The Picture of Dorian Gray

I know a song written by Andrew Peterson about his awe of the canyons and mountains during a drive out west.  It’s called “Nothing To Say”.  I found this same idea – only directed toward art – in Oscar Wilde’s bizarre little novel The Picture of Dorian Gray.  As a scary story, it ranks right up there with Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King.  In theme and tone, it reminded me of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  

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I would be lying if said I knew exactly what Wilde was getting at in this novel.  I’m not sure if any of the main characters express Wilde’s point of view; however, I couldn’t help notice how much talking Lord Henry, Dorian Gray’s friend, did about art or about marriage or about life or death or about anything.  He had opinions about everything and most of them came in the form of little epigrams that usually left me scratching my head.  Every once in a while, he might have a point.  My guess would be that Wilde used Lord Henry as a satirical device – perhaps the opposite of how Wilde thought, himself.

For me, there is an aspect to great art, whether music, painting, novels or short stories, that is not easily defined.  Sometimes words just don’t cut it.  Maybe Wilde preferred no words to describe art as opposed to pithy and pompous little cliche’s.  Maybe Wilde felt art didn’t need to be described or defined, it could just “be”.

He knew that the senses, no less than the soul, have their spiritual mysteries to reveal.

That he would put this idea into what amounts to a horror story is even more fascinating. Sometimes things that are difficult to define come across as scary.

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4 responses to “The Picture of Dorian Gray

  1. Hi Dale,
    tPODG has long been one of my favorites, ever since I saw the 1945 movie adaptation more than twenty years ago. Lord Henry “doesn’t shut up” in the movie either. I think Wilde’s style is better suited to plays and stories, but his novel remains a favorite.
    -Jay

    • Jay, I am sure that there are interpretations that go deeper than simply what Wilde thought about art. There seems to be all kinds of ideas about the human soul and morality. It’s just Lord Henry’s continuous yammering is what struck me the most.
      -Dale

  2. Hi Dale, One of my favorites too, and even better with a reread. Interesting that the tone reminded you of Shelley’s Frankenstein. I hadn’t thought of that, but I can see it. Certainly unhealthy…as in WAY OVER THE TOP UNHEALTHY obsessions. My thoughts: http://tinyurl.com/yddrzl5e

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