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


had seemed to him trivial and of no import. And so he had begun
by vivisecting himself, as he had ended by vivisecting others.
Human life-that appeared to him the one thing worth
investigating. Compared to it there was nothing else of any value.
It was true that as one watched life in its curious crucible of pain
and pleasure, one could not wear over one’s face a mask of glass,
nor keep the sulphurous fumes from troubling the brain and
making the imagination turbid with monstrous fancies and
misshapen dreams. There were poisons so subtle that to know their
properties one had to sicken of them.

There were maladies so strange that one had to pass through them
if one sought to understand their nature. And, yet, what a great
reward one received! How wonderful the whole world became to
one! To note the curious hard logic of passion, and the emotional
coloured life of the intellect-to observe where they met, and where
they separated, at what point they were in unison, and at what
point they were at discord-there was a delight in that. What matter
what the cost was? One could never pay too high a price for any

He was conscious-and the thought brought a gleam of pleasure
into his brown agate eyes-that it was through certain words of his,
musical words said with musical utterance, that Dorian Gray’s soul
had turned to this white girl and bowed in worship before her. To
a large extent the lad was his own creation. He had made him
premature. That was something. Ordinary people waited till life
disclosed to them its secrets, but to the few, to the elect, the
mysteries of life were revealed before the veil was drawn away.
Sometimes this was the effect of art, and chiefly of the art of
literature, which dealt immediately with the passions and the
intellect. But now and then a complex personality took the place
and assumed the office of art, was indeed, in its way, a real work
of art, Life having its elaborate masterpieces, just as poetry has, or
sculpture, or painting.

Yes, the lad was premature. He was gathering his harvest while it
was yet spring. The pulse and passion of youth were in him, but he
was becoming selfconscious. It was delightful to watch him. With
his beautiful face, and his beautiful soul, he was a thing to wonder
at. It was no matter how it all ended, or was destined to end. He
was like one of those gracious figures in a pageant or a play, whose
joys seem to be remote from one, but whose sorrows stir one’s
sense of beauty, and whose wounds are like red roses.

Soul and body, body and soul-how mysterious they were! There
was animalism in the soul, and the body had its moments of
spirituality. The senses could refine, and the intellect could
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