It was quite by luck that I picked up and read The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I’ve done most of my classical reading in high school and college thanks to a literature degree. But Dorian was never on the curriculum.
Dorian Gray was a naïve and innocent young man in London who agreed to sit for a portrait by an average artist named Basil. Dorian was the epitome of beauty and youth and innocence. Basil was inspired by Dorian so completely that in led Basil to create some of his greatest work of all time.
When Dorian saw the finished painting, he cursed it as it will stay forever young and beautiful while he will grow old and more haggard with each passing day.
Through Basil, Dorian met a debauched and reckless lord by the name of Henry who told Dorian that he should live purely for pleasure. That he should think only of himself and do whatever gave him joy. No responsibility. No thought to others.
Dorian took Henry’s instruction to heart and he went down a reckless, dark path of pleasure and sin. Dorian pursued every pleasure, every vice. But such a debauched life never took a toll on his body. The sins and waste appeared on the painting that Dorian hid away in his shame. Dorian’s beauty and youth remains as fresh as the day the painting was completed.
Let’s say the book doesn’t have a happy ending for Dorian or Basil.
But Rinda and I didn’t pick Dorian for its grim ending. Actually, I liked it for the story of Basil and his love/inspiration from Dorian. There are several parts where Basil is describing Dorian to Henry.
‘Tell me more about Mr. Dorian Gray. How often do you see him?’
‘Every day. I couldn’t be happy if I didn’t see him every day. He is absolutely necessary to me.’
I think Marc can agree that Royce is “absolutely necessary.”
There are little bits where Basil shares his thoughts about Dorian that make me think of Marc and how important Royce becomes to him in Deadly Dorian.
Marc is an art gallery owner and art dealer. But at his heart, he is an artist. The problem is that he has never been able to take his talent to the next level. He searching for that one inspiration that will push him.
Meanwhile, because of Dorian, Basil was able to pour himself into his art, creating great beauty.
“It is not merely that I paint from him, draw from him, sketch from him. Of course I have done all that. But he is much more to me than a model or a sitter….Unconsciously he defines for me the lines of a fresh school, a school that is to have in it all the passion of the romantic spirit, all the perfection of the spirit that is Greek. The harmony of soul and body…”
For Marc, Royce is able to become that inspiration. He give Marc the strength to tap his own skill and passion for life and love.
“He is never more present in my work than when no image of him is there. He is a suggestion, as I have said, of a new manner. I find him in the curves of certain lines, in the loveliness and subtleties of certain colors. That is all.”
But in the end, Dorian becomes a threat to Basil.
While there was no happy ending for Basil and Dorian, I am happy to report that the ending is quite different for our Marc and Royce in Deadly Dorian.