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The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde: Ch. 1 - 5 
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Post The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde: Ch. 1 - 5
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde: Ch. 1 - 5



Sun Apr 12, 2009 9:28 am
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I've just finished Chapter 3 and am perplexed as to how two mature men can be so damn fascinated by Dorian Gray. It almost seems like there is an element of homosexual attraction going on here. Just because Dorian is youthful and attractive?

The Preface to this book didn't make sense to me or my wife. I read it out loud to her and she was just as lost to the meaning. Fortunately, Oscar Wilde's writing style seemed to change once he moved into the actual story.



Sun Apr 12, 2009 9:36 am
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Chris:

Quote:
It almost seems like there is an element of homosexual attraction going on here. Just because Dorian is youthful and attractive?


Yes, well that's very perceptive of you. Oscar Wilde was a homosexual when it was illegal to be so.

So, of necessity, he wrote about the situation in a covert manner.

As a completely heterosexual person, I also am very fascinated by beautiful people. Look at Tarav, Interbane......it is silly to admire people just because of their appearance.....I know that.....but I still like looking at them. ;-)


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Sun Apr 12, 2009 1:48 pm
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PS - I also like looking at little children, because they are beautiful.....and poor old Lewis Caroll was denigrated...because he took photographs of them, when photography was in its infancy.

Honi soit qui mal y pense????


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Sun Apr 12, 2009 1:53 pm
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Post Yes, I was
perplexed as well initially by the book. I mean, come on !! Dorian is so taken by anything Henry says, and Basil's art changes completely because of looking at Dorian - how superficial can people be! Of course, more homoerotic references show up near the end of the novel during Basil's final confrontation with Dorian, and the novel did grip my attention after the first little while.



Sun Apr 12, 2009 8:12 pm
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Hello folks,

I have actually finished reading "The Picture of Dorian Gray" just now. It is an amazing book that I have ever read which took me to the eerie realms at times. I would be glad to share my understanding and views about the each chapter. Though, several parts of the novel seemed vague and remote to my mind, :shock: I would try to express my interpretation chapter by chapter.

Any feedback and comments from the fellow members are welcome.:smile:

Thanks!



Sun Apr 26, 2009 2:20 am
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Initially, I would like to talk about the preface of the book which sounded like a paradox to me. Oscar Wilde begins saying that "The artist is the creator of beautiful things" and the further lines seems so confusing and it's quite difficult to judge the stance of Wilde. In the concluding line he says that "All art is quite useless". Does it imply his repulsion towards art? or Is he just trying to conform his lines to the ensuing novel?



Sun Apr 26, 2009 2:37 am
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Lotus:

I do agree with you. It is a very odd Preface and I wonder if it is just meant to provoke discussion, about what art is.

After all, all art is not beautiful. Art reflects life and sometimes life is ugly, so sometimes art is ugly too.

Wilde talks about the 19th Century dislike of Romanticism - but certainly some of the most romantic images are Victorian. In particular the pre-Raphaelite movement - very beautiful images, but ultra romantic. So I don't quite know to what he is referring here.

William Morris (the founder of the Arts and Crafts movement) is famous for saying that in ones home, everything should be either useful or beautiful. Because if a thing is not useful in a practical sense, then, if it is beautiful, it will lift ones spirits, not only useful then, but essential at times.

Quote:
We can forgive a man for making a useful thing, so long as he does not admire it.


What an absurd statement!! Some things are useful and also beautiful.

I am wondering if Wilde is here mocking the Arts and Crafts movement.


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Sun Apr 26, 2009 4:41 pm
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Post The Preface
Hello Lotus:

I think, to understand the preface of "Picture", is to understand Oscar Wilde, not an easy undertaking.

Quote:
It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.

from preface

Quote:
Those who find ugly meanings in the beautiful things are corrupt...this is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope.

from preface

I think when Wilde says, "the artist is the creator of beautiful things", and then ends with, "all art is useless", he is saying that it is not art that is beautiful, it is the interpratation of the art that is beautiful, In Wilde's words, "there is hope" hope for humanity to maybe see something beautiful and meaningful in themselves, and others when veiwing the creation of someone else. Oscar Wilde was not considered beautiful in the eyes of most critics of his time. This might have influenced his words of the preface.

The one question he does not pose in the preface; is there beauty in something that appears ugly? This, I think, is the question he goes on to answer throughout the book.

I look forward to discussing this book, I think it will affect people in different ways, should be interesting.

Suzanne



Sun Apr 26, 2009 5:21 pm
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Post The Preface
Hello Penelope:

Ah, but he then goes on to say
Quote:
The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.


This quote correlates with his words, "art is useless".

Beauty, is it useful, or useless? I think he may be talking more about the beauty, or lack there of in humanity, not so much art.

