Book Beginnings… ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’

Book beginnings on Fridays is hosted by Rose City Reader and it is a chance to share the first sentence or so of a book you’ve reading, about to read or recently read.

I’m reading a couple of ARCs at the moment, so I’d potentially get into trouble if I shared those, so today I’m giving you the start of Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’.

“The studio was filled with the rich odour of roses, and when the light summer wind stirred amidst the trees of the garden, there came through the open door the heavy scent of the lilac, or the more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn.

From the corner of the divan of Persian saddle-bags on which he was lying, smoking, as was his custom, innumerable cigarettes, Lord Henry Wotton could just catch the gleam of the honey-sweet and honey-coloured blossoms of a laburnum, whose tremulous branches seemed hardly able to bear the burden of a beauty so flamelike as theirs; and now and then the fantastic shadows of birds in flight flitted across the long tussore-silk curtains that were stretched in front of the huge window, producing a kind of momentary Japanese effect, and making him think of those pallid, jade-faced painters of Tokyo who, through the medium of an art that is necessarily immobile, seek to convey the sense of swiftness and motion. The sullen murmur of the bees shouldering their way through the long unmown grass, or circling with monotonous insistence round the dusty gilt horns of the straggling woodbine, seemed to make the stillness more oppressive. The dim roar of London was like the bourdon note of a distant organ.”

As an aesthete, Wilde’s books are often filled with beautifully lyrical descriptions of settings, people’s appearances and their clothes. As you can see, ‘Dorian Gray’ is no exception. This first chapter proceeds to introduce Basil Hallwood, an accomplished artist, and his friend and dandy, Lord Henry Wooton. Dorian Gray himself is yet to make an appearance, although Basil’s portrait of him is present in the room.

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone else’s book beginning. Put a link in the comment so that I can check them out. Have a great week of reading!

Cover of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

5 thoughts on “Book Beginnings… ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’

  1. That is such a great book beginning. Thanks for sharing. Here is one of my favourites. “I still remember the day my father took me to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books for the first time. It was early summer 1945, and we walked through the streets of Barcelona trapped beneath ashen skies as dawn poured River Rambla de Santa Monica in a wreath of liquid copper.” from The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron. Doesn´t it just make you want to read more? It sets the story up so well, the time, the place, the atmosphere.

    Liked by 1 person

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