Dorian Gray Character Quotes

"You poisoned me with a book once. I should not forgive that. Harry, promise me that you will never lend that book to anyone. It does harm."
"My dear boy, you are really beginning to moralize. You will soon be going about like the converted, and the revivalist, warning people against all the sins of which you have grown tired. You are much too delightful to do that…As for being poisoned by a book, there is no such thing as that. Art has no influence upon action. It annihilates the desire to act. It is superbly sterile. The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame."

– Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray, Chapter 19. At this point in the story Dorian is troubled by his conscience and has vowed to live a better life. Thinking back over his past twenty years, he challenges Lord Henry, blaming him for corrupting him with a book. This is a reference to the infamous "yellow book" that Henry gifted to him. It is believed to be Joris-Karl Huysman’s novel À Rebours ("Against Nature"). The story follows a 19th century Parisian man who seeks "all the passions and modes of thought that belonged to every century except his own." Dorian is seduced by the young man’s search for pleasure and when first he read the story saw his own life in it: "the whole book seemed to him to contain the story of his own life, written before he had lived it." Henry is a committed hedonist and naturally doesn’t accept Dorian’s accusation. He believes that art doesn’t influence action and is neither moral nor immoral. A book that is called immoral merely holds a mirror up to the world’s shame.