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The Picture of Dorian Gray– by Oscar Wilde


–Read India Initiative–

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This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about

        This is an amazing novel of its times but with an unearthly theme. The biggest truth of life is, everyone wants to look beautiful and that too all throughout their lives. This offbeat novel profoundly captures this primeval topic. Even in present times. You will find many celebrities and even average, well-to-do individuals going in for various beauty treatments to keep their looks shipshape. 

    Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin, Ireland, in the year 1854. After a notable career as a poet, a lecturer, and even an editor, he published ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ in a monthly magazine in 1890. But he wasn’t satisfied with it. So he soon revised and lengthened it, for book publication in 1891. Wilde even wrote nine plays that included four celebrated comedies namely: Lady Windermere’s Fan, An ideal Husband, A Woman of No Importance, and The Importance of being Ernest. Sadly, Wilde died in Paris in the year 1900.

    I had read this eerie book long ago. The story is not that easy to forget. As the essence of it keeps haunting you, even during your day to day existence—that is, how to keep your good looks alive. Remember, there are always moments in your life that can but change the drift of your pursuits.

    While waiting to begin his final sitting for artist Basil Hallward’s portrait of him. The beautiful, young Dorian Gray has a conversation that changes the very course of his life. Basil’s friend Lord Henry Wotton fills Dorian’s head with the idea that youth, beauty, and pleasure are all that matters in the world. He urges Dorian. To, indulge in all of life’s sensual joys. Before, age catches up and his good looks fade.

    When Dorian sees Basil’s stunning finished picture. He is transfixed by its reflection on his own beauty. But he is also troubled by the insight that the image in the painting will forever remain youthful and handsome, while he himself would grow old, and be less desirable in times to come. So, he wishes aloud if the roles could be reversed. Saying that he would give his soul, if only the painting would suffer the ravages of time and instead he would remain young forever. But as the old adage goes: Be careful what you wish for.

    And that brings me to the splitting point. If Oscar Wilde’s only published novel is at an elevation of hedonism? Or is it just a cautionary tale, or something else, altogether? In his preface, Wilde warns readers not to search for meaning in the story. He says ‘Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming.’ He further says ‘There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.’

    ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ is one of the most elegantly written books of all time. So I understand and even felt while reading.

    The chief protagonist ‘Dorian’ has some unusual emotions and beliefs when you find him saying. “How sad it is!” murmured Dorian Gray with his eyes still fixed upon his own portrait. “How sad it is! I shall grow old, and horrible, and dreadful. But this picture will remain always young. It will never be older than this particular day of June….If it were only the other way! If it were I who was to be always young, and the picture that was to grow old! For that—for that—I would give everything! Yes, there is nothing in the whole world I would not give! I would give my soul for that!”

    Some call it a philosophical novel. But I would also call it a controversial one for that era of time.    Since it has been published several times the plot of the novel varies between each of the published versions.  The summary below deals with the longest version the 1891 novel.                           

    ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ commences on a pleasing summer day of the Victorian era England. Where, Lord Henry Wotton, a dogmatic personality, is attentively observing the astute artist Basil Hallward while he is painting the portrait of Dorian Gray. A handsome young man who happens to be Basil’s ultimate muse.

    While posing for the painting, Dorian listens to Lord Henry, espousing, his hedonistic world view. When he begins to think that beauty is the only aspect of life worth pursuing. This prompts Dorian to incessantly wish that the painted image of his, would age, instead of himself. Under the hedonistic influence of Lord Henry, Dorian decides to fully explore his sensuality. When, he discovers actress Sibyl Vane, who performs in Shakespeare plays, in some dingy working-class theatre. Dorian approaches and courts her and soon proposes marriage. The enamoured Sibyl calls him ‘Prince Charming.’ She swoons with the ecstasy of being loved. But her over protective brother James Vane, warns, that in case ‘Prince Charming’ harms her, he will murder him.

    Dorian proudly invites Basil and Lord Henry to see Sibyl perform in Romeo and Juliet. Sibyl, too enamoured with Dorian to act, performs poorly on that day that makes both Basil and Lord Henry think. Dorian has fallen in love with Sibyl because of her beauty instead of her acting talent.  

