First Lines: The Picture of Dorian Gray

Now that (apart from a distorting soundcard) my new PC is up and running, I should really clear my backlog of things to write. So without further ado: Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, in which a picture ages, and a young man, inexplicably, does not.

You see, young Dorian was convinced by his friend Lord Henry that the only things worth pursuing in life are beauty and fulfilment of the senses. This makes him realize that he will grow old and his good looks will wither and die. He then wishes that this marvelous portrait that was just painted of him would age, and he would not. But as the great philosopher James Hetfield once declaimed, careful what you wish / you may regret it / careful what you wish / you just might get it. And he does get his wish: as young Dorian enters into a life of debauchery, his portrait bears the signs.

When I compiled my list of 40 books to read before my 40th birthday, lists of banned books were certainly an inspiration. The Picture of Dorian Gray is frequently banned and deemed unfit for decent folk because of it’s homosexual undertones, suggestiveness and overall imorallity. Which is, of course, poppycock:

As for being poisoned by a book, there is no such thing as that. Art has no influence upon action. It annihilates the desire to act. It is superbly sterile. The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame. That is all.

Oscar Wilde, β€œThe Picture of Dorian Gray.”

With this novel, I’m halfway through my list. Which means that I’m way ahead of my schedule. If I were to do a halfway evaluation, I’d say it’s been hit and miss. Some books were really, really awesome, and some, well, not so much.

Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray
First line
The studio was filled with the rich odour of roses, and when the light summer wind stirred amidst the trees of the garden, there came through the open door the heavy scent of the lilac, or the more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn.