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“I wish I could love”
“To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early or be respectable.” Oscar Wilde said it and we almost felt revenged.
And since you`ll beg to know why, picture the following:
You open a fashion magazine (say, Vogue’s thick September issue). In between the make-up/skincare/perfume/you-name-it adverts showing the immaculate faces of splendid creatures in no need of botox, your eyes fall upon a ten-page interview with the latest god of style-cum-dandy of the day: a certain Dorian Gray.
Had he lived nowadays and outside the confines of a print book’s pages, he would have graced the most fashionable covers with his beauty, while giving witty, melancholic interviews about pleasure, fun times, love-as-a-chimera and the decadent power of the New Überhedonism.
When asked “Beauty over truth?”, he would have sighed, cracked a whimsical smile and answered, looking away: “I wish I could love…”
Forty-five minutes (and as many side glances from his agent) later, he would have finally stated, nonchalantly yet slightly bored:
“I have never searched for happiness. Who wants happiness? I have searched for pleasure.”
A brief moment of silence on the glossy page and in your mind, then the reporter regains composure:
“And found it, Mr. Gray?”
“Often. Too often.”
Does the above sound too bitter or cynical to you? Than you must read the book and you`ll understand why we–and everybody else–love Dorian.
Now, witticisms aside and as shallow as we might picture Mr. Gray, we ought to give him credit. As a true artist of pleasure, whose art was his life, he is one of the best written and most intriguing literary characters, not to mention envied or downright adored. And, although “art has no influence upon action”, we urge you to try and poison your soul with this book–the effect will be a thorough cleansing of the mind and the pleasure of finding countless treasures on the page, for this is one book that reads with a pencil in hand. You will want to underline everything, remember it all and emulate its every single deed. Oh well, almost every single one.
In our world in which ugliness and old age have become both taboos and “the great Boos”, reading Dorian Gray remains an incredibly refreshing–and rewarding–experience.
Beauty over truth? Beauty over kindness? Is it better to be beautiful than to be good?
Here are as many questions for your own inner interview. Enjoy!
First published in 1890 in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine and the following year in novel form, The Picture of Dorian Gray categorically changed Victorian Britain and the landscape of literature. An ostentatious, self-confessed aesthete, known for his wit and intellect, Wilde not only had to endure his prose being labeled "poisonous" and "vulgar," but also suffer its use as evidence in the ensuing trial, resulting in his eventual imprisonment for crimes of "gross indecency." Frankel's introduction provides a deft preliminary analysis of the novel itself exploring etymology and extensive editorial alterations (both accidental and deliberate) and offers valuable insight into the socio-cultural juxtaposition of aristocratic Victorian society and the London underworld. The original typescript provides the unique opportunity to examine what was considered acceptable in both the US and UK at the time. Intriguing annotations allude to Wilde's influences and enterprising range of reference, incorporating art, poetry, literature, Greek mythology, philosophy, and fashion (certain to inspire further reading; an appendix is provided). Comparisons are drawn between Dorian Gray and Wilde's other literary output, as well as to the work of Walter Pater. Numerous illustrations subtly compliment Frankel s inferences. A fine contextualization of a major work of fiction profoundly interpreted, ultimately riveting.