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


was never to accept any theory, or system that would involve the
sacrifice of any mode of passionate experience. Its aim, indeed, was
to be experience itself, and not the fruits of experience, sweet or
bitter as they might be. Of the asceticism that deadens the senses,
as of the vulgar profligacy that dulls them, it was to know nothing.
But it was to teach man to concentrate himself upon the moments
of a life that is itself but a moment.

There are few of us who have not sometimes wakened before
dawn, either after one of those dreamless nights that make us
almost enamoured of death, or one of those nights of horror and
misshapen joy, when through the chambers of the brain sweep
phantoms more terrible than reality itself, and instinct with that
vivid life that lurks in all grotesques, and that lends to Gothic art
its enduring vitality, this art being, one might fancy, especially the
art of those whose minds have been troubled with the malady of
reverie. Gradually white fingers creep through the curtains, and
they appear to tremble. In black fantastic shapes, dumb shadows
crawl into the corners of the room, and crouch there. Outside, there
is the stirring of birds among the leaves, or the sound of men going
forth to their work, or the sigh and sob of the wind coming down
from the hills, and wandering round the silent house, as though it
feared to wake the steepers, and yet must needs call forth sleep
from her purple cave. Veil after veil of thin dusky gauze is lifted,
and by degrees the forms and colours of things are restored to
them, and we watch the dawn remaking the world in its antique
pattern. The wan mirrors get back their mimic life. The flameless
tapers stand where we had left them, and beside them lies the half-
cut book that we had been studying, or the wired flower that we
had worn at the ball, or the letter that we had been afraid to read,
or that we had read too often. Nothing seems to us changed. Out of
the unreal shadows of the night comes back the real life that we
had known. We have to resume it where we had left off, and there
steals over us a terrible sense of the necessity for the continuance of
energy in the same wearisome round of stereotyped habits, or a
wild longing, it may be, that our eyelids might open some morning
upon a world that had been refashioned anew in the darkness for
our pleasure, a world in which things would have fresh shapes and
colours, and be changed, or have other secrets, a world in which
the past would have little or no place, or survive, at any rate, in no
conscious form of obligation or regret, the remembrance even of
joy having its bitterness, and the memories of pleasure their pain.

It was the creation of such worlds as these that seemed to Dorian
Gray to be the true object, or amongst the true objects, of like; and
in his search for sensations that would be at once new and
<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library-The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

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