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Dorian Gray Discussion - Wit and Realism

  • Jun. 3rd, 2009 at 6:16 AM
I've gotten a couple of chapters in to Dorian Gray and I am wondering what everyone thinks about Wilde's renowned wit. 

As an aside, I have been on a realism kick in books lately.  I have actively been searching out novels where the characters (especially women) are portrayed as normal people instead of brilliant, beautiful, special snowflakes whom every male character wants to have sex with.  The alternative seems to be where women are unattractive as a  plot point.  Still not reality and rather annoying.

Back to Dorian Gray.  Oscar Wilde is famous for being clever and witty, whereas us normal people are not that damn insightful or amusing. In reading the first few chapters, every character had a smart comeback or observation for everything.  The part of me that has been searching for realism rolled my eyes and thought how clever, Oscar. Aren't you something?  

Can a writer be too witty for his or her own good? 

How important is realism to you enjoying a novel?

What other thoughts do you have on The Picture of Dorian Gray?



cesy: "Cesy" - An old-fashioned quill and ink (Default)
[personal profile] cesy wrote:
Jun. 3rd, 2009 11:58 am (UTC)
Wit and Realism
I remember noticing this to a certain extent last time I read The Importance of Being Earnest. The wittiness isn't realistic, but it does make it easier and more fun to read provided you're not looking for realism in that area.
[personal profile] pseudonymous wrote:
Jun. 4th, 2009 01:02 am (UTC)
Re: Wit and Realism
Going along with what [personal profile] fifi said below...I know how Wilde writes and I need to appreciate it for what it is.
[personal profile] fifi wrote:
Jun. 4th, 2009 12:35 am (UTC)
I understand this on one level (and on that same damned level I agree 8D) but OTOH (or other level) rolling yr eyes at Oscar's constant wittiness is like rolling yr eyes at the variety of chocolate when you go to a chocolatier. You don't go to Marcolini and expect a stake, now do ya?

On that note, I think I'm going to post excerpts of George Bernard Shaw's memories of Wilde. He too rolled his eyes at Wilde, for other reasons (maybe the same).
[personal profile] pseudonymous wrote:
Jun. 4th, 2009 01:00 am (UTC)
Definitely post it!

I usually love the witty writers.

I've been in a certain literary mood about reality (stemming from the aggravating portrayal of women in a bunch of stuff I read) and I think I am reading this book while I'm in the wrong headspace. Everything is so displeasing.

I need to get my mind right and start appreciating Oscar for exactly who he is : )
[personal profile] fifi wrote:
Jun. 4th, 2009 11:41 pm (UTC)
"Create a little dysentery among the ranks."

Wtf. *shakes fist*

Anyway, don't worry about it. I tend to roll my eyes at him every once in a while too. He must have been a rly exhausting man.

Edited 2009-06-04 11:43 pm (UTC)
mrslovett: (destroys)
[personal profile] mrslovett wrote:
Jun. 4th, 2009 02:47 am (UTC)
I've seen The Importance of Being Earnest, so the wittiness is what I expected. He does lay it on a little thick, but the more I read the more I see it as cynicism towards how people think they know everything. I think Wilde's wittiness can be seen as something interesting to think about in its own right, or as a way to mock the character who's speaking.

The thing about realism in fiction is that it has to balance with entertainment value. And fiction has to make sense, unlike real life, so it can't be too realistic.
lecari: (Default)
[personal profile] lecari wrote:
Jun. 17th, 2009 12:02 pm (UTC)
The main thing that irritates me is the way he recycles witty lines. (I'm sure most people wouldn't notice, but I love Oscar Wilde and so I notice it EVERYTIME.)


Importance of Being Ernest:
Jack: You don't think there is any chance of Gwendolen becoming like her mother in about a hundred and fifty years, do you, Algy?
Algernon: All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his.

A Woman of no Importance:
Lord Illingworth: People's mothers always bore me to
death. All women become like their mothers. That is their
Mrs Allonby: No man does. That is his.


Woman of no Importance:
Lady Caroline: These American girls carry off all the good matches. Why can't they stay in their own country? They
are always telling us it is the Paradise of women.
Lord Illingworth: It is, Lady Caroline. That is why, like Eve, they are so extremely anxious to get out of it.
Lady Caroline: Who are Miss Worsley's parents?
Lord Illingworth: American women are wonderfully clever in
concealing their parents.

Dorian Grey:
"Who are her people?" grumbled the old gentleman. "Has she got any?"
Lord Henry shook his head. "American girls are as clever at concealing their parents, as English women are at concealing their past," he said, rising to go.
"Is she pretty?"
"She behaves as if she was beautiful. Most American women do. It is the secret of their charm."
"Why can't these American women stay in their own country? They are always telling us that it is the paradise for women."
"It is. That is the reason why, like Eve, they are so excessively anxious to get out of it," said Lord Henry.

There are quite a few lines between "Woman" and Dorian Grey that are similar, eg American dry goods, when good Americans die they go to Paris. Mostly American jokes.

I dunno, it just bugs me when I read them!

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