | 5 comments How much of it have you read? I've only read the first chapter so far but I loved it. I can't help but do a ridiculously over the top accent when reading it though, which is adding to my enjoyment because it makes it sound so dramatic.


message 3: by Manon (new)

Manon (hekate-the-running-maiden) | 2 comments My copy has just arrived, so if all goes well I'm gonna be starting this tonight! I'm very excited, since I never read "darker" books (usually I read fantasy/historical fiction), so I'm very curious about how this one plays out for me. Glad you're enjoying it, Ronan, it sounds very good already (I love being able to read different accents/tones in my books, it makes everything so much more realistic)! Happy (or is it? :P) reading to you both!


message 4: by royaevereads (new)

royaevereads | 1 comments This is a re-read for me, just read the first chapter or so and am loving it even more than I remembered haha. Excited to hear everyone's thoughts


message 5: by Tres (new)

Tres Trece (trestrece) | 7 comments Starting tomorrow!


message 6: by R.G (new)

R.G (rgsdevilship) | 46 comments Mod
Ronan wrote: "How much of it have you read? I've only read the first chapter so far but I loved it. I can't help but do a ridiculously over the top accent when reading it though, which is adding to my enjoyment ..."

I'm only on chapter 3 so far. It is a bit over the top but I love it.


message 7: by R.G (new)

R.G (rgsdevilship) | 46 comments Mod
Monica wrote: "Just started today and I'm already well halfway through the second chapter. This book is awesome too bad I have to go to work "

I'm reading it through my lunch breaks. I get most of my reading done at work.


message 8: by Holden (new)

Holden Reklaw (holdenthatcher) | 2 comments Hooley Dooley I gotta get on this.


Plots and Points | 22 comments Chapter 1 done and here are my first impressions.

Being a filthy proletariat, stories about the guffawing excess of 'my betters' still rub me the wrong way, and isn't this just perfectly embodied in Lord Henry! The upshot is, it's Oscar wilde so the character can easily be read as a satire of the extremes of the upper classes of victorian England.

Then we've got dear Basil. His monologue about the virtues of dorian gray should have been enough to tip off Wilde's contemporaries about his own burgeoning homosexuality because let's face it, that entire passage was gay as a goose. (not that there's anything wrong with that).

I'm interested to see where this goes at least which is more than I can say for a lot of classics I've read.


message 10: by Anna (new)

Anna | 49 comments Read the first two chapters and have absolutely no idea where this is going! For some reason I had a very specific expectation about the plot but nah, prob not. Still though, it's making me so curious about the rest!


message 11: by Plots and Points (new)

Plots and Points | 22 comments R.G wrote: "I'm only on chapter 3 so far. It is a bit over the top but I love it."

Tell me about it. Dorian went from 0 - 100 about his looks in just about half a page! Talk about melodrama!


message 12: by Konstantinos (last edited Feb 08, 2017 02:20PM) (new)

Konstantinos (konstantinos_c) | 5 comments Hello people, unpopular opinion alert (probably)!

Well, I finished the book and my feelings are mixed. I liked the ending and some parts of it, but I found it extremely uneven.

I didn't care for any of the characters, maybe a little for Henry and someone who was introduced at the end but overall, I thought the way the characters spoke, thought or behaved was weird.

I don't know, maybe I wasn't in the right state of mind but unfortunately, this was just an okay read for me.

I can't wait to hear your opinions!


message 13: by Tres (new)

Tres Trece (trestrece) | 7 comments Plots and Points wrote: "Chapter 1 done and here are my first impressions.

Being a filthy proletariat, stories about the guffawing excess of 'my betters' still rub me the wrong way, and isn't this just perfectly embodied..."


Lord Henry started as a funny dandy with a bunch of catchphrases, a sardonical yet comical character but, ugh I cant with all the misogynistic and classist ideas that he portrays.

I wonder if somehow he's a reflection of Wildes ideas, idk much about the author and this is my first time reading him.

Overall the story is really interesting, Im on chapter 9.


message 14: by Anna (new)

Anna | 49 comments Does anyone else just have that when you're reading it, it's a nice story, well-written and the ideas Lord Henry brings forth are interesting, but when you're not reading it, you're barely able to bring yourself to read it because it just doesn't seem very interesting to you at that moment? idk it's a struggle for me


message 15: by Apoorva (new)

Apoorva (apoorvauk) | 3 comments Tres wrote: "Lord Henry started as a funny dandy with a bunch of catchphrases, a sardonical yet comical character but, ugh I cant with all the misogynistic and classist ideas that he portrays.

