I think that Oscar Wilde is one of the most interesting writers of the XX century because of his style and the themes that he treats. I knew his aphorisms before his books, so I became interested and I decided to read “The picture of Dorian Gray” and I liked it very much, because of the enormous quantity of aphorisms in it.
“The picture of Dorian Gray” created a scandal because of its themes. It was considered immoral. A year after the first publication, in 1891, Wilde added a preface to reply to the critical reviews and to provide a particular key for the interpretation of the work. The preface follows the general style of Wilde, because it consists of a series of aphorisms. Wilde used to insert aphorisms in every work and in every speech, and this trait of him is still famous. The writer was able to express difficult concepts using short sentences but very meaningful ones. Wilde used aphorisms to treat a wide range of topics, from love and women to religion and morality.
The preface to the book contains aphorisms aimed at a reading of the novel that keeps in mind that the writer is only an artist and has no moral duty. Wilde is keen on stressing that the writer’s task is to create art, writing about virtues and vices without forgetting negative points. A significant aphorism of the preface is: “There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.”
“The picture of Dorian Gray” contains many aphorisms spread out in the pages and pronounced by Lord Henry Watton, who influenced Dorian. The aphorisms of the book concern youth and its beauty, and beauty in general. As Wilde said, it seems like Wotton summarized the whole world just in a sentence. His phrases cannot be considered aphorisms because they’re linked to the narrated sequences, but they express philosophical concepts about human nature in all its gradations. It is true that Lord Wotton doesn’t seem to have any regard for morality, but this happens just because in order to say the truth, sometimes it is necessary to tell something immoral. Due to Dorian’s portrait, which will always have his youth and beauty, Lord Henry told an aphorism that will influence the whole of Dorian’s life. “Your beauty won’t last forever. There is absolutely nothing in the world but youth!” This sentence convinces Dorian to never grow old.
A sentence which I like very much is “Every impulse we try to kill stays in our mind and poisons us.” This means that we should not repress our desires although they could be immoral, because we will keep on thinking about them and regrets will slowly kill us.
There’s an aphorism from “Lady Windermere’s Fan” that says “I can resist everything except temptation.”, and this phrase contains the idea of aestheticism.