While we should all be used to the month of February having the least amount of days in it, February book club was upon us before we knew it (along with about 16" of snow!).
This month we read the classic novel Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. And while we new it was considered "scandalous" for its time, I don't know that any of us were prepared to find it relative to today's world or, more importantly, to enjoy it as much as we did.
Now, that's not to say that this book was splendid or captivating the entire way through. We all admitted that there were some parts not to our liking. One member (Rachel) had a great point that there were parts where it was like we were eavesdropping on a conversation that went on and on and on about nothing but nonsense. So true! But the overall story definitely made up for it in the end.
Let me first explain the history of this book. It is known for aiding in the conviction of Oscar Wilde in 1895 for homosexual offenses. He received two years in prison as a result. TWO YEARS for writing this book and having an unapproved lifestyle. And now it is considered a classic that should and must, in the literary world, be read by all. It is amazing what 100 years can do...
On the flip side, it has been over 100 years, and we are still obsessed with beauty and trying to stay young forever. There are more ways now (injections, diets, creams and lotions, and who all knows what else) to try and stay young than there are people to try them. And why? Well, the obvious answer is who likes wrinkles? Certainly not me, but seriously. Have we all gone too far? This was the case for Dorian Gray. It became his obsession. As it has for so many in today's world. And anyone or everyone dealing with this issue should really read this book. And when you get to the very, very end of this book, if that doesn't make you stop and think twice, then read it again!
It would not be a book club without much laughter and lot's of discussion, and this month was no exception. In fact, we even had a prop... One of our members (Renee) had actually been to Oscar Wilde's tomb in Paris (see below). How great was that to have her explain her experience! People are to leave roses and/or to kiss the tomb for good luck and for love. Yes, I have already tried to express that right on over here...no luck. Those Parisians are pretty fond of their history!!
There are really two great things about this book - how relative it still is over a 100 years later and the vast array of poignant quotes that are still popular today. In fact, there are too many quotes to list, but I've pointed out some of our favorites.
Quotes from the book:
"...beauty, real beauty, ends where an intellectual expression begins." said Lord Henry - This sparked quite the conversation at dinner. I mean, who defines beauty? And this suggests that one cannot be both smart and beautiful. Really??? With six wonderfully smart (they are in book club after all) and beautiful women discussing this topic, we were the life of the restaurant, no doubt!
"There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about." - said Lord Henry
"She behaves as if she was beautiful. Most American women do. It is the secret of their charm."
"Punctuality is the thief of time."
"Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing."
"Men marry because they are tired; women, because they are curious: both are disappointed." - said Lord Henry
"It is better to be beautiful than to be good. But it is better to be good than to be ugly." - said Lord Henry. And this would be the premise of the book and why Dorian Gray is willing to give up his soul to remain youthful and beautiful.
"To be in love is to surpass one's self." - it is this quote that gives the reader hope.
Favorite quote from the meeting:
"We're going to Urban Dictionary the s*!% out of this book" - said by our Renee. God love you girl. So funny. One member was discussing how she kept translating the verbiage into our modern day lingo. We, of course, began immediately translating quotes. I'd list them out, but I don't think I can repeat all of it and be considered PG-13 still! We were clearly revved up by this point.
In closing, another great classic read and marked off our list. Someone (Renee) pointed out that reading classics aren't as hard as to read as we might think. It is so much easier to discover the themes, purpose, symbolism, and moral lesson than in new books. Why is that I ask? Have we lost the need or desire to have a purpose behind the book? I don't think so. Maybe we just cannot see what is right in front of us and writing in our own words must be so obvious that we miss it. More reasons to continue to pick up those classic novels.
Oh, and where did we meet this time? We ate at a great new restaurant in Downtown Rogers - The Rail. Pizza was delicious as were the breadsticks. We'd all recommend checking it out!
218 S 1st St