Reading a book is like creating a nonpareil experience for self, like taking a pleasant walk towards one’s private chambers…No one is invited to intrude upon the privacy one indulges in, as if something has changed recently, the decision has been made and one is already embarking upon a journey rich with new life-like situations. There is no experience as intimate as reading a book. And how does one feel choosing a book from one’s personal collection or from the book store and gifting it to someone? One can not resist caressing the book, running fingers through its gossamerish layers of beautiful world, lovingly, holding it close to savor the fragrance that is tucked deep in the crisp murmurs for the last time, before gift wrapping it up, admiring self for having taken a meaningful decision, as one knows the book will make a great gift. I felt and did this many a time, standing at the billing counter, beaming over my selection, feeling certain that the book would go to its new home, introduce itself to other books in the shelf, and stay there as a constant reminder of a few pleasant walks one took through the silent grassy fields with no dramatic twists. I still can recall that incident quite vividly…I have always been an admirable gifter, being aware of one’s preferences and choosing a book (as a gift) accordingly. I took this book “Cider with Rosie”, which has got a marvellous morning freshness, a wonderfully vivid memoir of Laurie Lee’s childhood and youth in a remote Cotswold village…
“from the moment he is set down in the long grass, thick as a forest and alive with grasshoppers…I remember, too, the light on the slopes, long shadows in tufts and hollows, with cattle, brilliant as painted china, treading their echoing shapes…” I fell in love with the book with minimal effort and I scheduled its journey as a gift to my sister, Vani who is in US of A. But I could not resist this nonsensical temptation to have it with me, as part of my book collection….with not even a hint of hesitation, shamelessly, I wrote “A gift to Jyo-the child woman” on the book….Parting with my book certainly features amongst the toughest decisions I ever made…I cry silently, I struggle, I climb this “See-Saw wooden swing”, Should I gift or Should I drop this idea…. 🙂 I do not know whether or not Abhi felt the same when he played around with this idea of gifting away his Collection of Oscar Wilde works – the most cherished book, to me.
As we all know, Oscar Wildie, was a gifted poet, playwright, and an illustrious phenomenon in 19th century England. He was stylish to his times, and was considered a maverick who attacked Victorian narrow-mindedness. His sense of humor and wit, has been sensational and brilliant …..should I say, Oscar Wilde is “An Event that smacks of refreshing defiance for those convoluted and staid souls”…
I, especially, adored this delienation of him ….”On his arrival to America, Wilde stirred the nation with his flamboyant personality : wearing long silk stockings, an unusual mode of dress, long, flowing hair which gave the impression of an “effeminate, and a general air of wittiness, sophistication and eccentricity. He was an insant celebrity…”
His controversial work “The Picture of Dorian Gray”…..
A distinctly subversive “homosexual subculture” within the Victorian society forms the backdrop for this masterpiece, which unfortunately was framed as the evidence against Oscar Wilde who was severely punished in 1895. The work clearly reflects, Wilde, the effeminate dandy, and his enthusiastic fascination for “enigmatic hedonism of youth” and his disposition towards homosexuality…”If it were I who was to be always young, and the picture that was to grow old! For that – I would give everything, yes there is nothing in the world I would not give! I would give my soul for that…” Ah, we mad people, in our madness, we have invented a realism that is vulgar and an ideality that is void…
So true, we always try to avoid realism like something untouchable, like plague and crave the ever-elusive ideal world, desperate to find a few hues of idealism in everyone we come across….The reader would experience a consistent pressure as exerted by two constructs of an ideology and the resulting outcomeant : the platonic construct of “homosexual passion” (the painter Basil Hallward) and the brutal realistic construct of “homosexual practices” (the crafty and vicious Dorian Gray). If we remove the homosexual appetites as the context and replace it with any other life dimension, there does, still undoubtedly, exist a huge disconnect between the ideologies, a human desires to have his life founded upon and the consistent realisation of his inability to follow them in real life, thus leading to the much-avoidable, yet the eventual“moral downfall” in his own eyes.
This quick-paced classic indulges the reader in conversations loaded with paradox, irony, intriguing antithesis simplified etc., with Lord Henry being the commentator on life and its weirdities or contrasts! The story keeps the reader attentive, never allows one to slip into the heady delusions of inadequacy, and it continues to unravel. Most characters, as the story progresses, tend to suggest a specific dimension of the author himself, who was well known for rebellious observations and intelligent repartee. The cunning witticism of Lord Henry, most times, left me feeling unsettled…..a moment of realisation that happened sometime ago, a few months ago, a few years ago!
Perhaps you will tire sooner than he will. It is a sad thing to think of it, but there is no doubt that genius lasts longer than beauty. The mind of the thouroughly well-informed man is a dreadful thing, it is like a bric-a-brac, all monsters and dust, with everything priced above its proper value. I think you will tire first..someday you will look at your friend, and he will seem to you to be a little out of your drawing, or you wont like his tone of colour, or something. You will bitterly reproach him in your own heart , and seriously think that he has behaved very badly to you. The next time he calls you, you will be perfectly cold and indifferent …..
So does this mean that the face that enthralled one in one season hurtles towards a failure, its inability to sustain its influence over him/her? Or it’s not the inability of the face to be questioned, but the person who views the face distorts the face with his/her own grotesque interpretations or varied justifications that he/she borrows from his milieu so as to settle down with a boring and mundane existence without rupturing the rules of existence as dictated by that unseen society ? therefore, does this mean that he or she cease to use one’s will, mind, reason and all other critical faculties as a person when he/she nestles with so-perceived loved ones? or launch this charming spring-time revolution of resentment about the dwellings in a materialistic world, and broods over it indefatigably with so much fervor that the world around him/her crowd at the door, seeking his/her attention, writhing to be in his/her good books?
How I wish I could surrender my soul;
Shed the clothes that become my skin;
See the liar that burns within my needing.
How I wish I’d chosen darkness from cold.
How I wish I had screamed out loud,
Instead I’ve found no meaning.
I guess it’s time I run far, far away; find comfort in pain,
All pleasure’s the same: it just keeps me from trouble.
Hides my true shape, like Dorian Gray.
I’ve heard what they say, but I’m not here for trouble.
It’s more than just words: it’s just tears and rain...}
section purplised : represents the bodies of words I underlined in my book…I gloat over those dog-eared pages and underlined pages of my books…bad habit? yea so? the rest is my interpretation