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17 August 2008 @ 10:30 am
Dorian Gray, discussion one: ch. 1-6  
Esteemed members of Sparticus Ni, I would like to welcome you back to our first official-like discussion post for a while now. I hope everyone is enjoying their last days of summer as much as I have been and I hope you all made good on our hiatus and read some good books! If there was anything in particular be sure to tell us!

So now let's get on to our
I've really enjoyed this book so far I know I have a lot to say but what about you?

1. Okay, by now we are all aware that The Picture of Dorian Gray is being turned into a movie with our very own Ben Barns (and in a small part Max Irons, squee!) so when I started to read I could not help but creating my own cast. So far, who would you cast as who and why?

2. Oscar Wilde is primarily a playwrite and a poet as well, he gave us such works as The Importance of Being Earnest and Lady Windimere's Fan, how do you think this affects his ability as a novelist whethere good, bad or not at all?

3. What did you think of Dorian when you finally got to meet him after hearing such things about him from Basil for a whole chapter and what did you think of Sybil after hearing about her from Dorian? Why do you think Wilde did this, how do you think it affect our opinion of his characters?

4. I think it's safe to say that we all know this book is going to start getting rather gloomy, but looking at him now do you think Dorian has any redeaming qualities that could save him if he just holds on to them or is he just too moldable?

5. The back of my edition has some notes on the chapters: The name "Dorian" itself recalls one of the major anchient Greek peoples. Images of Greece also allow Wilde and mant other male aestheticists of the time to deploy a subtextual homoeroticism. How acurate do you find this?

6. Shakespeare said "all the world is a stage" but Mrs. Vane seems to take it past the limit. Do you think she has Sybil's best interests in mind and based on the knowledge of her failed relationship with a rich man what to do think will become of Sybil and Dorian? 
 
 
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Current Music: the garbage truck passing by
 
 
 
Kirstenfreak4theater on August 18th, 2008 02:48 am (UTC)
1. At first I was definitely picturing Ben Barnes as Dorian... but after you mentioned Ed Speleers, I kind of felt that was a perfect match for my brain-Dorian. I imediately pictured Rupert Everett as Lord Henry, probably because he has portrayed many similar Wilde characters in the past. As for Basil, I pictured somone along the lines of Brendan Gleeson-- someone a little more portly and not as self-assured as Lord Henry. Aaaand I know she's blonde, but I picture someone like Carey Mullugan as Sybil. What do you think of those??

2. I think Wilde's success in the theater world does have some influence on his work as a novelist. I can sense a sort of theatricality about his dialogue and his characters and scenes are very visual, which as we know is crucial to theater. I can also sense a similarity between his characterizations in Importance and Dorian Gray-- such as Algernon and Lord Henry (which probably influenced my casting, above). I think his work as a playwright and poet helps Dorian Gray become more lyrical and descriptive.

3. No doubt the whole first chapter formed preconceptions of Dorian. Basil made him out to be a Grecian god of epic proportions, so I expected nothing less, really. But Dorian, to me, seems to be extreamely naieve and immature. He's not nearly as perfect as Basil made him seem-- yes, his beauty is flooring, but his personality so far has shown him to be just an ordinary teenager. Sybil, too, seemed exceptionally young after Dorian's chapter-long praises of her. She also strikes me as a very moldable person without much life experiance.

4. Dorian does seem to be pretty insecure, which may account for his weak backbone. But then again, he is also exceptionally shallow and vain (and seems to be growing only more so). I think there could be hope for Dorian to find his own moral compass, but he would need to get away from the influence of both Lord Henry and Basil in order to do so.

5. Honestly, the underlying homosexual currents are pretty funny. It's very clear that Basil has something of a crush on Dorian... and Dorian seems pretty oblivious to it. I think Lord Henry is interested by Dorian and clearly wants to seduce him into the pleasure-filled lifestyle that he, himself, so enjoys... but I wouldn't think he is in LOVE with Dorian to the extent that Basil seems to be.

6. I thought Mrs. Vane was a very interesting character. It's interesting to think that a life on the stage could one day become more real to a person than actual life. I can't help but wonder in Wilde ever ran into a muted version of this character in his real life experience with the theater. I do not think she really has her childrens' best interests at heart-- she seems to be more preoccupied with paying off her own debts and living in the spotlight for as long as possible. One thing that really interested me was the mystery surrounding James's (and Sybil's?) father... who is he? I'm secretly hoping it's Lord Henry, but we'll see...
kylahbirdkylahbird on August 19th, 2008 06:35 am (UTC)
1. As Kirsten stated before, my pick for Dorian Gray is Ed Speleers. I couldn't really help it, he just popped into my head which is weird because I normally just create someone in my mind based on character descriptions. I too see Rupert Everett as Harry because of his role as Algernon. I imagined though, Basil as someone younger, someone more Harry's age, maybe someone like...I'm not sure because I have "mind" Basil so stuck in there...and for some reason after I read Sybil's description I thought of Anna Popplewell from Narnia (probably because Ben Barns is in that movie). Sybil's mom could be Helena Bonham Carter, she's crazy.

