‘Youth is the One Thing Worth Having’ – The Picture of Dorian Gray

the Picture of Dorian Gray

When the decadent Lord Henry Wotton warns the irresistible young Dorian Gray that he really should not get sunburnt, his forthcoming remarks regarding youth and beauty are unashamedly brash but correct none the less. In the opinion of this poster no truer words have been written about ageing. Don’t worry, I’ll be getting to his remarkable sermon shortly. Someone who has only recently come to the realisation that beauty in a person is only temporary and reached that threshold where beauty is now a thing of the past, I couldn’t have been more impressed with this wonderful monologue written by Oscar Wilde from his Gothic horror and fable The Picture of Dorian Gray.

I found myself pondering whether my younger beautiful self would have been as receptive to these words as I am now today.

In a previous post, I wrote about my favourite short story called The Happy Prince also written by Oscar Wilde. A fellow blogger Ashokwahi recommended that I read Oscar Wilde’s only full-length novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. Part-way through reading it, I found myself jotting down the page numbers of my favourite quotes because they were too profound to just let pass by. One such instance was Lord Wotten’s words about beauty and youth. I am indebted to Ashokwahi for his marvelous recommendation! So without further to do I present to you this passage from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray:

Beauty and youth Part1
Beauty and youth Part 2
Beauty and youth Part 3
Beauty and youth Part 4
Beauty and youth Part 5

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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Posted in Reading, Reflections
24 comments on “‘Youth is the One Thing Worth Having’ – The Picture of Dorian Gray
  1. Take The Happy Prince, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Importance of Being Ernest, and Ballad of Reading Gaol, and it becomes obvious the guy was a genius!! A great quotation!

    • It’s handy I have this nearby second hand book shop with more of Oscar Wilde’s writings, which I’m sure to get acquainted with in no time at all. Yes, he’s something else.

  2. Interesting and wise. A thought-provoking post! Thank you.

  3. selizabryangmailcom says:

    “We degenerate into hideous puppets….haunted by the memory of passions…”

    Well-stated and so true. But thanks, Oscar Wilde, for making the thought of an arsenic-laced cocktail really appealing right now, lol !!

    • ‘An arsenic-laced cocktail’. This had me in raptures. Oscar Wilde paints such an alluring picture of youth in the first half of Dorian Gray that I also fell hook, line and sinker into his monologue, so much so I wrote this post about it. What I didn’t realise is I was set up like ‘Dorian Gray’ for the great fall due to my having succumbed to his morbid conclusions about ageing.

  4. selizabryangmailcom says:

    The feel of the above excerpts reminds me of Death in Venice (the movie) and those shots of the beautiful young boy in the sunlight on the beach with the older composer entranced and obsessed by him. Combined with the musical score, it always filled me with a nameless melancholy and longing, even when I was younger, the sense of something intangible slipping away. Maybe time. *sigh*

    • That’s an interesting comparison you’ve made although I’m afraid I haven’t seen Death in Venice, but I’ve just put it on my to-watch list. Also you wrote about it so eloquently that I almost felt like I had seen the movie. Your reflections are charming.

  5. selizabryangmailcom says:

    Thanks so much, Matthew! Nice to meet you, by the way. My name’s Stacey.
    I think you would enjoy Death in Venice–it’s very moving. And now this entire conversation is a catalyst for me to go smear some night cream all over my face. Just kidding. I never use night cream. Although I probably should. 🙂

    • Haha, Hi Stacey. I’m Matthew. The pleasure is mine. Although I am concerned you may have taken Lord Henry’s quote way too far. Hehe. I started applying moisturizer to my face after showering hoping that would somehow make a difference. Nope. I’m looking forward to seeing Death in Venice. I’ll let you know my thoughts. Have a wonderful day Stacey. Cheers.

    • Oh I meant to ask, which version of Death in Venice do you recommend? The original 1971 version?

  6. selizabryangmailcom says:

    Yeah, 1971’s the one I saw and which also has Gustav Mahler’s beautiful music. Let me know. Enjoy!

