Thursday, October 22, 2009

cemetery gates

"a dreaded sunny day
so let's go where we're happy
and i'll meet you at the cemetery gates
keats and yeats are on your side
while wilde is on mine" - the smiths ('cemetery gates' from the queen is dead)

i've just finished the picture of dorian gray, by the remarkable oscar wilde. it took me two weeks of dipping in and out of it, which is a very long time for me. it just felt like i couldn't read when i couldn't give the book my absolute full attention.

now that i'm thinking about it, i wonder if my two week dorian gray reading has something to do with the fact that i've barely listened to anything but the smiths? i'm sure morrissey is a wilde fan.

but back to dorian. narcissistic, vain, young and beautiful. basil, dorian's artist friend, is infatuated with the younger man, practically worships him for his innocent beauty. he paints a magnificent portrait of him, into which he instills all his love and admiration. the perfection of his painting frightens dorian - he wishes wildly that the painting would age rather than himself. basil's friend, the cad, lord harry, introduces dorian to the benefits of being young and beautiful; he lures dorian into an indulgent and hedonistic world. dorian's wish to remain young and beautiful causes his portrait to bear the brunt of dorian's wrong doing, his evil side.

but enough of the plot. it goes on, in its ugliness and terrifying twists and turns. there are many pages of reflection and monologues which explore the big questions of life and death and love. there's great social commentary and a dark and intriguing look at london's underbelly, circa 1890s. i loved it. and what an ending! it almost took my breath away and i spent a few minutes just looking at the book, sort of patting it with affection and appreciation.

i have always loved the idea of oscar wilde, have read an ideal husband and the importance of being earnest and thought that his personal story would make wonderful fiction - the scandal of his sexuality, his imprisonment, his years in paris and finally his death: "either that wallpaper goes, or i do."


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