The Picture of Dorian Gray – Book Review

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Happy Halloween!

What’s better than to post about something particularly Goth today?

Well folks, you’ll be happy to know that I have just finished reading The Picture of Dorian Grey and it made me reflect upon my own life and how fun deprived they are. #toomuchwork

TMI? Too sad? Oh, well… isn’t what the blogsphere’s all about? Sharing?

Anyways, I was always super intrigued by the story of Dorian Grey and his submission to narcissism. This story very well written by Oscar Wilde was criticized as scandalous and immoral, so much that Wilde revised the novel in 1891 and added a preface and six new chapters to soften the blow and better explain himself.

The Picture of Dorian Grey is Gothic, vulgar, hedonistic, dangerous and seductive, which makes it an absolute perfection of a novel. Dorian Grey is a dandy young man, endowed by impeccable beauty and charm and very much idolized by society, especially by his friend and portrait maker, Basil Hallward. While posing for his full-length portrait, Dorian meets Basil’s provocateur friend, Lord Henry Wotton, which flaunts his hedonistic world view and sweeps Dorian off his feet. Such decadence was compelling and Dorian was convinced that beauty and youth are the only aspects of his life worth pursuing. Dorian’s behavior derails as he explores the life of sensuality and sin, and what was once a naïve man gradually becomes a monstrosity. When he sees his own beauty reflecting through the portrait, Dorian, much like Narcissus, falls in love. He is besotted, so much that he wishes that the painting would age instead of him. His wish comes true and backfires on him when signs of deformation, cruelty and decay are starting to appear on the image.

So, what’s next for our Dorian?

As the plot moves forward the libertine slowly withers and withdraws from society, bewildered and distressed of what he sees on the image which is creepy as hell, and what does that teach us? That Grey so eager for freedom to act upon his deepest desires is ultimately trapped inside his own vile soul, and that, my friends’ what makes this a very appropriate tale for Halloween.

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I watched the 2009 remake of Dorian Gray starring Ben Barnes and Colin Firth a while ago. Unlike the mixed reviews it received, I remember the film quite fondly, but I’m biased, I love Colin Firth. The film did things quite differently than the novel adding actress Rebecca Hall as Lord Wotton’s daughter, Emily. Her character was not a part of the novel, which kind of surprised me as on the film she was Dorian’s love interest. On the novel, Dorian loved only the beautiful and talented Sybil Vane as she very much reminded him of himself, but this eventually went south just like everything else.

Dorian saw himself in Sybil Vane as Wilde sees himself in Dorian. The character of Dorian inhabits Wilde’s inner fantasies, unresolved emotional conflicts and repressed hidden desires. His Homosexual tendencies are discreetly expressed in the novel making it to provocative and scandalous for the Victorian era, which ultimately resulted in Wilde’s exile.

A leader and promoter of the Aesthetic movement Wilde supported the creating “art for the sake of art” rather than focusing on its moral aspects and the pleasure it may bring to the audience and that is why we experience so many expressions of self-indulgence and maliciousness in this infamous novel. Word on the street is that Wilde was especially influenced by Edgar Ellen Poe (who was an extremist) and Walter Pater who was an advocate of the Aesthetic movement and indirectly contributed literary gems to the novel.

All in all, The Picture of Dorian Grey is an inspiring and overwhelming read and I almost hate to part from it as I have to give it back. The 2009 film is really ok, purely entertaining, but I highly recommend (as always) to read the book first.

Have a spooktacular Halloween

mwahaha!

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Vincent

Vincent 1982, Tim Burton

this is a story about a young boy named Vincent. he tends to keep to himself and daydreams of becoming Vincent Price, a mad and tormented scientist. Vincent likes to experiment on his dog, Abercrombie. Vincent’s mother insists he would go outside and play, explaining to her son that he is just a little boy and not Vincent Price.
i’m a huge fan of Tim Burton. everything he touches simply turns into dark gold. my first and lifelong love is Beetlejuice. but that is another post. Mr. Price himself is one of my cinematic heroes. he is an idol and inspiration to Tim Burton, and is also narrating the film with his undertone murmuring voice. i love watching this short animation. Vincent’s delusions are taking over when he loses grasp of reality from time to time. quoting from Edgar Ellen Poe’s “The Raven”, he believes he shares that tortured soul with the dead poet. i love the opening and ending music theme, “The Streets of Cairo, or the Poor Little Country Maid”. the version playing in the film is sweet and melancholy. i feel for Vincent. i grew up carrying a highly imaginative mind of my own. surrounding myself with odd films and strange television characters. macabre daydreams are what made me want to do costume design in the first place. i never considered myself one of the ordinary. a happy kid, but slightly unusual. it brought me a lot in life and shaped the person i am today.

a little treat:

Edgar Allan Poe

The Raven

[First published in 1845]

horizontal space Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`’Tis some visitor,’ I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door –
Only this, and nothing more.’Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; – vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow – sorrow for the lost Lenore –
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore –
Nameless here for evermore.And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me – filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door –
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; –
This it is, and nothing more,’Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,’ said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you’ – here I opened wide the door; –
Darkness there, and nothing more.Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!’
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!’
Merely this and nothing more.Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,’ said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore –
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; –
‘Tis the wind and nothing more!’Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door –
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door –
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,’ I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore –
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning – little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door –
Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as `Nevermore.’

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered – not a feather then he fluttered –
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before –
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.’
Then the bird said, `Nevermore.’

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,’ said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore –
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of “Never-nevermore.”‘

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore –
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Nevermore.’

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Wretch,’ I cried, `thy God hath lent thee – by these angels he has sent thee
Respite – respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

`Prophet!’ said I, `thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil! –
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted –
On this home by horror haunted – tell me truly, I implore –
Is there – is there balm in Gilead? – tell me – tell me, I implore!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

`Prophet!’ said I, `thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us – by that God we both adore –
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore –
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels name Lenore?’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!’ I shrieked upstarting –
`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! – quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted – nevermore!