March Meet-up: Compare & Contrast The Picture of Dorian Gray & Doctor Faustus

Please join me in March when we compare & contrast two classic works.  Hope to see you all then! Carissa

The Picture of Dorian GrayOscar Wilde's tale of a notorious Victorian libertine and his life of evil excesses. Though Dorian's hedonistic indulgences leave no blemish on his ageless features, the painted portrait imbued with his soul proves a living catalogue of corruption, revealing in its every new line and lesion the manifold sins he has committed. Desperate to hide the physical evidence of his unregenerate spirit, Dorian will stop at nothing--not even murder--to keep his picture's existence a secret.

A scandalous story when it was first published in 1890, Wilde's novel is acknowledged a landmark of literature today and a tale emblematic of its time. 



Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (1854 – 1900) was an Irish writer and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s. Today he is remembered for his epigrams, his only novel (The Picture of Dorian Gray), his plays, and the circumstances of his imprisonment and early death.

The first version of The Picture of Dorian Gray was published as the lead story in the July 1890 edition of Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, along with five others.  

Reviewers immediately criticised the novel's decadence and homosexual allusions, The Daily Chronicle for example, called it "unclean,” "poisonous,” and "heavy with the mephitic odours of moral and spiritual putrefaction."  Wilde vigorously responded writing to the Editor of the Scots Observer, in which he clarified his stance on ethics and aesthetics in art – "If a work of art is rich and vital and complete, those who have artistic instincts will see its beauty and those to whom ethics appeal more strongly will see its moral lesson."  He nevertheless revised it extensively for book publication in 1891: six new chapters were added, some overtly decadent passages and homo-eroticism excised, and a preface was included consisting of twenty two epigrams, such as "Books are well written, or badly written. That is all."  Contemporary reviewers and modern critics have postulated numerous possible sources of the story, a search Jershua McCormack argues is futile because Wilde "has tapped a root of Western folklore so deep and ubiquitous that the story has escaped its origins and returned to the oral tradition."  Wilde claimed the plot was "an idea that is as old as the history of literature but to which I have given a new form".  

The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, commonly referred to simply as Doctor Faustus, is a play by Christopher Marlowe, based on the Faust story, in which a man sells his soul to the devil for power and knowledge. Doctor Faustus was first published in 1604, eleven years after Marlowe's death and at least twelve years after the first performance of the play.

 Christopher Marlowe (1564 – 1593) was an English dramatist, poet and translator of the Elizabethan era. Marlowe was the foremost Elizabethan tragedian of his day. He greatly influenced William Shakespeare, who was born in the same year as Marlowe and who rose to become the pre-eminent Elizabethan playwright after Marlowe's mysterious early death. Marlowe's plays are known for the use of blank verse, and their overreaching protagonists. 

A warrant was issued for Marlowe's arrest on 18 May 1593. No reason was given for it, though it was thought to be connected to allegations of blasphemy—a manuscript believed to have been written by Marlowe was said to contain "vile heretical conceipts". On 20 May he was brought to the court to attend upon the Privy Council for questioning. There is no record of their having met that day, however, and he was commanded to attend upon them each day thereafter until "licensed to the contrary." Ten days later, he was stabbed to death by Ingram Frizer. Whether the stabbing was connected to his arrest has never been resolved.



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  • Carissa

    Thank you to Katie and Jeni for co-hosting! I really appreciate you guys stepping up and couldn't continue the group without y'all!!! Sorry to have missed this one.

    1 · March 26, 2014

  • Martha

    I'm sorry to have missed this, Great choices. Re. WWI book suggestion: Farewell to Arms

    March 26, 2014

  • Pamela

    not feeling so hot today so wanted to avoid making anyone ill

    March 25, 2014

  • Janelle B

    Feeling really, REALLY, under the weather right now. Lost my voice, sorry I have to cancel. See everyone in April :(

    March 25, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    We have a calendar conflict at home so I'm unable to attend, sorry! For ww1, an easy pick, straight up war novel would be all quiet on the western front, which is commonly taught now but wasn't when I was in hs (I taught it). Whatever is selected, could I suggest adding some poetry by soldiers from the war?

    1 · March 24, 2014

  • Andrea P.

    I have a rehearsal and sadly won't be able to join you!! Have a great time!!

    March 21, 2014

    • Carissa

      Awww, and this is your pick! We will miss you!

      March 21, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sorry to have to cancel. My brother will be in town. Will catch the April one. Have a great time!

    1 · March 19, 2014

  • Marilyn

    Dang! A catering tasting just got booked for this evening. Hate missing this discussion. I adore 'Dorian Gray' and was looking forward to sharing.

    1 · March 19, 2014

  • Nellie

    Bummer, I got off the wait list and confirmed in. But now I can't go. Still reading the books anyhow, and look forward to the next one!

    1 · February 24, 2014

  • Brittany

    Hi, is there any way that the number of participants can be increased and we can break into 2 separate groups for at least part of the discussion? It seems like 20 people is a lot of people for one discussion anyway, but I'm not familiar with the format of the meetup. I'm just starting to read them and am really excited to come!

    Thanks,

    Brittany

    January 23, 2014

    • Carissa

      Hi Brittany-

      January 23, 2014

    • Carissa

      Most meet- ups have an avg of 9-12 people attend. Everyone from the wait list will make it in since there is a high turn-over the week before the meet-up. You should plan to attend! Look forward to meeting you!

      January 23, 2014

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