Quote:
All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.


Dorien created something useful, to him, and he admired it. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. I do have to say, however, I agree with you Penelope. Right now, I am admireing the beauty and usefullness of my reading lamp.

Suzanne



Sun Apr 26, 2009 5:48 pm
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Wilde's aesthetics

Wilde's aesthetics is, in part, a response to the major problem of his time, namely that subjectivity was being reexamined in light of the fall of Descartes' simple division between body and mind/soul. Since the self is normally associated with the mind/ego/soul and not the body, when it became apparent that “soul” was far more unstable and somehow deeply linked to the corporeal world, the question for society (and therefore for artists) was to answer what is the self. Wilde addressed the question by examining the distinctions between the writer, the artist and the art work. He did this in his essays of course but also in his novel The Picture of Dorian Grey.

Terms:
• The writer is the actual person, complex, indeterminate, always changing, multiplicitious entity who created the work of art.
• The artist is the projection of the writer. It is the writer's attempt to solidify the self in the body of the work of art and, consequently, in the body of the writer.
• The work of art is, for the life of the writer, tied to its creator. But, like the monster, freed to be itself at the death of its Frankenstein.

So art is about creating beauty because the writer is trying to recreate himself as a stable self, an idealized self that is not required to undergo constant change. Wilde wrote an essay (the one on the soul of man in socialism, I think) in which he postulated that there would be a future in which the personality would be as much of a work of art as any text or sculpture. It was only in his (an our) society which forced the separation between artist and writer because there were parts of the mulitplicitous self that were not socially acceptable. This forces the writer to lie and hence the artist is born in order to tell the truth.

Also, the preface was a response to the criticism of the first (1890) release of PoDG in Lippencott’s Magazine. That didn’t go so well. Wilde, stung, revised substantially, PoDG and the preface was written.


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Sun Apr 26, 2009 10:21 pm
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Mary Lupin said:

Quote:
Also, the preface was a response to the criticism of the first (1890) release of PoDG in Lippencott’s Magazine. That didn’t go so well. Wilde, stung, revised substantially, PoDG and the preface was written.


Thank you Mary, I didn't know this and yet I did detect something 'testy' and a bit combative in this preface. So it isn't a bona fide 'preface' is it? But a retort to a magazine critic.

I had been thinking about the pre-Raphaelites with William Morris and Burn-Jones - being very much 'in vogue' at the time, so I thought that Oscar was reacting disparagingly to their influence.


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Mon Apr 27, 2009 4:55 am
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Suzanne said:-

Quote:
Right now, I am admireing the beauty and usefullness of my reading lamp.


Well, Suz, judging from your Pre-Raphaelite Atavar, you will agree with the admirable William Morris - that beauty matters, and that it is good for our souls to be surrounded by it.

I am a great fan of William Morris, the man. I love his designs of wallpaper, his poetry and his politics and the founding of the 'arts and crafts' movement. I also like his face.

Image


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Mon Apr 27, 2009 5:06 am
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Post Chapters one and two
Thank you Penelope, it's a pleasure to meet William Morris. I read chapters one and two last night and picked out a quote for us girls;

Quote:
Women have no appreciation of good looks-at least, good women have not.

Oscar Wilde, page 15

I think this sets the tone, and I think it is very clear


[/quote]I believe the world would gain such fresh impulse of joy that we would forget all the maladies of mediaevalism, and return to the Hellenic ideal, to something finer, richer, than the Hellenic ideal, it may be.
Quote:
Page 20

The Hellenic ideal,

relating to the period in classical Greece, and implying a respect, civic responsibility, and other ideals, includinglove between men
Quote:
Footnote, page 20.

Did anybody notice how many references to flowers there were in chapters one and two? One flower, laburnum is poisonous. Ohhh, forebooding! Also, there were a lot of bees mentioned. Bees, and flowers. The flowers were eternally beautiful, unlike us mere humans, and bees are responsible for creating flowers. Bees, are the artists, and flowers, are their subjects. (There was a lot of daisy picking too!)

Why was Basil so distrought at the end of chapter two? Basil certainly did not want Henry around Dorian, Henry made Dorian think, not attractive!
I liked the way Basil said, "I will stay with the real Dorian", meaning the picture. Dorian divides.

Interesting, Basil and Henry have discusions on how thinking and knowledge ages a person, and creates "non beauty". I don't remember reading the word ugly. This is Wilde's only novel, he certainly is making a statement about his comtemperaries in 1890, and his contempt for them.
On to chapter three.

Suzanne





Mon Apr 27, 2009 6:36 am
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Post Grrrrrr
Drat, all my quotes are messed up, very unattactive! :cry:



Mon Apr 27, 2009 6:42 am
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