This week I’m reading Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde for book club (tomorrow).
Faustian portrait records man’s evil debauchery.
Here’s how Oscar Wilde begins his only novel.
The artist is the creator of beautiful things.
To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim.
The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.
And from page 56
“Women are wonderfully practical,”murmured Lord Henry,–“much more practical than we are. In situations of that kind we often forget to say anything about marriage, and they always remind us.”
The views of marriage in the Victorian era are interesting to me. The Importance of Being Earnest is one of my favorite plays (probably because it was the one I taught during my student teaching so many years ago), and it solidly demonstrates how ridiculous trying to find an ideal match that meets societal expectations is.
This line reminds me of Wilde’s commentary from Earnest where Algernon suggests that proposing marriage sounds like business, not pleasure. And for Victorian women, it may have been. Victorian women were groomed to do housework and take interest in their husbands’ interests. If a woman didn’t conform to societal ideals, they would end up spouseless (read: useless). With that information, it makes sense that the Victorian woman would be “wonderfully practical” about marriage (and remind the men while they’re at it).
Have you read The Picture of Dorian Gray? What did you think? What’s your 56?