Round Rock New Neighbors is a social organization of women welcoming women in the Round Rock area since 1978. Both "new" and "old" neighbors are welcome. For more information: rrnewneighbors.org [Barnes & Noble requires that RRNN's book club be open to the public, so you do not need to be an RRNN member to attend book club, and both men and women are welcome and do attend. ]
The Friends of the Georgetown Public Library’s Hill Country Authors Series events will be listed here.
Round Rock Public Library Book Group meets monthly at 7:00-8:30 PM. Check the library website for more information, or ask Carla.
Saturday, June 29, 2013
The Picture of Dorian Gray Creates a Lasting Impression
As Frank mentioned at our meeting, there is, in the vernacular, a precedent for calling someone who doesn't show signs of aging a "Dorian Gray." After our discussion of The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde, I would guess that calling someone a "Dorian Gray" soon after the book was published in 1890 and in the early part of the 20th century more often occurred behind the person's back than to their face and maybe carried with it a tinge of jealousy. Nowadays, though I have never heard the term, I would guess that it might be used, again more likely behind someone's back than to their face, to refer to someone who has undergone plastic surgery to hide signs of aging; again in a spirit of criticism and ill will. Nothing about Dorian Gray seems likely to be far from the dark side of life.
While reading the novel (my second time and also the second time for others in our group), I was tempted to read about Oscar Wilde's life, but I decided to leave it to Patty to give us his history. Patty's rendition was not disappointing! Wilde did, indeed, lead a life of hidden (and open) homosexuality (somehow the term "gay" just doesn't fit in a discussion of Oscar Wilde), flamboyance, debauchery, imprisonment, and exile. Wilde had some literary success with his plays, but his Picture of Dorian Gray received much criticism and doesn't seem to have been appreciated until after his death.
Pam found a copy of the original unedited version of Dorian Gray at the Round Rock Public Library. She shared some of the editing with us. In my humble opinion, the original writing was hardly inflammatory, with any homosexual insinuations couched in such terminology as to be not much more obvious than in the edited version. The implications were obvious in the characters and the story line in both versions but remained mostly implications in the language used.
As always, our group had some interesting insights: When discussing Lord Henry's philosophical pontification, Janice said he seemed to express Wilde's outlook on life. It seemed that each of the main characters expressed aspects of Wilde, who was a many-faceted person. Dennis saw Picture of Dorian Gray as an early example of science fiction. Surely, the transference of Gray's aging and evil ways to the physical painting was a touch of sci-fi! Frank likened the story to Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson, which was published in 1886, four years before the original version of Dorian Gray, and so might have been an influence. Marla described a theme wherein the painting showing how people see you, Lord Henry representing how you see things, and Dorian being about how you want to be seen. This seems almost a universal theme, but, of course, not applicable to anyone who was at our meeting!
More than 20 of us attended the discussion. I was disappointed that I forgot to ask, "How many 'liked' the book?" I always find that interesting. I don't know whether everyone liked the book, hated it, or just wanted some light shed on it. Thanks to Patty for a bright and shining presentation! On the subject of light, Netflix lists 7 films that are direct or indirect renditions of the book.