Friday, February 22, 2013

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Oscar! Oscar! (Academy Awards Week)

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde is a classic about the timeless quest for youth and beauty. The desire to find a fountain of youth rings as true today as it did in 1890 when the story was first published. Dorian Gray is a young and dashingly handsome man. When he looks at a portrait that was painted of him it stirs up the regrettable fact that he’s at the top of his game now and will never look better.  He’s irritated that the portrait will continue to look the same and in a sense mock him as he ages in real life. What’s a man to do?  There was no such thing as plastic surgery back then, and Botox was unheard of. Dorian laments: “Oh, if it were only the other way! If the picture could change, and I could be always what I am now!” Boom. He gets his wish. That brings us to the old adage, be careful what you wish for. While he stayed crispy, fresh, and pure, his painting bore the devastatingly hideous marks of age and sin. Oh sure, being young and beautiful is wonderful—at first.  Many, many years later, it can get tiresome, at least for Dorian. Dorian doesn’t know what to do with all that time.  He studies many things and that part of the book got a tad tiresome for me.  But stick with it, things get better and a lot more interesting. He comes to hate the painting that bears the likeness of his true soul, and this does not make for a happy life. It haunts him and drives him on to self destruction. I truly enjoyed this story, and thought it was definitely worth reading. It’s a classic for a reason.

The book was made into a movie in 1945 starring Hurd Hatfield as Dorian Gray.  I’ve never seen the movie, and I’ve never heard of Hurd.  But I have heard of Angela Lansbury who played Sibyl Vane, Dorian’s love interest. She was up for best supporting actress in the 18th Academy Awards. Angela lost to Anne Revere in National Velvet, but Dorian Gray wasn’t left out in the cold.  The Picture of Dorian Gray did win for best black and white cinematography.  

Get ready for the 85th Academy Awards this Sunday, February 24, 2013 at 7:00pm Eastern time, 4:00pm Pacific time on ABC! 

Happy reading!


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