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<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library-The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde


the other arts seemed to be but a preparation. Fashion, by which
what is really fantastic becomes for a moment universal, and
Dandyism, which, in its own way, is an attempt to assert the
absolute modernity of beauty, had, of course, their fascination for
him. His mode of dressing, and the particular styles that from time
to time he affected, had their marked influence on the young
exquisites of the Mayfair balls and Pall Mall Club windows, who
copied him in everything that he did, and tried to reproduce the
accidental charm of his graceful, though to him only half-serious

For, while he was but too ready to accept the position that was
almost immediately offered to him on his coming of age, and
found, indeed, a subtle pleasure in the thought that he might really
become to the London of his own day what to imperial Neronian
Rome the author of the “Satyricon” once had been, yet in his
inmost heart he desired to be something more than a mere arbiter
elegantiarum, to be consulted on the wearing of a jewel, or the
knotting of a necktie, or the conduct of a cane. He sought to
elaborate some new scheme of life that would have its reasoned
philosophy and its ordered principles, and find in the
spiritualizing of the senses its highest realization.

The worship of the senses has often, and with much justice, been
decried, men feeling a natural instinct of terror about passions and
sensations that seem stronger than themselves, and that they are
conscious of sharing with the less highly organized forms of
existence. But it appeared to Dorian Gray that the true nature of the
senses had never been understood, and that they had remained
savage and animal merely because the world had sought to starve
them into submission or to kill them by pain, instead of aiming at
making them elements of a new spirituality, of which a fine instinct
for beauty was to be the dominant characteristic. As he looked back
upon man moving through History, he was haunted by a feeling of
loss. So much had been surrendered! and to such little purpose!
There had been mad wilful rejections, monstrous forms of self-
torture and self-denial, whose origin was fear, and whose result
was a degradation infinitely more terrible than that fancied
degradation from which, in their ignorance, they had sought to
escape, Nature, in her wonderful irony, driving out the anchorite
to feed with the wild animals of the desert and giving to the hermit
the beasts of the field as his companions.

Yes: there was to be, as Lord Henry had prophesied, a new
Hedonisim that was to re-create life, and to save it from that harsh,
uncomely Puritanism that is having, in our own day, its curious
revival. It was to have its service of the intellect, certainly; yet, it
<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library-The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

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