I had the great pleasure of introducing my wayward soul to ‘Picture of Dorian Gray’ by Oscar Wilde. This is not a book to be read. It is a book to be felt. It is a book for the senses. It is long winded poetry that is beautiful and tiresome, much the way beautiful young men are.
I am wretched at writing reviews, so I won’t. Instead, I wanted to list some of my favourite lines and of course show you my pick for Dorian Gray. I know they’ve made movie adaptations before, but this young gent would be my casting choice. He has all the beauty and wonder of new beginnings, and a look of sheer contempt for the future. Yes I think he would make a fine Dorian Gray.
“Experience is merely the name men gave to their mistakes.
“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.
“To define is to limit.”
“Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.”
“Never marry at all, Dorian. Men marry because they are tired, women, because they are curious: both are disappointed.”
“Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul.”
“Words! Mere words! How terrible they were! How clear, and vivid, and cruel! One could not escape from them. And yet what a subtle magic there was in them! They seemed to be able to give a plastic form to formless things, and to have a music of their own as sweet as that of viol or of lute. Mere words! Was there anything so real as words?”
“What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”
“Life is a question of nerves, and fibres, and slowly built-up cells in which thought hides itself and passion has its dreams. You may fancy yourself safe and think yourself strong. But a chance tone of colour in a room or a morning sky, a particular perfume that you had once loved and that brings subtle memories with it, a line from a forgotten poem that you had come across again, a cadence from a piece of music that you had ceased to play… I tell you, that it is on things like these that our lives depend. ”
“Man is many things, but he is not rational.”
“Poets are not so scrupulous as you are. They know how useful passion is for publication. Nowadays a broken heart will run to many editions.”
“I hate them for it,” cried Hallward. “An artist should create beautiful things, but should put nothing of his own life into them. We live in an age when men treat art as if it were meant to be a form of autobiography. We have lost the abstract sense of beauty. Some day I will show the world what is it; and for that the world shall never see my portrait of Dorian Gray.”