#2: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Quick Summary: Basil Hallward is an artist who has recently become enamoured with the young Dorian Gray. At the beginning of the novel, he paints a portrait of Dorian, a portrait that Basil says is his greatest work. Enter Lord Henry. Lord Henry is incredibly self-indulgent. He quickly plants a seed in Dorian’s mind that beauty is the only important thing in life. Dorian, whose entire life from this point forward is heavily influenced by Lord Henry’s hedonistic views, states that he wishes that the painting would grow old and that he could be the one to stay young and beautiful forever. Through a sequence of events that I will not spoil, he finds that his wish has come true. Dorian then continues to lead a life without morals, while the painting is forced to bear the burden of Dorian’s transgressions.

Before this novel and my research after, I was unaware of the Aesthetic Movement. Supported by Oscar Wilde, this movement was all about ‘Art for Art’s sake.’ As my good friend Wikipedia puts it, “This meant that Art from this particular movement focused more on being beautiful rather than having a deeper meaning.” I’m surprised that someone in support of this movement would write a novel that, to me, argues against Aestheticism. Dorian practically goes mad by the end of the novel because of his obsession with beauty and in my eyes Wilde does not portray Lord Henry (the Aesthetic preacher) as a likeable character. But I suppose he is just not likeable because his views are so opposite to my own.

I don’t have much more to say about this right now, but if you’ve read it I would love to discuss with you! Like I said at the beginning of this challenge, I’m writing these posts more as a reminder to future Kathleen, so I don’t plan to go to in-depth with each book.

I had highlighted a number of quotes in the Kindle ebook, but then over halfway through they got deleted when I had to reregister the Kindle. Oops. There’s still the ‘popular quotes’ that you can see from other Kindle users, and some from the last few chapters of the book…

“Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

“There is a luxury in self-reproach. When we blame ourselves, we feel that no one else has a right to blame us. It is the confession, not the priest, that gives us absolution.”

“”You will never marry again, Lady Narborough,” broke in Lord Henry. “You were far too happy. When a woman marries again, it is because she detested her first husband. When a man marries again, it is because he adored his first wife. Women try their luck; men risk theirs.””

And one of my personal favorite Lord Henry quotes,

“To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable.”

Next up, Beloved by Toni Morrison!

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