SugarHouse Mama

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

So we just had book group. This month we read The Picture of Dorian Gray. Another Halloween book. I'm pretty sure I read this in one of my college classes, but I just couldn't be sure. Either that or I've heard all about it in detail.... I usually remember what I've read though.

I suppose a very real answer to the mystery would be if I was supposed to read it for a college class, but didn't. That would actually explain A LOT.

Anyway, I found this pic of the original Dorian Gray publication in Lippincott's magazine. Fun, huh?

Ok, on to the book. It was really fun discussing this in book group. We talked a little about the book, but the main focus of the conversation quickly became The Aesthetic. We talked about Wilde's ideology that the truest, best art happens when the creator/artist completely removes himself from the work. We spoke about whether or not art reflects the artist or the viewer. It was really interesting and really fun. {Ok. That statement right there proves I'm nerdy. I know I've been hiding it from you, but in case you hadn't discovered it yet, there it is. Unequivocal proof} Of course {with literature especially} it is nearly impossible to think that the author can write and completely remove himself from the work. But I guess that's the ideal, and everyone fits somewhere on the line.

I love Wilde's statement that there is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. There is only good writing and bad writing.

I wish more people would judge what they read on whether or not it was well written. {But I guess you have to read it in order to determine if it's well written.....} At the very least, base recommendation of a book, and how you judge it's merits, on how it was written. I'm not saying that's all that is important, but it certainly should be weighed more heavily than it apparently is in today's literary world.

Anyway, we spoke about how the book is extremely moral in nature, even though it deals with immoral characters; we debated who was the most evil character; and we talked about how one sells one's soul. Is it sold in a single moment? Typically not. Rather, it seems souls are sold off little bit by little bit in the daily choices we make.

Nearly every day comes with at least one choice in which your soul is up for barter. Sadly, all too often, it's a teenie-tiny bit of soul - so small that most people don't notice. And then, one day, there isn't much soul left....

Man. That is why I love reading good books. It's so fun to discover those lessons. And I would argue, it adds to the fun when you can discuss them and uncover them further with other people. That's how I ended up with a Major and some grad work in British Literature. I was having fun and the university said "Here you go. It's a degree. Thanks for coming and playing."

Anyway, The Picture of Dorian Gray is a fun book - not for everyone - but fun none the less. Just remember that it's truly is quite moral in the end.

Oh, and if that weren't enough to prompt you to read it, Colin Firth and 'Prince Caspian' {the really super good-looking one from the recent Narnia movie} are in a movie version, Dorian Gray that is slated for release in November 2009. Of course, so far, it's coming out in the UK. We'll cross our fingers that it is released in the US too....


Jen said...

I loved looking at your blog and reading what you wrote about our book group discussion. I thought it was a great night! Also, your wedding pics are beautiful and Sarah is beautiful! I can't wait to hear an update -- I'm praying all goes well!

Samuel (and Parents) said...

This is one of my favorite books!!! I am so excited they are doing a movie of it (well a modern one). And with Colin Firth! Fabulous!