As mentioned a few days ago, I’d be commenting/reviewing this Gothic classic here at The Darkest Soirée. I’m sharing my opinion about quotes and things I find interesting or peculiar with the book.
~ Preface ~
It seems to me that this is not a preface for the story itself, but Wilde’s rumblings on the subjects of artist and his art, those who appreciate art, translation of beauty and art by the “sitter or viewer”. He connects these with the concept of beauty and the use of beauty and art in the world, aka society.
“All art is surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril. Those who read the symbol do so at their peril. It is the spectator and not life, that art really mirrors.”
“…The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely. All art is quite useless.”
And with that last quote, he ends the preface.
As an artist myself, I find quite fascinating his thoughts on these subjects. Specially the last bit, that art is a useless thing. In a sense, that’s pretty much true. It doesn’t have any practical use, not like a cooker, not like a fridge or a car. Maybe, the only use of real art is for us to admire it – like he said? Art is an expression of the soul – my finding through the journey so far. But it is also “food” for the soul, for we humans need embellishments and art in its various forms in order to keep our sanity throughout life. Or else… Why do we read books, listen to music, look at images and so on?
~ Chapter 1 ~
The book opens with a conversation between Basil Hallward, the artist who painted Dorian Gray, and Lord Henry. The dialogue is pertinent to two individuals of high society, that not only sound like two very distinctive personalities on their views of life, likes and dislikes, but also, good (snob and vain) friends.
It is interesting how Wilde call our olfactory, touch and auditory senses as he narrates smells, textures and sounds in the environment, enriching our reading experience. I feel allergic just to think of the smell of those flowers ad wind on the leaves… o.O
Lord Henry antagonises Basil, he insists the artist should send The Portrait to exhibition, as this is his best work. Basil stands his ground: he won’t send it anywhere. And that disagreement brings about the real story behind the portrait. At the end of the chapter, Basil finally opens up to tell his friend the “why” and introduce him to Dorian, the young Adonis.
“Intellect is in itself a mode of exaggeration, and destroys the harmony of any face. The moment one sits down and to think, one becomes all nose, or all forehead, or something horrid.” Lord Henry
“You are an extraordinary fellow. You never say a moral thing, and you never do a wrong thing. Your cynicism is simply a pose.” Basil Hallward
“I can believe anything, provided that it is quite incredible.” Lord Henry
And that’s all for today!