The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde Review

The Picture of Dorian Gray is by the author Oscar Wilde and was published in 1890. The novel is philosophical fiction and discusses issues such as the purpose of art. A short novel, its page chapters are in roman numerals and are very short. The Picture of Dorian Gray was Oscar Wilde’s only novel and was critical of Victorian society at the time. In the preface, Oscar Wilde remarks “all art is quite useless” because he didn’t believe that art needed to be educational or used for a moral purpose. There are also discussions of vanity and the importance of being youthful as the main character, Dorian Gray, makes a wish that he would not age.

Although Dorian Gray does not age, the portrait ages rapidly into an unattractive, horrifying reflection of Dorian Gray on the inside, although on the outside he is handsome and youthful. It is written in a third person narrative and the main character is Dorian Gray. The first character introduced is Basil Hallward and Lord Henry, who befriends Dorian and influences him negatively. Basil paints a picture of Dorian Gray and gives it to him, but Dorian Gray falls in love with the picture, similar to the story of Narcissus in Greek mythology and stops aging. His vanity has a negative affect on those around him and he loses many friends, he friends he makes are based on their attractiveness and he becomes very unhappy. The story culminates with him stabbing the portrait.

 “Time is jealous of you, and wars against your lilies and your roses” -Lord Henry

 Another theme of the novel is the importance of beauty and the regular references to Narcissus at the beginning. Durian Gray is described as being incredibly attractive and beautiful so he gets a lot of attention. He also mentions that he feels jealous of his own portrait Basil paints of him, because he will age whereas the portrait will not. 

After being written, The Picture of Dorian Gray had about 500 pages removed by an editor, who believed it was too immoral. Oscar Wilde seemingly responds to this censorship in his preface “there is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all.”

“The nineteenth century dislike of Realism is the rage of the caliban seeing his own face in a glass.” – Oscar Wilde

Links

Plot overview of ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’

http://m.sparknotes.com/lit/doriangray/summary.html

Narcissus

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Narcissus-Greek-mythology

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‘Kingdom Coming’ by Emeli Sande EP Review

Emeli Sande has released her new EP ‘Kingdom Coming’ on November 3rd. It has six tracks, one featuring British rapper Giggs and another featuring Wretch 32. Also, an American rapper, Dave East, joins her on ‘Soon’ the first song. This is the Scottish recording artists third album after ‘Long live the angels’ and she continues to show her talent alongside the rappers. 

“Power struggles will always be a waste of time” – Emeli Sande

On track 2 ‘Love not War’ she brings the message “take less and give more, love your sister, brother like before” with a beautiful piano in the background. Then Giggs joins her on the smooth track ‘Higher.’ ‘Deep’ features a harp sound that really brings out the melody. It clearly relates to falling in love. The acoustic ‘Starlight’ has few instruments and focuses more on the vocal technique.

On Kingdom Coming she sings about her parents. Another English rapper, Wretch 32 joins her on this track as well. The hooks and chorus are memorable. “You’re an angel and this ain’t no place for an angel.”

‘With you in Mind’ by Duvv Album Review

Artist and self-described creator, Duvv, from New York, released her 10 track album ‘With you in Mind’ on August 25th. Duvv’s musical influence of R&B and soul music is recognisable within the album and does not sound repetitive of other albums in these genres. ‘With you in Mind’ begins with a brief intro with Duvv saying “God is love, God is truth, God is hope, I love you Lord” and shifting into a short 1 minute long song, that marks the beginning of the album and is similar to a musical interlude taking place between songs.

The first song of the album, “Waters (Blue Screens) begins with soft piano and then Duvv sings “Maybe In the future water will be dead and blue screens will be the new ocean” which could be interpreted as a commentary on the influence of technology into our lives and how the blue light that comes from our screens could soon replace the amount of time we spend looking at nature and scenery, such as the blue of the ocean. “I stare at the screen then I stare at myself, is it good for my health? like a digital death.” In the second verse she questions “Do you see me swimming, do you see me floating?” This reminded me of the poem ‘Not Waving but Drowning’ by Stevie Smith and the misunderstanding of what is actually happening, as ‘swimming’ and ‘floating’ are different things. The rest of Waters (Blue Screens) has a beautiful melody paired with a soft beat.

“Maybe in the future water will be dead and blue screens will be the new ocean”

Dare to Dream begins with synths and has a faster tempo than anything before it, the positive, uplifting message in the title is reflected throughout the song. “If you want it and you’ve got it then you’ve got it, just know you’re not alone” is repeated in the chorus. It ends suddenly and is replaced by the slower paced track ‘Are you Numb?’ where she questions someone’s intentions, it sounds related to a relationship issue. In a 35 second interlude Duvv’s does a short edited voice over. ‘Cold’ is the first song after this interlude and has a relaxing melody and also asks the same existential questions heard in Waters (Blue Screens) “You’re going far all by yourself, is it in faith?”