     Embarrassed, Dorian rejects Sibyl. Telling her that acting alone was her beauty. Without which she no longer interests him. On returning home, Dorian notices that the portrait has changed. His wish has come true as the man in the portrait bears a subtle sneer of cruelty.

    Conscience-stricken and lonely, Dorian decides to reconcile with Sibyl, but he is too late, as Lord Henry informs him that Sibyl has committed suicide by swallowing prussic acid. Dorian then understands, where his life is headed, lust and good looks shall suffice. Dorian locks the portrait up, and over the next eighteen years. He experiments with every vice; influenced by a morally poisonous French novel that Lord Henry Wotton gave him. (The narrative does not reveal the title of the French novel. But during the trial, Wilde did say that the novel he had read was ‘A Rebours’ (Against the Nature, 1884), by Joris-Karl Huysmans.

    One night before leaving for Paris. Basil goes to Dorian’s house. To, ask him about the rumours of his self-indulgent voluptuary.

    Dorian does not deny his debauchery and takes Basil to see the portrait. The portrait has become hideous. Which Basil is able to identify as his work, only by the signature he affixes to all his portraits. Basil is horrified and beseeches Dorian to pray for salvation. But in deep anger Dorian blames his fate on Basil and stabs him to death. He then calmly blackmails an old friend, the scientist Alan Campbell into using his knowledge of chemistry to destroy the body of Basil Hallward. Alan not able to come to terms kills himself over the deed.

    To, escape the guilt of his crime. Dorian goes to an opium den. Where, James Vane is unknowingly present. James has been seeking vengeance upon Dorian, ever since Sibyl killed herself. But he had no leads to pursue. The only thing he knew about Dorian was the name Sibyl called him by, ‘Prince Charming.’ In the opium den he hears someone refer to Dorian as ‘Prince Charming,’ and he accosts Dorian forthwith. Dorian deceives James into believing that he is too young to have known Sibyl, who killed herself 18 years ago, as his face is still that of a young man. James relents and releases Dorian. But is then, approached by a woman from the opium den who reproaches James for not killing Dorian. She confirms that the man was indeed Dorian Gray by explaining that he has not aged even in eighteen years. James runs after Dorian. But by then he is gone.

     James then begins to stalk Dorian, causing Dorian to fear for his life.  However, during a shooting party, a hunter accidentally kills James Vane, who was lurking around a thicket. On returning to London, Dorian tells Lord Henry that he will live righteously now on. His new probity begins with deliberately not breaking the heart of the naive Hetty Merton, his latest romantic interest. Dorian wonders if his new-found goodness has reverted, the corruption in his picture. But when he looks at it he sees even an uglier image of himself. This makes Dorian understand that his true motives for self sacrifice of moral reformation were only a vanity and curiosity of his quest for new experiences. Deciding, only full confession will absolve him of the wrongdoing. Dorian decides to destroy the last vestige of his conscience, and the only piece of evidence remaining of his crimes—the picture.

    In a rage, he takes the knife with which he had murdered Basil Hallward, and stabs the picture. The servants of the house awaken on hearing a cry from the locked room. On the street, passers-by who also heard the cry call the police. Upon entering the locked room, the servants find an unknown old man, stabbed in the heart. With his face and figure, withered and decrepit. The servants identify the disfigured corpse by the rings on its fingers that belonged to their master. And beside him is the picture of Dorian Gray, restored to its original beauty.   


By Kamlesh Tripathi




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By Kamlesh Tripathi

In the Cricket world cup 2015 only fourteen teams are playing. Which are divided into two pools that will play 49 matches in two countries, to decide the world cup title. International Cricket Council (ICC) recognizes more than 125 countries that play cricket. But many are not up to the mark to be included in the international circuit, such as the World Cup. ICC has 10 full members, 38 Associate Members and 59 Affiliate Members and that adds up to 107 countries. The West Indies cricket team does not represent a single country.