I wonder if somehow he's a reflection of Wildes ideas..."


If the goodreads summary is to be believed, Lord Henry represents the way society viewed Oscar Wilde, rather than a reflection of his own ideas.
But god, Lord Henry is getting on my nerves.

I want to throw this book against a wall, but at the same time I can't stop fucking reading it. Damn Oscar Wilde.


message 16: by Plots and Points (new)

Plots and Points | 22 comments Anna wrote: "Does anyone else just have that when you're reading it, it's a nice story, well-written and the ideas Lord Henry brings forth are interesting, but when you're not reading it, you're barely able to ..."

I absolutely get that. Once you pick it up and get a couple of pages in it hits a rhythm. I think one of the reasons for that is that it's so dialogue heavy. Oscar Wilde was a playwright primarily and it really shows in his style here. It's a lot of people sitting in rooms and talking and that's fine once you're there but there's not a lot going on plot-wise to drag you in.


message 17: by Carlos (new)

Carlos (thegingerelvis) Anna wrote: "Does anyone else just have that when you're reading it, it's a nice story, well-written and the ideas Lord Henry brings forth are interesting, but when you're not reading it, you're barely able to ..."

I really agree with you. It seems to me that the writing in this book is quite enjoyable to say the least. Especially the dialogue between Lord Henry and Basil in the opening chapter; I'd say that it's superb.


message 18: by Anna (new)

Anna | 49 comments I finished it and it just got so much better the further it progressed. Even though in the beginning I had a few doubts because the book was not what I expected (as I mentioned, I expected a lot of plot and stuff), when I finished it the story just felt so complete and good. If you're in a bit of a slump, just know that the story when completed is really quite clever and great. I must admit, however, that when I accepted it was more about the interaction between the characters I started to really love it.


message 19: by Plots and Points (new)

Plots and Points | 22 comments SPOILERS FOR CHAPTER 11


holy hell that was a terrible chapter. Coming off the back of a time skip its 20 pages of dorian Gray sitting around literally listing dozens of examples of the same things. It reads like Oscar wilde wasn't confident in the examples of a point he wanted to make in an essay so decided to give 12 examples of the same thing. It was so so so boring and could have been wrapped up in about 5 pages if it didn't go on and on. I do think though that was the point, to show dorian diving deep into all of these things to the point of wanton excess, still doesn't make for compelling reading.

Need a break after all that!


message 20: by Tres (new)

Tres Trece (trestrece) | 7 comments Plots and Points wrote: "SPOILERS FOR CHAPTER 11


holy hell that was a terrible chapter. Coming off the back of a time skip its 20 pages of dorian Gray sitting around literally listing dozens of examples of the same thing..."


totally agree


message 21: by A. (new)

A. (belletristt) | 4 comments The characters are indeed not that likable, I mean, Dorian is selfish and dramatic as hell, Harry is only playing with people's mind (he's also the most interesting for me for this very reason), and Basil... He's just there. I also think that we're not supposed to like them much, maybe I'm wrong but they seem like representations of society in a pessimistic/realist view. And I enjoy seeing the process of a character descending into insanity so I don't exactly //care// about any of them but the plot is very interesting and I've found myself enjoying the book more than I thought I would.

I just have many high expectations that I really really wish that they will be met.


message 22: by Plots and Points (new)

Plots and Points | 22 comments A. wrote: "The characters are indeed not that likable, I mean, Dorian is selfish and dramatic as hell, Harry is only playing with people's mind (he's also the most interesting for me for this very reason), an..."

Spot on about the characters being an interpretation of society. I think it's important to remember the cultural/historical background that this was written in. Victorian England, despite what steam-punk tells us, was not a jolly time of great invention for all but rather a dour time of repression and moral strictness. Basil is the pinnacle of Victorian ideals. He's an artist but he's still very proper and terrified to display the portrait of Dorian at the start because he's worried it reveals something immoral about himself (you can read that as repressed homosexual tendencies if you want).

Harry is essentially there to satire the Victorian upper class, he delights in making outrageous claims of an immoral or 'wicked' nature and spouts a hedonistic ideology that he doesn't actually believe in but enjoys getting a rise out of people. At the end of the day no matter how much nonsense he spouts he's still a relatively straight-laced Victorian. Basically a poser.

Then there's Dorian who literally embodies repressed beliefs. He quite literally locks away every wicked deed and immoral thought in a dusty old room whilst appearing to the outside world as a wholesome and moralistic individual (because beauty is purity). He naively buys into Harry's world-view because he's young and doesn't realize that Harry is just saying these things to be shocking and eventually it leads him down a dark path.

From a historical perspective this novel is quite fascinating because it really does challenge the perceptions and attitudes of the time and makes fun of how repressed everybody of that time really was (and how hypocritical the upper classes were in their wasteful excesses). It's little wonder that they put Oscar Wilde up on charges of indecency...


message 23: by Plots and Points (new)

Plots and Points | 22 comments Finally finished the book! Here's my spoiler-free review.

-Final Rating: 2 Stars-

A very interesting book that falls apart in the form of a novel. A sharp critique of Victorian society with creative and playful characters is marred by unavoidable pacing and plotting problems, hampered further by Wilde's over-indulgent writing style that drags otherwise interesting scenes into tedium.

Worth reading for historical significance but often quite a chore to chug through.


message 24: by Anna (new)

Anna | 49 comments Plots and Points wrote: "A. wrote: "The characters are indeed not that likable, I mean, Dorian is selfish and dramatic as hell, Harry is only playing with people's mind (he's also the most interesting for me for this very ..."

I love all this explanation about the historical aspect; as someone who knows very little about history I'd never have realized this in this degree! And it all makes so much sense! Oh it's so exciting. Book clubs are great. Too bad you didn't like it very much though, what did you think of the ending? I kind of half felt it coming but not really and it still blew me away; it contributed so much to my final liking of the book.


message 25: by Plots and Points (new)

Plots and Points | 22 comments Anna wrote: "Plots and Points wrote: "A. wrote: "The characters are indeed not that likable, I mean, Dorian is selfish and dramatic as hell, Harry is only playing with people's mind (he's also the most interest..."

I did enjoy the book for what it's worth, my rating system requires a little explaining. I award a star on 5 factors; Plot, Characters, Writing Style, Pacing and Overall enjoyment (which I call the arbitrary star award because I always decide to give it for different reasons). I only give a star if the book is top quality in the particular area. This one missed out on a couple of stars by only a little but I did overall enjoy it! (The stars were given for character and overall enjoyment, it would have got one for writing style if it was a play but as a novel it was a little lacking)

As for the ending it was ok but it suffered a lot from the pacing problems. Plot points were introduced and resolved within 5 pages of each other (SPOILERS- Particularly the stuff with James Vayne) but the ultimate conclusion played well into the morality tale that you can't hide from your problems forever and eventually you have to face what you have become and deal with that.

I'm glad I could shed a little light onto the context of it all! (did your version have an introduction? I enjoy reading those for classics once I've finished it as it helps to understand the circumstances it was written in.)


message 26: by Anna (new)

Anna | 49 comments Plots and Points wrote: "Anna wrote: "Plots and Points wrote: "A. wrote: "The characters are indeed not that likable, I mean, Dorian is selfish and dramatic as hell, Harry is only playing with people's mind (he's also the ..."

yeah mine has an introduction but I always skip those because 1. I'm always very excited for the story I am going to read and don't want to wait and 2. I used to read introductions but I once read an introduction that literally said "everybody knows in the end *main character* dies". I didn't. I was quite angry. (Oh hey I now see you said 'as you finished it', maybe I will. That's quite a good idea actually.)

SPOILERS
The stuff with James Vayne was just horribly solved in my opinion; there was so much foreshadowing and it had so much potential as a subplot but it was just like Wilde started off with a great idea and eventually realized it didn't fit in his plot.


message 27: by Plots and Points (new)

Plots and Points | 22 comments Hahaha, yeah I've had enough introductions spoil me on the story. I find 'introduction' to mean an introduction to analyzing/thinking about the work critically so I generally save them until I've finished the book now.

With the (SPOILERS) James Vayne stuff I think it was less about fitting it into the plot and more that Oscar Wilde was more comfortable writing plays (this is his first and only novel). You'll notice how the majority of the scenes are just two or more people sitting around and talking in a room with the more exciting stuff relegated to expository dialogue. The way the James Vayne plot was wrapped up makes sense for a stage show because it has to be somewhat limited in scale (just have him get shot whilst squatting in a bush, whatever.) and it's the reliance on that sort of thing that makes me think it would have worked MUCH better as a play than a novel.


message 28: by Anna (new)

Anna | 49 comments Plots and Points wrote: "Hahaha, yeah I've had enough introductions spoil me on the story. I find 'introduction' to mean an introduction to analyzing/thinking about the work critically so I generally save them until I've f..."

