Classics for Beginners discussion

The Picture of Dorian Gray
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Old Monthly Group Reads > The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

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message 1: by Nicolle (new) - added it

Nicolle Discuss the book here.

I am still waiting for the book to arrive and will join in when it does!

message 2: by Martha (new)

Martha (marthas48) I'm finishing another book first ... then will buckle down to a chapter or 2 a day. I think it's fairly short as classics go.

Lovescaleb Started the book a few days ago. Lord Harry is quite character. Hope everyone enjoys it.

Verena | 11 comments I am 3/4 done. I am glad that I checked out a version that includes many pictures and explanations. It is a fascinating story and I am not sure whether I should feel sorry for Dorian or hold him responsible for his actions.

:) Verena

message 5: by Veljko (last edited Jul 10, 2011 02:59PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Veljko (_vxf_) | 63 comments I will need to re-read this book for this discussion. I remember liking it a lot when we read it in school. Actually, it was one of the few books in school that caught my attention. Funny - or sad? - thing is, a lot of parents had a problem with this book, being mine a Catholic school. Something to do with the homoerotic themes didn't sit well with many parents...

Yet, I found their opposition to be a mixture of bigotry and ignorance. Mainly because the hedonistic lifestyle of Dorian is, ultimately, being presented in a negative light. If anything, I would say this book has a message most parents would have agreed with, if they had only bothered to read the whole thing.

Also, since this club is about introductions to classics, I would say that anyone interested in this theme should pair the reading of this book with Goethe's Faust - as Wilde himself has often spoken of his fascination with Faust and the similarities between the two books are many. Yet I have always been intrigued - in Faust the 'contract with the Devil' is very explicit, while Dorian is not aware of the trade-off he is engaging in, until it's too late. I think that makes a huge difference, yet I am not sure it redeems Dorian completely.

Anyhow... good reading!

Anna (gohomeannakin) I am a little more than halfway through. I've never read this before, and so far I love it. I relate very much to Dorian, although he represents the extreme of my own weaknesses.
There are definitely homoerotic themes, much of which correlate to Oscar Wilde's personal life. They are not portrayed negatively, but rather quite romantically.
In a way, I understand the pity for Dorian, because there is a goodness in him. There is something there that regrets the choices he has made. At the same time, there is little sympathy available for a person who can be so easily manipulated. It is hard to feel anything for a product of someone else's ideas.
I do believe there is an underlying battle of morality here, a sort of good versus evil. I think the focus is much more on art versus life and reality versus illusion rather than what is right and wrong.
Has this novel made you guys turn a few thoughts over yet, such as what is happiness? What is morality? What is art? I think books like this can stimulate a sort of darkness in us that is usually easy to ignore. It reveals to us a side of ourselves that has always been there but unaccepted. If a pure man like Dorian can possess such darkness, we are just as capable. It's a more powerful novel than most people are aware, I think.

Trisha I really enjoyed this novel and thought it to be a very clever concept, especially given the time period that it was written in.

Lovescaleb I finished the novel yesterday. Loved it. A powerful morality tale. I've always wanted to read this book. I'm recording "Dorian Gray" on Sunday on Showtime, the movie with gorgeous Colin Firth. Can't wait to read more classics with you all.

message 9: by Martha (new)

Martha (marthas48) I finished 2 books today so I'll concentrate on Dorian now. :-)

Kelli (kellik) I love love love this book - I read this book originally at college but have re read it several times since.

Personally I cant help but feel sorry for Dorian Despite the fact its really all his own fault and doing. Theres a strong message in the book that can not be missed. I would recommend this to anyone.

message 11: by Martha (new)

Martha (marthas48) Dorian seemed like such an innocent at the beginning of the book. This is a great commentary on the importance of choosing your friends carefully, I think.

Lovescaleb Could Dorian have had a seed of evil already in him? Or do we blame the immoral Lord Harry for everything? I'm torn between these two issues.

message 13: by Martha (new)

Martha (marthas48) That reminds me of the movie, "The Bad Seed", which was a book first I think. Maybe it would be a good one to read soon.I'm only about halfway so I don't know. He is certainly very quick to absolve himself from any guilt. Interesting question. Maybe he was just acting like an innocent and was really a sociopath. They are pretty good actors.

