Monday, October 14, 2013

31 days of Books: Picture of Dorian Gray

Today marks the half-way point of my 31 days project (I started 9/30) - yippee!  Thank you all for reading and commenting.  There's pretty much nothing that makes me happier than other people reading a book I love!  So, thank you all :)
Also, (more to come on this, but) this weekend I got to see a first edition copy of today's book - autographed by the author!  Oh my word!!

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Title:  The Picture of Dorian Gray

Author:  Oscar Wilde

Published:  1890

Year I read it:  2011

One sentence summary:  Corrupted Dorian Gray has a portrait that mutates and warps to show the state of his soul, while physically he gets to remain young, rich, and handsome.

Interesting fact:  Wilde's only novel.

Three reasons to read it:

  • The prologue [see below].  I don't agree with all these statements.  I don't even like all of these statements.  But I love that Wilde compiled these statements!  They move me to think about what art is and what power it has.
  • The story is a classic and I hear it alluded to all the time.  I was recently in a business meeting where one of the younger professionals scolded everyone else for not getting a reference from it.  I nodded in agreement.
  • The novel is intriguingly autobiographical.  Wilde himself later referred to this book when reflecting on his own life.  

One reason you maybe shouldn't:

  • Dorian Gray sleeps around, steals, murders and is in general a very corrupt, tragic figure.  Be forewarned.

Great quotes: [several of which I don't support... they're just Wilde being witty]

“Experience is merely the name men gave to their mistakes.”
“There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” 
“I am too fond of reading books to care to write them.”  
“Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” 
“Men marry because they are tired; women, because they are curious: both are disappointed.” 

The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim. The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things. 
The highest as the lowest form of criticism is a mode of autobiography. Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. 
Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only beauty. 
There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all. 
The nineteenth century dislike of realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass. 
The nineteenth century dislike of romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass.  
The moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium.  
No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved.  
No artist has ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style.  
No artist is ever morbid.  
The artist can express everything. Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art. Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art.  
From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of the musician. From the point of view of feeling, the actor's craft is the type.  
All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril. Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.  
It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.  
Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital. When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself.  
We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely. 
All art is quite useless.

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