I recently bought "The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde after reading tons of Wilde's poems, I thought this would definitely be worth the read. At first, Oscar Wilde's clearly one of those people who has something intelligent to say about almost everything and in all honesty, he's wonderful at it and I've got tons of my favorite quotes off him written down everywhere. But there's something I'm noticing about this novel in particular, and that is Harry or Lord Henry, the smartass and the source of all bad (?) influences so far in the novel.
At first he's wise and you think "well wow, this guy's definitely worth re-reading to completely understand what he's talking about" and it's wonderful because he says more than enough. Then that exactly becomes the issue I have with him. He talks too goddamn much. It feels like Oscar's trying so hard to channel his "wiseness" into a character and thinks he doesn't have enough time therefore being obliged to stuff all his "genius" into paragraphs and paragraphs of dialogue that begin by contributing very intelligently and developing into "Oh god, stop, we get it. You are so damn marvelous; narcissism is literally oozing out of every crevice of your body."
Usually I'll add here a "Oh maybe I'm just exaggerating and really passionate about this" but woah-ho, I'm not going to, because I'm only on page 63 and he's giving me a headache. But I have such mixed feelings it's frustrating me. I want to write down and debate and disagree with everything he says but it's still so well phrased, memorable and most definitely worth noting down. So, question to self, do I want him to shut up or do I want the opportunity to stop him every once in a while and unlike Dorian (the main fascination of every damn character) not be overwhelmed and impressed after every statement and more like Basil (the other guy) tell him he's wrong because ah…sometimes he's so wrong that I put down the book and internally screech then roll into a ball of frustration and irritation.
One of the things that irritated me was when Dorian says that a woman he's interested in is genius and he responds with, "My dear boy, no woman is a genius. Women are a decorative sex. They never have anything to say but they say it charmingly"
First, I have an issue with condescending starters like "My dear boy". No. Stop.
And second, I hope Oscar intended for this character to be a total douchebag and that he himself isn't one. I'm bordering on uncertainty of wether Oscar's narcissism has taken over 110% of his being or if it's just a façade to make him appear controversial and fascinating and oh-so-notorious.
But despite his douchebaggery ways, somethings Basil says when he describes Dorian really resonate with me and I feel like I see a lot of myself in the Basil we meet at the start (I say that because I haven't read enough to see if his character changes as the book progresses). My favorites would be:
"When I like people immensely I never tell their names to anyone. It is like surrendering a part of them. I have grown to love secrecy. It seems to be the one thing that can make modern life mysterious or marvelous to us. The commonest thing is delightful if one only hides it."
"Dorian Gray is to me simply a motive in art. You might see nothing in him, I see everything in him."
"Of course I flatter him dreadfully. I find a strange pleasure in saying things to him that I know I shall be sorry for having said. As a rule, he is charming to me, and we sit in the studio and talk of a thousand things. Then I feel that I have given away my whole soul to someone who treats it as if it were a flower to put in his coat, a bit of decoration to charm his vanity."
I wish I could go in depth with this but it feels too personal to type up when I can't even think it through properly yet because it's confusing and far too coincidental with the book and the characters…It also brings a slight curiosity with a pinch of fear to my thoughts when it comes to the way Basil sees Dorian and the way Dorian actually is. And I think, is it ever possible for someone to accurately match your thoughts of them no matter how romanticized they are? I mean is there a possibility that someone actually possesses that charm that is actually there? Or is this just dependent on the person's feelings about that person? Are people ever fascinating or is it just the way we see them that glorifies them too much.
Ah too many of the same speculations rewritten in different ways, I'm sorry if I repeated myself but that paragraph was just mind vomit.
I will definitely write more about this but I don't quite have the time and the mental clarity to continue right now. I'm caught between hoping I'm not the only one who sees it this way and hoping it's also a very personal and private angle of looking at it. The one thing I'm sure of right now is I hope the lovely coincidences I have to this book are the only ones present and not the disappointments because ah.
How horrible is to romanticize someone only to realize they're nothing of what you marvel over… or at least not enough of it.
Ah I'm confusing myself now. Well oops.