Marts  (Thinker) (thinkersutopia) Kelli wrote: "I love love love this book - I read this book originally at college but have re read it several times since.

Personally I cant help but feel sorry for Dorian Despite the fact its really all his ..."

Agreed Kelli, and its one of my favourites...

message 15: by Anna (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anna (gohomeannakin) Lovescaleb wrote: "Could Dorian have had a seed of evil already in him? Or do we blame the immoral Lord Harry for everything? I'm torn between these two issues."

Dorian definitely had evil that was already inside of him, he just hadn't quite tapped into it yet. All Lord Henry did was make Dorian aware that it was inside of him. You can even go so far as to say that each of us is capable of evil, we are just stronger willed than Dorian. His greatest flaw is not that he is evil, but that he is weak.

Lovescaleb Goid observation, Anna. Dorian is weak, a common lemming perhaps. Definitely a moral fable about influence, strengths & weaknesses.

message 17: by Danielle The Book Huntress (last edited Jul 20, 2011 05:44PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 614 comments Mod
I didn't feel sorry for Dorian. He had a lot of chances that he blew. I couldn't feel sorry for him because of how he deliberately hurt others, and felt no remorse about it. In my opinion, he wasn't a victim of circumstance. He had many advantages, but blew them. He chose the route he took. I agree that Lord Henry had too much of an effect on him initially. But it was clear that Lord Henry is the type that says a lot of things that they really don't mean. Basically just beautiful nonsense.

I think that the homoeroticism was very subtle and veiled. I see this story focusing on the willingness to do anything that felt good. I believe that there was a movement during the late 19th century towards decadence, and Wilde addresses this in his story, but does it in a very stylish, elegant manner. I liked that we never saw exactly what Dorian Gray's excesses were. We just have to make up our own ideas of what he might have been up to. To me, that's even more shocking because the sky is the limit really. As far as Basil's feelings for Dorian, I think that Basil had a sort of hero worship in that he only saw Dorian's beauty. As far as he was concerned, Dorian could have been an inanimate object of beauty for all it mattered.

Also, I liked how Wilde addresses the fact that external beauty can be horribly misleading. Many people in Dorian Gray's sphere find that out the hard way. They couldn't believe he was capable of the horrible things he was said to have done.

message 18: by Martha (new)

Martha (marthas48) I finished it this morning. I found some sections incredibly long-winded, but overall really liked the book. Plan to watch the movie soon.

Lovescaleb Let me know, Martha, what you think about the movie.

message 20: by Nicolle (new) - added it

Nicolle I am very dissapointed that my book hasn't even arrived yet!

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 614 comments Mod
You know this is free on Kindle? I understand if you want a print copy though.

message 22: by Martha (new)

Martha (marthas48) I got a print copy about a year ago when I dropped into Barnes & Noble. I haven't been back since. I live in a small town and rarely go to the cities nearby ... unless it's to eat. My son & I are planning another trip and I want to go to this used book store ... over 14,000 square ft!! I can hardly wait. LOL

message 23: by Anna (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anna (gohomeannakin) I bought mine from a used bookstore in Florida. It's a green leather hardcover with gilded pages and a ribbon for a bookmark.
I was super excited because it was one dollar. It has someone's name written in the corner of front cover too, which is always a plus for me.

message 24: by Nicolle (new) - added it

Nicolle 14,000 square ft! Leather hardcover with gilded pages and ribbon bookmark! I am in heaven!

message 25: by Martha (new)

Martha (marthas48) It's awesome, Nicolle! It's the Old Book Barn in Forsyth, IL (not really a barn) and definitely worth the trip if you are in the area. It's like a maze. We love it, but don't get there too often. I want to have a list of books I'm wanting before I go though.

message 26: by Nicolle (new) - added it

Nicolle Well, if I travel to America (which I want to in my life), I will make a detour to the Old Book Barn!

message 27: by Nicolle (new) - added it

Nicolle My copy of the book has arrived (slighly late!) so I shall read at some point in the near future.

message 28: by Martha (new)

Martha (marthas48) Hope you enjoy it!

