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message 1: by Meghan (new)

Meghan I just wanted to put thoughts here that was separate from the book discussion in case someone was not finished reading the book, I didn't want it to influence their reading.

But I found out why Wilde never was specific about what Dorian did that was so terrible. It was a quote after the story from Wilde himself. He said that he wanted the reader to bring his own interpretation of the evil deeds. Something to the effect that the thoughts you bring are maybe the deeds that you either have in you or would consider if you were in Dorian's place...I can't remember the quote directly. Will post it later.

But I thought that was interesting. All the things I was "inferring" and trying to deduce. Perhaps our 21st century minds are too polluted so none of it is as shocking as it probably was to the 19th century man.

Again, I have more thoughts here but will have to post later.

message 2: by Joanie (new)

Joanie | 197 comments That's really interesting Meghan. I think that's what's so powerful about books in general, so much is left up to the readers imagination, it makes the experience of reading so personal. Some of what we all imagined Dorian doing is probably worse given all we've been exposed to over the years!

message 3: by Sera (new)

Sera Well done, Meghan. Once again, you find answers to our questions. And frankly, I like that response from Wilde. What would Dorian have done to make us feel that his actions were horrific? Let the reader decide - hmmm, I like that concept.

message 4: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Well, I have the Barnes and Noble Classics version of the book, and I have to admit that for this story, I really liked it. The back has lots of goodies and one is a section of "Comments & Questions".

I expanded a bit on his comment. The actual quote is:

"Each man sees his own sin in Dorian Gray. What Dorian Gray's sins are no one knows. He who finds them has brought them."
--from the Scots Observer (July 12, 1890)

message 5: by Meghan (new)

Meghan I also thought this was an interesting comment about Wilde's intention for writing this book:

"Scrunitized by critics who questioned its morality, the novel portrays the author's internal battles and arrives at the disturbing possibility that 'ugliness is the only reality'."

I've just finished another book, The Book Thief which is about Nazi, Germany. I found it interesting the parallels of this book to that one and what both authors had to say about the ugliness of humanity. It also made me question was there any redeeming character in Dorian? They either were participants in the misdeeds or passive audience. At least TBT gave one hope that there is a nobleness in man that will endure all wrongs.

message 6: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Oh and I found it incredibly ironic and horribly sad that Wilde died penniless exiled in Paris from menigitis.

Why are all the great artists penniless when they die? Is it some sort of rite of passage you have to go through to enter into the book of historical great ones?

message 7: by Alison, the guru of grace (last edited Apr 20, 2008 02:55AM) (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
I'm moving these two posts from a thread entitled "Dorian Gray: The Ending." It kind of fell off into the, I'm pulling it all back together.

ALISON: I wanted to reply to Meghan's post, but I thought I'd better start this thread to avoid spoilers.

I REALLY enjoyed this book. For what it's worth...this is really *my kind of story* in that it uses an interesting story to illustrate a deeper meaning.

Anyway, toward the end, the question is raised..."What does is profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul"? I think this is the heart of the novel. Does the soul exist, and if so, what is it's significance? What is important in life...the acquisiton of *things* and the way that we *appear* to others, or the way we make use of our time for a greater good, and the way we treat others?

I think it's very interesting that Wilde, who seemed to live an "indulgent" lifestyle, would write one of the greatest morality tales ever. I really loved the way this turned Gothic and macabre at the end, too (bringing to mind E.A. Poe). Great pick!

DOTTIE: It's definitely a classic tale and as was pointed out by Wilde at his trial -- those who held it up as having no moral worthiness completely missed the greatest moral of the tale which I think is the very one you are addressing here. I wish I hadn't taken the Modern Library edition back to the library already so I could have given the exact quote as it was very strong and what I've given here is not hitting the note at all! I really enjoyed revisiting this one as I said elsewhere earlier.

Carry on!

message 8: by Kailey (new)

Kailey Miller | 22 comments After reading one of Wilde's essays on art, I think that he is illustrating the difference between art and real life. Dorian saw how beautiful the painting was and he wanted his life to be as beautiful. After trading his soul for beauty is life sucks. Art isn't supposed to imitate real life it's just supposed to be beautiful. Reality is ugly, I think that is one of the main points of the story. Wilde's view of art is that is should be completely opposite of real life. Dorian fell in love with the actress, but he didn't fall in love with her really, he fell in love with the beauty of Shakespeare.

message 9: by Meghan (new)

Meghan OMG! I'm sorry Alison. See, if it's not listed in the main 5, I don't check. I really need to check. Oy. But that would require me to use my eyes and parts of my brain and apparently that's asking too much of me right now.

