Dorian Gray: How does Dorian stack up against Wilde's other work?

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Dorian Gray: How does Dorian stack up against Wilde's other work?

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feb 10, 2014, 12:01 pm

There was some discussion on the First Impressions thread about how The Picture of Dorian Gray stands up to the author's other work. Wilde was more prolific as a poet and playwright. Why did he stop at one novel? How do his plays/poetry compare to Dorian Gray?

feb 12, 2014, 7:29 pm

The only other thing I've read by Wilde is The Importance of Being Earnest which I loved for its witty dialogue, silly characters and farcical plot. Reading DG now, I think it would be much improved if all the descriptive stuff was removed and only the dialogue remained.

feb 17, 2014, 5:48 pm

Wilde was a great conversationalist with an ear for dialogue and riposte. I think that's why his plays are still very funny.

I remember reading his fairy tales when I was about 10 (a time when I knew nothing about Wilde) and sobbing through them. I still think they're quite beautiful because they tap into the deep pathos of characters who are marginalized or misunderstood (and Wilde himself would know about that). There seems to be great understanding and kindness in those stories. Some are even overtly religious ("The Selfish Giant" and "The Happy Prince") and express the desire for redemption and resurrection.

"Dorian Gray" has always struck me as a paradox. It's grouped with decadent literature and it deals with decadent characters ... and yet the story seems ultimately to condemn the decadent view of life that Dorian and Lord Henry pursue.

Here's an interesting paper that sheds some light on that paradox.

Oscar was always a better man than he wanted anyone to know.

feb 17, 2014, 7:56 pm

I had forgotten Wilde's fairy tales. I read them at that age too and they broke my heart.

Interesting observations on the paradox of Dorian Gray (and of Wilde himself).

feb 19, 2014, 12:13 am

I think similar to The Importance of Being Earnest that The Picture of Dorian Gray is also witty. However, it is a much darker subject matter. And I agree that it condemns decadence.