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Learn English > English lessons and exercises > English test #632: The Picture of Dorian Gray d'Oscar Wilde
The Picture of Dorian Gray d'Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
He was born in Dublin, where his father was a doctor and his mother a leading figure in the Irish Nationalist cause. He studied at Oxford and became a well-known figure in the literary and art circles of the time.Turning his aestheticism into a whole way of life,Wilde developed the cult of refinement in art and lifestyle-a way of offending and criticizing upper-class society.Wilde's enjoyment in public of the company of handsome young men and his friendship with Lord Alfred Douglas led to gossip about his sexual life.
In 1890, his novel 'The Picture of Dorian Gray', was withdrawn from sale when it was felt that it centered upon homosexual desire.In 1895, Wilde tried to sue Lord Douglas's father for libel, but he was emprisoned for 'gross indecency'.
Released in 1897, he spent most of his time in Italy and in France, living in poverty.
It appeared in England at the end of the 19th century, as a reaction against Victorian values and their insistence that art should have a moral or social function. This movement had a deep influence on writers such as Woolf, Joyce, Yeats...
Many of these writers became involved in a movement called 'Decadence' at the end of the century.They claimed that art should emphasize the artificial, the strange,the unnatural...
Oscar Wilde's 'The picture of Dorian Gray' is a perfect example of the writing style of the 'Decadence' movement.
From The Picture of Dorian Gray
From Chapter 3
Dorian Gray is a young and handsome man, wishing to be young forever. One day, he meets Lord Henry Wotton,who will become his best friend. This scene takes place in the house of Lord Henry Wotton's uncle, Lord Fermor.
When Lord Henry entered the room,he found his uncle sitting in a rough shooting coat,smoking a cheroot, and grumbling over 'The Times'.
'Well, Harry,' said the old gentleman, 'what brings you out so early? I thought you dandies never got up till two, and were not visible till five.'
'Pure family affection, I assure you, Uncle George. I want to get something out of you.'
'Money,I suppose' said Lord Fermor, making a wry face. 'Well, sit down and tell me about it. Young people, nowadays, imagine that money is everything.'
'Yes' murmured Lord Henry, settling his button-hole in his coat; 'and when they grow older they know it. But I don't want money. It is only people who pay their bills who want that, Uncle George, and I never pay mine. Credit is the capital of a younger son, and one lives charmingly upon it. Besides, I always deal with Dartmoor's tradesmen and consequently they never bother me.What I want is information; not useful information,of course;useless information.'
'Well, I can tell you anything that is in the English Blue-book, Harry, although those fellows nowadays write a lot of nonsense. When I was in the Diplomatic, things were much better. But I hear they let them in now by examination.What can you expect? Examinations, sir, are pure humbug from beginning to end. If a man is a gentleman, he knows quite enough, and if he is not a gentleman, whatever he knows is bad for him.'
'Mr.Dorian Gray does not belong to Blue-books, Uncle George', said Lord Henry languidly.
'Mr.Dorian Gray? Who is he?' asked Lord Fermor, knitting his bushy white eyebrows.
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