Anyway, I really like your points. It's an interesting question. I'd like to say I'd choose my soul. But one does have to ask if you were given the choice of your soul and the thing you most desired, would you be able to choose? Also, it's a good lesson to be careful of what you ask for as you just might get it!

message 10: by Alison, the guru of grace (last edited Apr 20, 2008 06:30PM) (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
No worries, Meghan. The threads do get a little crowded. I'm so over the "gaining the whole world" type stuff. As long as my family is healthy and I have a few close friends to kick around with...I'm good. And my books, of course!

message 11: by Becca (new)

Becca | 26 comments Kailey, I think you're right about Wilde's view of art being beautiful and life being ugly. I also think this story is a warning to not get the two confused. You bring up the relationship with Sybil Vane and how he was in love with Shakespeare and not her. He fell out of love with her when she showed a will and feelings of her own and stopped being just a show to look at. Maybe the "beauty" of art is that it makes perfect sense and the "ugliness" of life is that it isn't always ordered and perfect.

Not articulating this so well. I was a little too quick to turn in the book.

message 12: by Angie (new)

Angie | 512 comments I am sad to find out about how Wilde died. I think a lot of authors back then didn't make much money. Isn't it the same for Jane Austen? She didn't become famous till later.

message 13: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments Angie. I think Wilde *did* have fame and money--he just lost everything with his trial and time in prison.

message 14: by Robbie (new)

Robbie Bashore | 592 comments One thing I noticed in the book was how there was a comment about the Christian idea that one can just live as sinful a life as they want, then be forgiven later. It jumped out at me because I had read that Oscar Wilde actually converted to Catholicism on his deathbed. I don't know that I'd go so far as to say that was Wilde's plan for his own life, but it is something that makes me go, "hmmm..."

He also used some language about the painting that was a little bit of Christ imagery by saying the painting was paying the price for Dorian's sins. Perhaps the ending of the book was supposed to be an illustration that he thinks such an arrangement isn't really possible?

message 15: by Meghan (new)

Meghan oooohhhh deep thoughts Robbie! But good point. I'm going to go ponder it now.

message 16: by Alison, the guru of grace (last edited May 12, 2008 02:46PM) (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
"Perhaps the ending of the book was supposed to be an illustration that he thinks such an arrangement isn't really possible?

I think so, Robbie. I think Dorian's attempt to destroy the portrait actually destroyed him because, even if you are of the belief that Christ is able to "pay the price for..sins", that doesn't change the fact that the evil deeds that we do become a part of us, and change our course, even if we are forgiven of them. Even with a "death-bed conversion" type experience, if, that was indeed the case with Wilde, he's still most likely remembered for his indulgences.

message 17: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Well, for Christians, the idea is if you are truly repentent of your sins, then they are forgiven. But one questions the sincerity of Gray's moives. I think he was tired of looking at his ugly soul and wanted it "pretty" again. But whether or not he was truly repentent of all the horror he caused (the lives he wrecked, the people he spoiled, even murder--some might say two) is up for debate. I think he liked the idea of being able to erase his sins with good deeds.

message 18: by Summer (new)

Summer | 34 comments I first read this book twenty years ago. (That sounds crazy, but it's true. When I became discontent with the Sweet Valley High series and that ilk, my very understanding school librarian began shepherding me through the classics, so in seventh grade I read: Dickens, Wilde, Hawthorne, Austen, and some modern stuff like Zindel & Hinton, but I digress.) As an adolescent, I COMPLETELY missed the homosexual overtone of Basil's infatuation with Dorian. I now see it, but I don’t think that Basil had any thought of Dorian returning his feelings and I don’t think that Henry and Dorian’s relationship was based on sexual attraction. I think it was based on hedonism. Before meeting Henry, Dorian seems sheltered and naïve, but he finds Henry’s determined and eloquent pursuit of debauchery fascinating and it becomes his undoing. How much trouble can Henry actually get into? Not as much as he wants, I'm guessing. He lives vicariously through Dorian. How ironic is it that Wilde makes the moralist a homosexual and the hedonist a married “respected” nobleman? No one’s inviting Basil to their fancy parties, are they? He even has Basil approach Dorian with concerns about all the rumors surrounding his behavior. Do you think Wilde made his point clearly enough?

Now, if I may ask a question, I may have missed this, but who was the woman who identifies Dorian in the opium den? Was it Mrs. Vane?

message 19: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Stirrat | 201 comments I have been wondering and wondering what to say about Dorian Gray and recently came across a GR review by Trevor that so perfectly captures all of my notes and contemplations that I am stealing it and quoting liberally below.

Trevor says:

"[A] very good friend of mine, who died a couple of years ago, spoke to me about this book and I was worried that might make it hard to read for quite other reasons. He said that when he read this book as a young man it made him certain that he was not homosexual. Now, that in itself was enough to make me curious about the book.

