Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
"How sad it is!" murmured Dorian Gray, with his eyes still fixed upon his own portrait. "How sad it is! I shall grow old, and horrible, and dreadful. But this picture will remain always young. It will never be older than this particular day of June . . . If it were only the other way! If it were I who was to be always young, and the picture that was to grow old! For that - for that - I would give everything! Yes, there is nothing in the whole world I would not give! I would give my soul for that!"
Be careful what you wish for, Dorian.
My favourite part of this book will always be the preface.
Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.
There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.
We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.
All art is quite useless.
Dorian Gray is the subject of a full-length portrait in oil by Basil Hallward, an artist who is impressed and infatuated by Dorian's beauty; he believes that Dorian's beauty is responsible for the new mode in his art as a painter. Through Basil, Dorian meets Lord Henry Wotton, and he soon is enthralled by the aristocrat's hedonistic worldview: that beauty and sensual fulfilment are the only things worth pursuing in life.
Newly understanding that his beauty will fade, Dorian expresses the desire to sell his soul, to ensure that the picture, rather than he, will age and fade. The wish is granted, and Dorian pursues a libertine life of varied and amoral experiences, while staying young and beautiful; all the while his portrait ages and records every sin.
None of my 'on holds' at the library are available yet, so I'm delving into my shelves for my next read.
The Picture of Dorian Gray is Oscar Wilde's only novel, and unsurprisingly considering the author and the subject, it caused a sensation when it was published. And that was after the editor removed 500 words for indecency.