  7. selizabryangmailcom says:

    PS: It’s slow, of course. The ’70s being a different world, basically, before the world of Marvel or the Transformers, but I know you already knew that. I just mean be ready to be mellow– long shots, lingering looks, etc. Like Remains of the Day could NEVER be made today, for example. So much textured quality lost with the decades and diminished attention spans and even intellectual comprehension. *sigh*
    Oh, well.

    • Yes, don’t get me onto the subject of recent movie blockbusters and the drench of marvel comic releases. Fortunately, I have an indie movie arthouse cinema nearby to indulge my snobbery. Haha. Interesting you mentioned Remains of the Day. That is in my top 3 movies. I have my 100 favourite movies on my web site. I saw it again only recently. The protagonists never kiss, but it’s probably the most romantic movie I can recall. I’m always a wreck by the end of it. Also, I don’t think I have seen better acting in a movie.

  8. selizabryangmailcom says:

    Sorry for blowing up your blog (as the kids like to say), but this is kinda fun, though.
    I think we’re very simpatico! Remains of the Day is one of my favorite films! I agree about the romance; it’s deep and palpable but never quite realized, and the not quite getting there part brings on the heartache, ’cause he ends up kinda doing the same thing with his entire life. I’m all emotional, too, by the end, because in today’s movies, of course, he would chase after her in the airport and *get* her again at the last minute. But in this movie…no. It’s called maturity, children. It’s called consequences that happen after the choices we make. And no one wants to see that kind of ending anymore. And I agree–such great, layered, beautiful acting.

    • If that’s what it means, I wish I had my blog blown up more if the conversations are as enjoyable as this one. I just finished watching ‘Death in Venice’. The costume design, cinematography and music is something to behold. I can see why you made the comparison between Oscar Wilde’s excerpt and this movie. I have the movie ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ at hand which I’m also looking forward to. Your thoughts about Remains of the Day correspond with mine. The scenes where they reunite at the hotel and on the quay and finally when the bus pulls away are some of the most moving I’ve ever seen. Especially when they are having coffee and he finally asks her again to come work for him and she politely refuses (and regrettably so) due to family commitments. Mr Stephen’s facial reaction as he realises the love of his life has just slipped through his fingers again is immense. I’ve never watched those scenes without losing it! Haha.

  9. selizabryangmailcom says:

    Oh, good, I’m glad it’s enjoyable and not annoying, lol !!
    You saw it already! Death in Venice. Mm. It was a visual buffet, wasn’t it?
    Were there many versions of Dorian Gray made? Which version are you going to see?
    I need to watch that one myself. Oh, boy, good stuff! What else will fall into our hands for discussion, I wonder, lol !!

    • I love this … ‘visual buffet’. That ‘Death in Venice’ certainly was. I felt at times a little uncomfortable because it was difficult to discern whether he was obsessed with the minor because of a homosexual inclination or for purely aesthetic / beauty reasons. I came to the conclusion mostly the latter. You can imagine the uproar this movie caused after its release.
      The version I have of Dorian Gray is 1945 which seems to be the most well received.
      I’m sure we will have lots more to talk about as we browse each other’s blogs from time to time. Cheers.

  10. selizabryangmailcom says:

    Ah, 1945. Gotcha. It’s on my list! But between work and hubby hogging the remote…. 🙂
    Time again………….

    Yeah, I don’t recall exactly what was going on with the man. There might have been underlying homosexual leanings but I tend to think like you that it was just obsession. I don’t think homosexuality would make much sense for the theme; it had more to do with time and regret. But it was interesting that they chose a young boy instead of a young girl. Yeah, ’70s people must have freaked!

    • Hi Stacey, just hide the remote and watch him go crazy. hehe.
      I can’t vouch for the movie since I haven’t seen it. I recommend the book however even if the second half descends into a moral disintegration of sorts for our Dorian.
      It was recommended to me by another blogger on here.
      Have a lovely weekend!

  11. Daedalus Lex says:

    Great passage! Hard to go wrong with Wilde, though!

  12. […] ‘Youth is the One Thing Worth Having’ – The Picture of Dorian Gray — Observation Blogger […]

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