This is a book that could only have been written by a homosexual male and it is a book about homosexuality in very many ways. The obsession with youth and beauty is almost a cliché of homosexual obsessions – though the ‘dandy’, the vanity of men, is much more common now, I think. We are increasingly a culture obsessed with appearance. I wonder if reading the book and seeing this obsession was the thing that convinced my friend he was not homosexual, if that was the thing that made him say, ‘no, that’s not me’. Or rather if it was the expression of desire very early in the book for Dorian Gray by Basil, his painter and ardent admirer, that convinced him.

. . . .

One of the most quotable quotes in this book is an attack on realism in fiction – “That is the reason I hate vulgar realism in literature. The man who could call a spade a spade should be compelled to use one. It is the only thing he is fit for.” I understand this is hardly a ‘realistic’ story – I mean, it is really a myth and takes liberties with ‘reality’ so as to comment on the world through the form of a myth – but like all such stories centered on something that is clearly ‘over-the-top’ it is contained in a shell that struck me as remarkably realistic."

Trevor said it well, I think.

message 20: by Dottie (new)

Dottie (oxymoronid) | 698 comments Thanks for psoting that review here. It's a powerful assessment of a powerful book in my opinion.

message 21: by Alison, the guru of grace (last edited May 14, 2008 08:13AM) (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
Wow. That's very interesting. Back to what Summer said...interesting point that Basil (the most overt homosexual of the book, I'd say) behaves the most "morally upright" of the group. Is this Wilde's commentary on the hypocrisy he likely encountered in his day?

As to Trevor' is really a myth and takes liberties with ‘reality’ so as to comment on the world through the form of a myth...I agree that while making some broad, blanket generalizations, they do not detract from the quality of the story. Thanks, Trevor, wherever you are!

message 22: by Angie (new)

Angie | 512 comments Looks like there is going to be a movie:

message 23: by Arctic (new)

Arctic | 571 comments ooh! ooh! Colin Firth alert!

Does that age me, for not saying Ben Barnes instead?

thanks for pointing this out, Angie.

...i still need to finish this book...*hides* (though really, I read it once in high school, I just don't recall it very well)

message 24: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
Heather, I'm right with you... *I* was the one who nominated and pushed it, then I never got to it! It's one of the books I'm dying to catch up with!

message 25: by Alison, the guru of grace (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
Woo hoo! Good-lookin movie.

message 26: by Dini, the master of meaning (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
Thanks for the link, Angie! I hope the movie will be good, as I heard there hasn't been a decent film version of Dorian Gray made (most of them just focus on the homosexuality).

I find it weird that Colin Firth plays Lord Henry to Ben Barnes' Dorian, but in an also-to-be-released movie, Easy Virtue, he plays Ben's father.

message 27: by Ann (new)

Ann | 345 comments Okay, I don't know if this is the best place to post this or not, but I wanted to post something on Colin Firth and he seems to come up a few times in this thread, so...
For those of you who love him (is there anyone who doesn't!?) I have a few movies to HIGHLY recommend you viewing:
The Importance of Being Ernest
Even if Firth wasn't in this, it's still so hilarious and witty!!! It's probably not going to appeal to everyone, but I would think most GG fans would feel at home with the witty banter and hilarious plots! Plus, if you'd like to see Firth smile more than that ONE time in "P&P" at the end (as in, we can see your teeth kind of a smile) then totally check this out!
Nanny McPhee
I know, "kid" movie, but it was really cute - and Firth was SO adorable as a tired, down-on-his-luck dad. Plus, Emma Thompson!
Finally, Mamma Mia. TOTALLY different feel, but um - SO funny!!!!! I have to give Firth even more credit as an actor now that I've seen him in this!!!!!! (side note - fun to compare the "singing" in this and Ernest")

message 28: by Angie (new)

Angie | 512 comments Thank you! I don't really know who he is and now I am going to check out these movies!

message 29: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
Hey Ann, we have a "movies, movies, movies" thread where you'd likely get many more responses because people won't always look at threads about books they haven't read. Just a thought. Oh, and I enjoyed all of those movies very much. Good Oscar Wilde )love him!) tie in with The Importance of Being Earnest!

message 30: by Arctic (new)

Arctic | 571 comments two further words regarding Firth: Mr. Darcy


message 31: by Ann (new)

Ann | 345 comments Thanks whichwaydidshego!! I'll go post this there then! I appreciate your letting me know! Any chance to "spread the Firth joy" and I'll take it!:D Glad you're an Oscar Wilde fan, too! The "muffin" scene is one of my all time movie favorites!:D

And Angie, I hope you like these films if/when you get to view them;)

And Arctic, yes, *sigh* ;>

message 32: by Alison, the guru of grace (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
So when do we change our group icon to Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy? What are we waiting on?????? hahaha.

message 33: by Ann (new)

Ann | 345 comments ;D lol

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