2. I really noticed how lyrical everyone is when they talk in this book, I feel like I am reading a play and I rather like it. In fact it makes me want to read a play. It just adds something and the eloquence of its characters is surely one of the reasons it is a classic.

3. I feel like in both the instances that we hear about characters before we see them their beauty is true to word but their personalities are weaker than the teller makes them out to be. Or maybe it is not that they built their personalities up but that in commending them on their other attributes make the reader assume that they will be of strong personal character. They both turn out a lot younger and naive than they sound.

4. When Dorian was telling Lord Henry about Sybil it seemed as if he was coming out from under his glamorous sin spell and that love would save him if he just held on to it. But I'm not so sure because Dorian seems pretty impressionable and kind of really stupid sometimes. I think if the kid had more of a backbone and better friends he would be okay. He's a little too much of a sponge to stand up on his own two feet.

5. Basil is in love with Dorian, Dorian idolizes Harry, Harry is in love with himself. It's interesting about the Greek thing because in my art history class we learned about how old Greek masters would often take young male apprentices and have a homosexual relationship with them almost as a part of their tutelage. You get undertones of that here only Basil is being denied and Harry accepted by the student rather than the other way around. It's almost like Dorian is having a love affair with Harry's philosophy of life.

6. I don't think that Lord Harry is Sybil and Jim's father because I'm pretty sure I read him being referred as a young man and he would be too old to be the father. I do sort of suspect however that we will meet the father whoever he turns out to be whether we have seen him yet or not. Maybe he is Harry's old bachelor uncle?
ringbearer_89ringbearer_89 on August 20th, 2008 05:26 am (UTC)
1. I really like the casting of Ben Barnes as Dorian. I've pretty much gotten him stuck in my head for that character. As for the rest....I definitely love the idea of Rupert Everett as Lord Henry. He's just so charming and witty and blunt! Perfect for the character. I haven't really thought of anyone as basil....maybe that guy from Shakespeare in Love? The Fiennes guy.

2. I don't have too much experience with plays, but Wilde definitely does a great job of making very distinctive characters with unique voices. He does manage to keep the same witty dialogue in this book as he does in his plays.

3. I definitely think they don't exactly live up to their descriptions. Basil makes Dorian sound like he's beautiful and intelligent and just the most awesome person in the world...and maybe he would seem like that if Henry hadn't gone off on his whole rant about youth and preserving beauty, which made Dorian self conscious. I think Sybil, like Dorian, didn't live up to the hype (so to speak). But I think that's how we're supposed to feel.....maybe?

4. As much as I would like to believe in Dorian, he just strikes me as a lemming. He takes the things Harry says to heart and lets them change him. He doesn't seem to have very strong opinions of his own.

5. Ahem, I was wondering if this would come up as one of our topics of discussion. I definitely saw a stronger-than-friendship attraction that both men had towards Dorian. Basil is very obviously attached to Dorian and Harry pretty much wants to conquer Dorian (and I agree with Kirsten that it's just for the hell of it).

6. I agree with Kylah in that I think Harry is too young to be their father, but it definitely seems plausible that Harry's uncle could be.
Kirstenfreak4theater on August 20th, 2008 09:00 am (UTC)
Aw, alas my Harry=daddy theory has been shot down. Oh well, not surprised :)
I like Joseph Finnes for Basil... I don't know why I picture him so much older than Henry, it's just something weird in my brain, I guess.
Kirstenfreak4theater on August 20th, 2008 09:04 am (UTC)
PS:
DUDE Colin Firth is Lord Henry in the movie! For some reason I thought he was playing Basil.
But the guy from *ahem* The Water Horse is playing Basil. He was pretty great in that movie...

And as an interesting side-note, they've shortened the title to just "Dorian Gray". Thoughts?
ringbearer_89ringbearer_89 on August 20th, 2008 10:14 pm (UTC)
Re: PS:
I just looked up the cast again and I like the casting of Basil, but Colin Firth doesn't seem sprightly enough to be Henry...but maybe he's livened up a bit?

They probably shortened the title because it's easier to say "Dorian Gray" than "the Picture of Dorian Gray" or maybe not...it's much more to the point, lol.