Está todo mundo falando do centenário da Cecília Meireles. Mas este também ano também faz 110 anos que "O retrato de Dorian Gray", de Oscar Wilde, foi publicado em formato de livro, em 1891. É meu romance favorito. A história do jovem que, de um momento para outro, pára de envelhecer e vê um magnífico quadro pintado por seu amigo degenerescer em seu lugar é fascinante. Ela foi publicada originalmente na "Lippincott's Magazine" em 1890, mas no ano seguinte ganhou seis capítulos extras e foi lançada como volume. Histórias curiosas o cercam. Por exemplo, para acertar a publicação, Wilde almoçou com o editor da revista junto com Arthur Conan Doyle, o criador de Sherlock Holmes, que publicou na mesma revista o conto "O signo dos quatro", por sinal também minha história predileta do amigo do dr. Watson. Sabe-se ainda que Wilde modificou a data e a idade de Dorian no livro quando ele está prestes a cometer um crime, para evitar que associassem o personagem a seu criador. Também retirou um trecho em que ironizava o hábito de sua mãe, Lady Wilde, de fazer minibiografias dos convidados em seu salon antes de apresentá-los a alguém. O livro foi duramente criticado pela puritana imprensa britânica da época, que viu na história de Wilde uma apologia disfarçada à homossexualidade. Mas ele comporta muitas facetas e seu teor sombrio, seus diálogos inesquecíveis (alguns dos quais Wilde repetiu em suas comédias, mais tarde) e o próprio fascínio da trama o tornaram leitura obrigatória de lá para cá. Aqui vão alguns trechos deliciosos (no original mesmo, que pude tirar da Rede, pois estou sem tempo de copiar a tradução):

"People are afraid of themselves, nowadays. They have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty that one owes to one's self. Of course, they are charitable. They feed the hungry and clothe the beggar. But their own souls starve, and are naked. Courage has gone out of our race. Perhaps we never really had it. The terror of society, which is the basis of morals, the terror of God, which is the secret of religion--these are the two things that govern us. And yet I believe that if one man were to live out his life fully and completely, were to give form to every feeling, expression to every thought, reality to every dream -- I believe that the world would gain such a fresh impulse of joy that we would forget all the maladies of mediaevalism, and return to the Hellenic ideal-- to something finer, richer than the Hellenic ideal, it may be."

"Beauty, real beauty, ends where an intellectual expression begins. Intellect is in itself a mode of exaggeration, and destroys the harmony of any face. The moment one sits down to think, one becomes all nose, or all forehead, or something horrid. Look at the successful men in any of the learned professions. How perfectly hideous they are! Except, of course, in the Church. But then in the Church they don't think. A bishop keeps on saying at the age of eighty what he was told to say when he was a boy of eighteen, and as a natural consequence he always looks absolutely delightful."

"There are few of us who have not sometimes wakened before dawn, either after one of those dreamless nights that make us almost enamoured of death, or one of those nights of horror and misshapen joy, when through the chambers of the brain sweep phantoms more terrible than reality itself, and instinct with that vivid life that lurks in all grotesques, and that lends to Gothic art its enduring vitality, this art being, one might fancy, especially the art of those whose minds have been troubled with the malady of reverie. Gradually white fingers creep through the curtains, and they appear to tremble. In black fantastic shapes, dumb shadows crawl into the corners of the room and crouch there. Outside, there is the stirring of birds among the leaves, or the sound of men going forth to their work, or the sigh and sob of the wind coming down from the hills and wandering round the silent house, as though it feared to wake the sleepers and yet must needs call forth sleep from her purple cave. Veil after veil of thin dusky gauze is lifted, and by degrees the forms and colours of things are restored to them, and we watch the dawn remaking the world in its antique pattern. The wan mirrors get back their mimic life. The flameless tapers stand where we had left them, and beside them lies the half-cut book that we had been studying, or the wired flower that we had worn at the ball, or the letter that we had been afraid to read, or that we had read too often. Nothing seems to us changed. Out of the unreal shadows of the night comes back the real life that we had known. We have to resume it where we had left off, and there steals over us a terrible sense of the necessity for the continuance of energy in the same wearisome round of stereotyped habits, or a wild longing, it may be, that our eyelids might open some morning upon a world that had been refashioned anew in the darkness for our pleasure, a world in which things would have fresh shapes and colours, and be changed, or have other secrets, a world in which the past would have little or no place, or survive, at any rate, in no conscious form of obligation or regret, the remembrance even of joy having its bitterness and the memories of pleasure their pain."

Se quiserem acessar o livro todo, ele está na web. Em inglês, bem aqui.

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