Jimmy I read this a few years ago and really enjoyed it. Apprently there is an 'uncensored' edition that has been released this year, although it is said that the original is better. The 1945 movie is recommended.

Stephanie (stephanie-geerald) | 3 comments Heeeey, I'm reading this right now! :D

message 31: by Terri Lynn (new) - added it

Terri Lynn (terrilynnmerritts) | 22 comments I loved this and have loved it for years. Look around our society today where people are loved, revered, and adored based on their looks. The good-looking get hired, pursued by lovers, and are considered better than others based on their appearance. Even advertisements, movies, and television worship the good-looking. Now apply that to a young man Dorian Gray who becomes so enamored of his own looks by the older wealthy men and women in his social circle that he begins to believe it is worth anything to cling to that forever. Excellent story that could easily apply in our current cosmetic surgery enamored day.

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 614 comments Mod
I agree this story does have some timely themes for modern society, Terri!

message 33: by Nicolle (new) - added it

Nicolle Yes it does. I think this is more the 'norm' than it was back then aswell.

Verena | 11 comments I think 'beauty' and man's adoration for beauty (and women's for beautiful things)is as old as the concept itself. The only thing that changes is what is considered beautiful(generally accepted forms of beauty). 100 yrs ago I would have have been a sex bomb, today I am 'cute', or 'sweet'.
The results of excessive plastic surgery are sometimes more frightening than enhancing. Kind of like the picture of Dorian. ;)

Jimmy Verena wrote: "I think 'beauty' and man's adoration for beauty (and women's for beautiful things)is as old as the concept itself. The only thing that changes is what is considered beautiful(generally accepted for..."

Couldn't agree with you more, except that True Beauty is within...

Jonathan Terrington (thewritestuff) I started and finished this yesterday, thought I'd add a few comments. I really felt that no one truly cared about Dorian and to that extent I felt sorry for him. He was mislead by first Basil, who only cared about his looks (a rather selfish friendship) and then by Lord Henry who taught him to live life in a shallow vein. There was no mentor who spoke to him and told him the true moral way to live life and who helped protect his innocence I felt.

Carrie | 92 comments I loved this book! I did not feel sorry for Dorian, he was definitely old enough to make his own decisions and he constantly made very bad choices. Henry is a very despicable character also because he influences people to live only for pleasure without any thought to the consequences that may occur. This was the first Oscar Wilde book that I have ever read and I definitely intend to read another!

 Danielle The Book Huntress  (gatadelafuente) | 614 comments Mod
I think that Henry was a man who was good at talking but not saying anything of merit. If Dorian had more experience, maybe he would have known not to take what Henry said as gospel. However, I do agree that Dorian is accountable for his own actions. In that way, he was a complete failure morally because he refused to own up to his own shortcomings.

message 39: by Agata Weronika (new)

Agata Weronika (aqueda_veronica) I'm kind of ashamed to admit that I've never read the whole thing. Just some bits in pieces back in high school. Now that I finally got around filling this gap I can;t remember why I didn't take it on earlier on?
So witty and stylish, simply love it! I am officially a fan of Wilde from now on.

Jonathan Terrington (thewritestuff) If you're a Wilde fan then check out his work with The Importance of Being Earnest. A true classic. And then A Woman of No Importance.

message 41: by Agata Weronika (new)

Agata Weronika (aqueda_veronica) Thanks for the recommendation Jonathan. Will definitely check both of them out as soon as possible.

Jonathan Terrington (thewritestuff) They're prime examples of Wilde at his best in my opinion. I'm currently reading An Ideal Husband and that's pretty good too.

Lynette Sofras (manicscribbler) Jonathan wrote: "If you're a Wilde fan then check out his work with The Importance of Being Earnest. A true classic. And then A Woman of No Importance."

I second Jonathan, here. They are plays rather than novels, but very readable and both have been made into hilarious,enjoyable films.

Jonathan Terrington (thewritestuff) The best plays are always highly readable in my opinion and easily adapted to various mediums.

Maggie the Muskoka Library Mouse (mcurry1990) An okay read. I didn't have strong feelings about it either way.

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