Tag Archives: oscar wilde

The Picture of John Gray: for Wilde fans in London

One of my favourite books has always been ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ by Oscar Wilde. It’s the only novel Wilde ever wrote and has such a preposterous idea at its centre that it could almost be science fiction.

For those who don’t know anything of Dorian Gray, it is about a beautiful man who never ages in person, yet his portrait – hidden away in an attic – gets older in place of the man changing. All Dorian’s sin and hedonism is absorbed by the portrait – he can live the most extreme life and yet remain young and attractive.

Oscar Wilde was actually infatuated by a man called John Gray – they had a brief relationship in 1889. Wilde used Gray’s name for the main character in the novel, but the actual relationship ended and nothing more was heard of the real Gray.

A new play is set to open next month at the Red Lion Theatre in Islington, London, titled ‘The Picture of John Gray’. Written by CJ Wilmann the play aims to explore the real relationship between Wilde and Gray and what happened to the real John Gray.

I really loved this book and even the modern update by Will Self ‘Dorian’  is a great read. In that version, the work of art is a web installation rather than a portrait. When I read that book, I registered the URL for the art installation as featured in the novel. I was surprised the publisher had not reserved it and I left it pointing at my personal home page.

Eventually I tired of annoyed Will Self fans emailing me asking why I had any right to own the URL featured in the novel. I let my ownership of the URL expire. I don’t know who bought it after me, but perhaps I should have offered it to the publisher directly.

It’s a shame that I’m almost certainly going to miss this new play as I live in Brazil and have no plans to be in London during August. In fact, I’m actually planning to be touring the Pantanal in August. However, I’m sure the script will be available online soon.

If you are in London, do go and let me know what the play is like! 🙂 And don’t forget to check out this song about Dorian written by my friend Enda Mulloy and his band, The BibleCode Sundays…

Details of the play, including the venue and tickets, can be found here.

Grave of Oscar Wilde

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Enter the eBook

I used to have thousands of books, my house had a bedroom that was effectively a library. Then I moved from the UK to Brazil and I had to give away hundreds and hundreds of them just because they were too expensive to ship.

I still kept a fair number though, and I enjoy visiting book stores and purchasing and reading real books.

But I just bought a Kindle and started downloading some books to it. Why?

There is a very practical problem living overseas. The bookstores in São Paulo carry very few books in English, and the ones that are sold are from the best-seller list – not exactly what I might purchase. I have gone to Amazon and eBay and purchased books and paid for them to be posted, but when I recently bought a new hardback, which was about £25 for the book and postage, I thought seriously about how much easier this would all be with a Kindle.

I can get a book in seconds, I can pick any book I want, and even recently published books are available for just a few pounds. Many classics are available entirely free.

So the first authors I downloaded were John Wyndham, Julian Barnes, and Oscar Wilde… I’m sure that I will keep on buying regular books now and then, when I really want the physical artefact, but the experience of wanting a book then having it in seconds does change the process of acquiring books.

I’d never wait until I got to a record store to buy an album any more, so why wait to buy a book?

Kindling