“Love me despite my flaws, Love you despite your flaws”

Games has a catchy beat with vocals and harmonies with a relaxing verse and upbeat chorus which goes into depth on a relationship rebuilding “Love me despite my flaws, love you despite your flaws,” the ending of ‘Games’ blends seamlessly with the beginning of ‘For You’ which is a slow tempo song similar to ‘Cold’ and has a relaxing feel as well. ‘Creep’ has a slower beginning, but includes a piano before the chorus that brings the song together well. Lastly, Outside / Inside is a short spoken piece about choices that wraps up the album the way in began.

Links

Link to ‘With you in Mind’ by Duvv album on Spotify

http://open.spotify.com/user/earlbrutus/playlist/0RiouvADJnixDMISdfD5Wc

Duvv’s official website

http://www.iamduvv.com/

Not Waving but Drowning poem by Stevie Smith

https://www.poetryarchive.org/poem/not-waving-drowning

Review of Everything, Everything 

*No spoilers*

Everything, Everything was the first book written by Nicola Yoon before The Sun Is Also a Star. 

I enjoyed the book very much and read it within a few days as I was busy but found time to read around an hour a day this week. The story had similar themes such as love, exploration and family. 

It had illustrations by the authors husband David Yoon, which were nice because it has been a long time since I read a book with illustrations. I initially thought there were just lots of chapters, but the headings on the pages became more and more frequent. I also liked that the main character Madeline was widely read and had book spoilers to help support what she was saying. 

These were some very memorable quotes that I particularly enjoyed: 

“Life is a gift. Don’t forget to live it”

“A butterfly flaps its wings now and a hurricane forms in the future”

“Me in love would be like being a food critic with no taste buds. It would be like being a colour-blind painter”

“Love is worth everything. Everything”

This book has an interesting perspective on family and it centres around Madeline, the protagonist, who turns 18 at the beginning. As she suffers from SCID she is not allowed to leave the house at all and essentially lives in a bubble.

This book also features an interracial relationship and this is mentioned in the story. Moreover,to a film is now being released of the book fairly soon. I read the version with pictures from the film and the mother character is described as a 3rd generation Japanese woman while Madeline’s father is African-American, however the film has a black woman acting as the mother. I have not yet seen the film so I am not sure whether the father portrayed as Asian but the film has cast Amandla Stenberg as the Madeline, who is not of Asian descent. 

Personally I don’t think that this change matters to the actual story as the father character is just background he is not in the book, he is deceased along with Maddy’s brother.

There was an insight into different family issues such as Domestic violence and it’s effects. However, nothing particularly graphic occurs in the book. 

Above all, it was a moving love story between the two characters Olly and Maddy, with references to Chaos theory, the Butterfly effect and the idea of Change.

Other reviews: 

Book Review of Everything, Everything 

Everything, Everything Review | The Guardian

Film Review of Everything, Everything: the motion picture 

Everything, Everything film review by Variety 
The film trailer and background 

Film Trailer on nicolayoon.com

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley Review

I enjoyed reading Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, as I found it thought provoking. This is one of the first classic books I’ve written about and I’m glad I started with Frankenstein.

It is a common misunderstanding that the ‘creature’ created in the story is named Frankenstein, however the scientist who created him is actually named Frankenstein. A large part of the book is his flashback. His creation is never given an actual name.

The characters were developed well and they were gradually phased out from the story, so towards the end most of the focus is on the monster and his experience of life and feeling rejected by humans.

“How much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to be greater than nature will allow” – Frankenstein

Personally, I feel that the reader is dissuaded from feeling any sympathy for Frankenstein or the monster, but is encouraged to see God’s creation of humans as superior to humans creations.

Review of The Sun is Also a Star

*no spoilers

Although it didn’t end the way I thought it would, it showed some interesting perspectives of love, life, being an immigrant and having your future decided for you.

Everything takes place within a day or two and the two main characters dialogue makes up a large part of the story. Between the story itself, there are chapters with additional information on cultural aspects of the characters, which adds context to what they are saying. With an interracial relationship as the focus of the story, there is Korean written in italics which is later explained in English.

Some of my favourite quotes from the book:

“The Sun is also a star, and it’s our most important one”

“Dark matter is love, it’s the attracting force”

It has humour but also deep discussions of fate, destiny, science and the meaning of family.

I enjoyed the book very much and would recommend it if you like love stories, or even just a good read while on the train.

    The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon