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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Book Club: The Picture of Dorian Gray


*picture by Hanna & Hedvig
I really enjoyed The Picture of Dorian Gray. I found the descriptive language lively and the novel is an interesting portrait of Victorian life; it's always fascinating to read about different periods in time and improve our understanding of the past. The premise is simple, almost classic: a young man sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty. It definitely provokes thoughts on morality, art, and human desire.
Here are a few discussion questions if you're interested in contributing your thoughts to book club. Feel free to offer your own insights, pose your own questions, or share why you liked/disliked the novel.
-Wilde writes that "there is no such thing as a moral or immoral book." In other words, art has no effect, other than aesthetic, on individuals or society. Do you agree with Wilde's premise?
-What does Dorian's portrait represent? Why does he hide it in the attic?
-Dorian's scandalous behavior shocks his peers, yet he remains welcome in social circles? Why? What is Wilde suggesting about "polite" London society?
-What is the importance of sin and redemption in the novel? Is there any redemption for Dorian?
*The next book for book club is This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

3 comments:

Shauna said...

"The Picture of Dorian Gray" is one of those books that I can read multiple times and still find different meanings/interpretations each reading. I love the dialogues and debates between the characters

I personally wouldn't interpret what Wilde is saying as a premise that art has no effect on individuals or society, but rather that it is the person's interpretation and not the work itself that effects how it is viewed. The work itself, regardless of intention, will mean something different to each individual. I suppose an obvious example of this would be the Bible and how different religious groups use it in very different ways (For example Westboro Baptist Church vs. someone like Mother Teresa). In short a work simply reflects the beliefs someone already holds.

Of course I also wouldn't agree with him that there is no such thing as a moral or immoral book, or that art has no effect. Art and literature have proved throughout history to be catalysts for dramatic changes. And artists/writers, etc are often taking very deliberate stances on issues within society. I would also say that those works that do try to change or question current values are often those that are remembered.

Flash Jordan said...

I just love The Picture of Dorian Gray. Currently I'm reading it a second time, after I read it several years ago.
The lively language is definitely the thing I love the most. I also can't agree with the interpretation that art has no effect on either individuals or society. My interpretation on the sentance "there is no such thing as a moral or immoral book" is that everyone need to decide this for oneself and that it's not important what society thinks about it.

I also recommend Wildes fairy tales, if you haven't read them already. They are very sweet and educating.

amanda said...

I am excited to read your thoughts on This Side of Paradise! I adore Fitzgerald and have been re-reading the Flappers and Philosophers stories recently. If you enjoy Paradise, you should check out Bernice Bobs Her Hair (its a quick 8 pages or so?). I posted about it a few days back, http://goo.gl/5jmOY. I am new to blogging but have been reading yours for a while. great work!

amanda
http://thingstoholdandstir.blogspot.com/

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