The world today has 196 countries and with that logic, cricket looks like an isolated game with only 14 countries, vying for the world cup which is far from a world phenomenon. Even when the cheer and clapping is getting louder each day as the tournament progresses in those 14 countries. And so, this magnificent pageant that is hosted every 4 years is only witnessed by a small section of the world. As the game is not as popular as soccer which is played in almost all the countries.

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In the same fashion we also have the shorter version of the game called the T-20 cricket world cup, every four years. And, in addition we keep having individual test matches, ODIs and T-20 series between countries which are generally followed by the supporters of their respective countries only. Recently, BCCI has also launched IPL series to promote, both domestic and international cricket. But, even with all of this, cricket is not getting sold exponentially beyond the 14 countries that participate in the world cup. So, there is a greater need to popularize cricket in less and non-cricket playing countries, by shedding traditional, autocratic and bureaucratic ways of thinking and dealing with cricket.

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The 14 countries that currently play in the international world cup circuit are- India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangla Desh, Australia, New Zealand, Afghanistan, UAE, South Africa, Zimbabwe, West Indies, England, Ireland & Scotland.

This more or less promotes cricket in their respective countries only, and to a certain extent in their neighbouring countries. But if cricket needs to spread to other countries by leaps and bounds. Something out-of-the-box needs to be thought through. A better way of popularizing cricket would be to have another world class tournament. Where, we could bunch teams of 3-4 countries, continent wise, and have a world cup tournament amongst them, such as;

Team 1: India, Sri Lanka & Bangladesh

Team 2: Australia, New Zealand

Team 3: Pakistan, Afghanistan and UAE

Team 4: South Africa, Zimbabwe

Team 5: West Indies, England, Ireland and Scotland


Cricket was never played in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, since Adam was a lad. It only came along with the Britishers and became an endearing and formidable game, close to a religion. Which goes to show, if publicized, facilitated and marketed well. It has the potential to become a game as popular as soccer.

Individual countries, and more pointedly India, may have done well to promote cricket in their own country. But Cricket as such has not seen a deluge of popularity, breaking barriers of borders and continents. Rather, it cocooned in its ego and bureaucracy and never butterflied across the world as soccer or lawn tennis. To sight and example, for so many years Bangladesh had to wait to get Test status and same goes for countries like Ireland and Scotland, that are still waiting.


Just citing an example. Increase the team members in the squad of Team 1, as referred above (India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh) by 3-5 and include new talent from China, Nepal, Myanmar, Maldives or any other country close by and give them a chance in warm up matches, or even just let them be with the team or include them in practice sessions or as twelfth man to be viewed by spectators back home. As this also will popularize the game back in their countries in a big way. For, didn’t it suddenly make a world of difference when some of our athletes were seen on world stage, in various disciplines at the Olympics?

And, hold this world cup tournament among continents every two years. As this will help in good publicity and brand building because public memory is too short, and keep the venue in some non-playing country or countries that play, but are not world class like China, Nepal, Myanmar, Maldives, Kabul, Spain, or the US to name a few. Request their dignitaries or popular figures to inaugurate and play the game at these inaugural matches. ICC is rich and could allocate a budget for this. Also, give special incentives including discounted tickets to tourists who want to watch the game of cricket from non-cricket playing countries. And just before the tournament, legendary and star cricketers depending upon their popularity like Sachin Tendulkar, Imran Khan, Viv Richards, Ricky Ponting, Sanat Jaisurya, to name a few, could give cricketing lessons to youngsters who want to play cricket.

Give this world cup tournament a well thought through, heavy weight title, making it look like a competition among titans, continents, giants, bravo juggernauts or even ET. For, this will have a domino effect in popularizing the game by leaps and bounds. Especially, in non playing continents or even non-playing countries or countries where the game is not played to its full potential. For where is the continued rejoice if the game continues to hover and be competed around in the same surroundings. Perhaps, the present day cricket may give you a feeling. As if it has been discarded and rejected by rest of the world and only adopted by few countries, with world potential still to be realized; and all in the interest of cricket.