I haven't read a lot of plays, but even while just having seen a couple and having read the Cursed Child play (the HP one that was so badly received) it reminded me of a play. That probably makes sense then. Still, I kind of expected (SPOILERS) for him to kill Dorian Gray in the end for a while, especially since I just picked the book up once and opened it near the ending when I wasn't there yet and saw James' name being mentioned, but overall I think in a lot of books with such a build-up that would have happened. Maybe better it didn't then, because for one I liked this ending more, but also it might have been too obvious. It still stands that I found it a bit bleakly resolved, though, although in a play it probably would have worked indeed - and it probably would have been fucking hilarious.


message 29: by A. (new)

A. (belletristt) | 4 comments Plots and Points wrote: "SPOILERS FOR CHAPTER 11


holy hell that was a terrible chapter. Coming off the back of a time skip its 20 pages of dorian Gray sitting around literally listing dozens of examples of the same thing..."


Finished chapter 11 yesterday and I tottaly agree with you. I think Wilde had an intention to write all those thousand pages of the same think, it was somewhat like a description of Dorian's personality? But yes, it seemed like the chapter would never end, actually, it became a blur for me because after some pages I couldn't pay much attention anymore.

Also, your analysis of the characters were great!


message 30: by R.G (new)

R.G (rgsdevilship) | 46 comments Mod
Plots and Points wrote: "SPOILERS FOR CHAPTER 11


holy hell that was a terrible chapter. Coming off the back of a time skip its 20 pages of dorian Gray sitting around literally listing dozens of examples of the same thing..."


I read chapter 11 today at work and my eyes kept glazing over. Where was it even going? What was the point? This is the reason why it's taking me so long to read a 180 page book!


message 31: by Plots and Points (new)

Plots and Points | 22 comments R.G wrote: "Plots and Points wrote: "SPOILERS FOR CHAPTER 11


holy hell that was a terrible chapter. Coming off the back of a time skip its 20 pages of dorian Gray sitting around literally listing dozens of e..."


It's a bizarre interlude. In my theory that Oscar Wilde should have just done this as a play this is where the interval would be and Wilde didn't know what to do so just wrote a load of descriptions of a load of rubbish to fill the space. It picks up again right after, it's just so odd.


message 32: by A. (new)

A. (belletristt) | 4 comments I've just finished the book, and, well, reading it was kind of a ride on a roller coaster because first I didn't like it, then it got a lot interesting, then it boring, and then the final was great. I think I'd like if we had gotten a deeper analysis of Dorian personality change, like you all said, I'd prefer minus dialogue and more plot.

Still, the last chapter was amazing, (view spoiler)

I'm not sure if I made myself understandable, as English isn't my native language, sometimes it fails me.


message 33: by Mark (last edited Feb 23, 2017 06:35AM) (new)

Mark Rzeszutek | 1 comments Finished it and probably enjoyed it more than expected, especially the first half. Except for that long list mentioned a few posts above, that was exhausting. The second time that pops up, later in the book, I just scanned to see where the end was and picked up from there. Towards the end, I started getting a bit impatient, but that may have more to do with me than with the story itself, and the very ending was satisfying enough. Looking forward to seeing what the next book is.


message 34: by Terry (new)

Terry | 3 comments Plots and Points wrote: "A. wrote: "The characters are indeed not that likable, I mean, Dorian is selfish and dramatic as hell, Harry is only playing with people's mind (he's also the most interesting for me for this very ..."

I enjoyed your analysis. I agree this was a satire of social mores of the day and also of the trend of sentimentality and even of realism, mixed with some sneakily added biographical writing. But that the Victorians as a group were repressed is a myth. Also there were a great many scientific, artistic, and cultural achievements during those decades.


message 35: by Plots and Points (new)

Plots and Points | 22 comments Terry wrote: "Plots and Points wrote: "A. wrote: "The characters are indeed not that likable, I mean, Dorian is selfish and dramatic as hell, Harry is only playing with people's mind (he's also the most interest..."

Glad you liked it! You're right, the Victorians as a singularly repressed people is an exaggerated stereotype (Not like they were living under jolly Cromwell exactly) but there was definitely a lean towards moral goodness and propriety, especially among the old nobility. This was after all the era of factory owners challenging landed gentry in terms of wealth and children being seen rather than heard. I just thought that certain characters, Lord Henry especially, was a good shot at lampooning those values.


message 36: by Anna (new)

Anna | 49 comments Anyone start valley of the dolls already?


Mindy'sBookJourney (mindysbookjourney) I have. I am about 100 pages in. I have some thoughts, nut don't want to spoil anything. I will say that I am glad my home state of Wyoming is as different as you can get from life in New York City.


message 38: by Anna (new)

Anna | 49 comments I'm a bit over 200 pages now and hm I'm not sure it's really for me. Sometimes I enjoy a scene but there's a lot I couldn't care less about and I find Anne quite a bit annoying, or at least not interesting (in the beginning I was sympathetic towards her but now I just don't really care any more? even though she hasn't done very radical things or something)


message 39: by Niall (last edited Apr 10, 2017 03:07AM) (new)

Niall O'Conghaile | 2 comments Wow! So 6 weeks later than planned I finally finished The Picture Of Dorian Gray! I have mixed feelings about this book, though on the whole I have to say did enjoy it. It made me laugh out loud on a couple of occasions, which to be honest I was not expecting. But I have to agree with Anna and Plots & Points unthread that, while the book was enjoyable to read once you got into it, it did feel like an effort to keep going as it wasn't necessarily something that kept me gripped or coming back with the need to know what happened next. I guess that is why it's dubbed a "philosophical" novel rather than a "rip-roaring adventure quest" or whatever. It is quite light on plot and the pacing is wildly uneven, which strangely enough reminded me of Bram Stoker's Dracula in a way: too many people sat around talking and not enough action or development. And yes Chapter 11 is a true slog (I ended up skimming the details of various jewel-encrusted metallic artefacts and the descriptions of rare and exotic Moroccan perfumes as it had become tedious, a bit like American Psycho). BUT on the plus sides: I thought the dialogue was great, well written and entertaining, if not quite realistic, and goddam it Wilde sure knew how to drop a zinger! My favourite being: "Philanthropic people lose all sense of humanity. It is their defining characteristic." which is just as on-the-nose in 2017 as it was in 1890. Some of the purple prose was entertaining enough, and certainly served to set-up this decadent world, and the decadent outlook of Lord Henry. As much as he was apparently some kind of metaphorical stand in for Satan himself, I did enjoy the book more when Harry was on the page, even when he was going into one of his monologues. He was the strongest character of all in my opinion, despite his cruelty and pretensions. The themes of the book are still pretty relevant, namely narcissism and decadence and self-absorption to the point of sociopathy, so this story could definitely be updated to the modern world and still work well.

OK. On to the underlying themes of homosexuality. This interests me a lot as a gay man, and it is important to acknowledge that The Picture Of Dorian Gray is a very important artefact in queer history. Just by the fact that it still exists, and is so well known, when so much of our culture and history has been either wiped out or hidden. And it's not for reading in to the text after-the-fact with the knowledge that Wilde himself was gay/bi, there's some very blatant allusions to homosexuality here. Most notably from Basil, who is obviously deeply in love with Dorian, and I think Harry may be in love with him too but their relationship is more paternalistic, and anyway the character of Harry is such a dilettante it wouldn't be becoming of him to admit he had any kind of major passion. Then there are the string of young men whose association with Dorian leaves them ruined, and the curious incident of Dorian blackmailing his friend Alan to [SPOILER] dispose of Basil's body. [/SPOILER] What was in that letter he passed to Alan and threatened to send to the authorities?

I would say this book, and perhaps all of Wilde's work, has had a big impact on queer culture and how gay men see themselves. It's flouncy and it's flowery, and Dorian seems to fling himself onto a chaise longue to weep bitterly into pillows hewn from the finest Persian silks at least once every other chapter (which reminds me of more than a couple of people I know). That could be a chicken-or-egg scenario as Wilde may just be reporting what he already saw in others, but then again, there are so little openly gay cultural artefacts available from this period (and in general) that anything that is this visible will undoubtedly become influential. And unfortunately that includes a lot of Harry's attitudes and philosophies, including both the unrealistic and unhealthy obsessions with youth and youth-as-beauty, his mile-wide cruelty streak and his general disinterest in other people's emotions. Reading this from the point of gay history is bittersweet! And, being honest, I didn't know much about this book or its history until I read the wikipedia page after I finished it last night. It was pretty enlightening. The novel was a scandal when it was first released, and many allusions to homosexuality had to be edited out, for fear of shocking the innocent women-folk (literally!). If you've finished the book (or even if you've not but read a few chapters) it's worth checking the wiki page out for a bit more information and context.


message 40: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Rose | 1 comments I remember I started reading this book many years ago. I remember enjoying it. I was watching 'Penny Dreadful' the other night and it made me want to re-read all of the classics. Good programme based on classic books. :)


back to top