THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY – OSCAR WILDE

1. Every portrait that is pained with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not the sitter. (p.11)

2. There is no doubt that Genius lasts longer than Beauty. (p.19)

3. In the wild struggle for existence, we want to have something that endures, and so we fill our minds with rubbish and facts, in the silly hope of keeping our place. The thoroughly well-informed man – that is the modern ideal. And the mind of the thoroughly well-informed man is a dreadful thing. It is like a bric-a-brac shop, all monsters and dust, with everything priced above its proper value. (p.19)

4. Words! Mere words! How terrible they were! How clear, and vivid and cruel! One could not escape from them. And yet what a subtle magic there was in them! They seemed to be able to give a plastic form to formless things, and to have a music of their own as sweet as that viola or of a lute. Mere words! Was there anything so real as words? (p.27)

5. ‘Because you have the most marvellous youth, and youth is the one thing worth having.’

‘I don’t feel that, Lord Henry.’

‘No, you don’t feel it now. Some day, when you are old and wrinkled and ugly, when thought has seared your forehead with its lines, and passion branded your lips with its hideous fires, you will feel it, you will feel it terribly.’ (p.29)

6. ‘Our limbs fail, our senses rot. We degenerate into hideous puppets, haunted by the memory of the passions of which we were too much afriad, and the exquisite temptations that we had not the courage to yield to. Youth! Youth! There is absolutely nothing in the world but youth!’ (p.31)

7. ‘I adore simple pleasures,’ said Lord Henry. ‘They are the last refuge of the complex. But I don’t like scenes, except on the stage. What absurd fellows you are, both of you! I wonder who it was defined man as a rational animal. It was the most premature definition ever given. Man is many things, but he is not rational. I am glad he is not, after all (…)’ (p.36)

8. ‘Young men want to be faithful, and are not; old men want to be faithless, and cannot: that is all one can say.’ (p.38)

9. Only England could have produced him, and he always said that the country was going to the dogs. His principles were out of date, but there was a good deal to be said for his prejudices. (p.41)

10. ‘ My dear boy, the people who love only once in their lives are really the shallow people. What they call their loyalty, and their fidelity, I call either the lethargy of custom or their lack of imagination. Faithfulness is to the emotional life what consistency is to the life of the intellect – simply a confession of failures. Faithfulness! I must analyse it some day. The passion for property is in it. There are many things that we would throw away if we were not afraid that others might pick them up.’ (p.60)

11. ‘I have seen her die in the gloom of an Italian tomb, sucking the poison from her lover’s lips. I have watched her wandering through the forest of Arden, disguised as a pretty boy in hose and doublet and dainty cap. She has been mad, and has come into the presence of a guilty king, and given him rue to wear and bitter herbs to taste of. She has been innocent, and the black hands of jealousy have crushed her reedlike throat. I have seen her in every age and in every costume. Ordinary women never appeal to one’s imagination. They are limited to their century. No glamour ever transfigures them. One knows their minds as easily as one knows their bonnets. One can always find them. There is no mystery in any of them. They ride in the park in the morning and chatter at tea-parties in the afternoon. They have their stereotyped smile and their fashionable manner. They are quite obvious. But an actress!’ (p.62)

12. ‘The only artists I have ever known who are personally delightful are bad artists. Good artists exist simply in what they make, and consequently are perfectly uninteresting in what they are. A great poet, a really great poet, is the most unpoetical of all creatures. But inferior poets are absolutely fascinating. The worse their rhymes are, the more picturesque they look. The mere fact of having published a book of second-rate sonnets makes a man quite irresistible. He lives the poetry that he cannot write. The others write the poetry that they dare not realize.’ (p.68)

13. But there was no motive power in experience. It was as little of an active cause as conscience itself. All that it really demonstrated was that our future would be the same as our past, and that the sin we had done once, and with loathing, we would do many times, and with joy. (p.70)

14. Her trust makes me faithful, her belief makes me good. (p.91)

15. Women, as some witty Frenchman once put it, inspire us with the desire to do masterpieces, and always prevent us from carrying them out. (p.93)

16. He escorted them to their box with a sort of pompous humility, (…) (p.95)

17. I knew nothing but shadows, and I thought them real. (p.101)

18. There is always something ridiculous about the emotions of people whom one has ceased to love. (p.103)

19. Why had such a soul been given to him? (p.106)

20. Besides, women were better suited to bear sorrow than men. They lived on their emotions. They only thought of their emotions. When they took lovers, it was merely to have someone with whom they could have scenes. (p.107)

21. One should absorb the colour of life, but one should never remember its details. (p.118)

22. ‘What has the actual lapse of time got to do with it? It is only shallow people who require years to get rid of an emotion. A man who is master of himself can end a sorrow as easily as he can invent a pleasure. I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.’ (p.126)

23. In black fantastic shapes, dumb shadows crawl into the corners of the room, and crouch there. (p.151)

24. ‘(…) And what sort of lives do these people, who pose as being moral, lead themselves? My dear fellow, you forget that we are in the native land of the hypocrite.’ (p.173)

25. But youth smiles without any reason. (p.186)

26. (…) his hostess’s daughter, a dowdy dull girl, with one of those characteristic British faces that, once seen, are never remembered; and her husband, a red-cheeked, white-whiskered creature who, like so many of his class, was under the impression that inordinate joviality can atone for
an entire lack of ideas. (p.203)

27. ‘You were far too happy. When a woman marries again it is because she detested her first husband. When a man marries again, it is because he adored his first wife. Women try their luck; men risk theirs.’ (p.205)

28. ‘A man can be happy with any woman as long as he does not love her.’ (p.206)

29. ‘I like men who have a future, and women who have a past,’ he answered. ‘Or do you think that would make it a petticoat party?’ (p.206)

30. The moon hung low in the sky like a yellow skull. From time to time a huge misshapen cloud stretched a long arm across and hid it. The gas-lamps grew fewer, and the streets more narrow and gloomy. Once the man lost his way and had to drive back half a mile. A steam rose from the horse as it splashed up the puddles. The sidewindows of the hansom were clogged with a grey-flannel mist. (p.212)

31. Ugliness that had once been hateful to him because it made things real, became dear to him now for that very reason. Ugliness was the one reality. The coarse brawl, the loathsome den, the crude violence of disordered life, the very vileness of thief and outcast, were more vivid, in their intense actuality of impression, than all the gracious shapes of art, the dreamy shadows of song. They were what he needed for forgetfulness. In three days he would be free. (p.214)

32. The slimy pavement looked like a wet mackintosh. (p.214)

33. Dorian winced and looked round at the grotesque things that lay in such fantastic postures on the ragged mattresses. The twisted limbs, the gaping mouths, the staring lustreless eyes, fascinated him. He knew in what strange heavens they were suffering, and what dull hells were teaching them the secret of some new joy. They were better off than he was. He was prisoned in thought. Memory, like a horrible malady, was eating his soul away. (p.216)

34. Actual life was chaos, but there was something terribly logical in the imagination. (p.229)

35. ‘I am too much concentrated on myself. My own personality has become a burden to me.’ (p.234)

36. ‘Civilisation is not by any means an easy thing to attain to. There are only two ways by which a man can reach it. One is by being cultured, the other by being corrupt. Country people have no opportunity of being either, so they stagnate.’ (p.240)

37. ‘Death and vulgarity are the only two facts in the nineteeth century that one cannot explain away.’ (p.243)

38. ‘One should never do anything that one cannot talk about after dinner.’ (p.244)

39. ‘If a man treats life artistically, his brain is in his heart.’ (p.245)

40. ‘Youth! There is nothing like it. It’s absurd to talk of the ignorance of youth. The only people to whose opinions I listen now with any respect
are people much younger than myself. They seem in front of me. Life has revealed to them her latest wonder. As for the aged, I always contradict the aged. I do it on principle. If you ask them their opinion on something that happened yesterday, they solemnly give you the opinions current in 1820, when people wore high stocks, believed in everything, and knew absolutely nothing.’ (p.246)

41. ‘The tragedy of old age is not that one is old, but that one is young.’ (p.246)

42. ‘Besides, Dorian, don’t deceive yourself. Life is not governed by will or intention. Life is a question of nerves, and fibres, and slowly built-up
cells in which thought hides itself and passion has its dreams. You may fancy yourself safe and think yourself strong. But a chance tone of colour in a room or a morning sky, a particular perfume that you had once loved and that brings subtle memories with it, a line from a forgotten poem that you had come across again, a cadence from a piece of music that you had ceased to play – I tell you, Dorian, that it is on things like these that our lives depend.’ (p.248)

43. ‘The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.’ (p.250)

44. All his failure had been due to that. Better for him that each sin of his life had brought its sure swift penalty along with it. There was purification in punishment. Not ‘Forgive us our sins’ but ‘Smite us for our iniquities’ should be the prayer of man to a most just God. (p.252)

45. His beauty has been to him but a mask, his youth but a mockery. What was youth at best? A green, an unripe time, a time of shallow moods and sickly thoughts. Why had he worn its livery? Youth had spoiled him. (p.252)

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