Have you been affected by Dorian?

Oscar Wilde
The portrait of Dorian Gray
Oscar Wilde

 << zurück weiter >> 

Chapter ninth

As he was having breakfast the next morning, Basil Hallward stepped into the room.

"I am so glad to meet you, Dorian," he said gravely. “I was there last night and I was told you were at the opera. Of course I knew that couldn't be. But I wish you had left a word about where you really had gone. I had a terrible night, half afraid that one tragedy might have been followed by a second. You should have telegraphed me as soon as you found out. I happened to read it in a late edition of the Globe that I picked up at the club. I rushed here immediately and was unhappy not to find you. I can't tell you how much it hurts me. I know what you must suffer. But where have you been Did you go to see her mother? For a moment I thought about looking for you there. The address was in the newspaper. Somewhere on Euston Road, isn't it? But I was afraid of entering a pain that I could not help. The poor woman! What kind of condition does it have to be in? And her only child too! What did she say to all of this? "

"My dear Basil, how should I know?" Asked Dorian Gray, who was taking small sips of a pale yellow wine from a delightful bulbous Venetian glass adorned with gold pearls and looking extremely indignant. “I was at the opera. You should have come too. I met Lady Gwendolen, Harry's sister. We were with her in the box. She is a lovely creature; and the Patti sang heavenly. Do not talk about hideous things! If you don't talk about a thing, it has never been. Only the expression, says Harry, gives things reality. I would like to add that she was not the mother's only child. There is still a son there, a great fellow, I think. But he's not in the theater - sailor or something like that. And now tell me something about yourself. What do you do?"

"You were at the opera?" Said Hallward. He spoke very softly, his tone painfully tight. “You went to the opera while Sibyl Vane was lying on her death bed in a dirty house? You can talk to me about other charming women and about the heavenly song of Patti, before the girl you loved is given over to the rest of the grave in which she is supposed to sleep? Man, man, what horrors await her little white body! "

"Stop it, Basil, I don't want to hear that!" Cried Dorian, jumping up. “You don't have to talk to me about things that have happened. What is done, is done. What's over is over. Leave the past behind! "

"You mention the past yesterday?"

“What does the passage of time have to do with it? Only superficial people take years to get rid of a sensation. A person in control of himself can put an end to pain as easily as he can find pleasure. I don't feel like being exposed to my feelings. I want to use it, enjoy it and control it. "

“Dorian, that is dreadful! It changed you something completely. You look exactly like the wonderful young man who came to my studio every day to sit down for his picture. But back then you were simple, natural, and loving. You were the most unspoiled human child in the whole world. I don't know what has come over you now. You speak as if you had no heart and no mercy in your chest. It's all Harry's influence, I see it. "

The youth blushed, went to the window and gazed for a few moments at the green, sparkling, sun-drenched garden. “I owe Harry a great deal,” he replied at last, “more than you do. It was you who taught me vanity. "

"I am punished for it, Dorian - or one day I will be punished for it."

"I don't know what you mean, Basil!" He exclaimed, and turned around. "I do not know what you want. What do you want?"

"I want the Dorian Gray I painted again," said the artist sadly.

"Basil," replied the youth, and went up to him and put his hand on his shoulder. "Yesterday when I found out that Sibyl Vane had killed himself ..."

“Killed yourself! Great god! Shouted Hallward, looking at him in horror.

“My dear Basil! You don't suppose it was a mean coincidence, do you? Of course she killed herself. ”The older man buried his face in his hands. "How awful," he whispered, and a shudder ran through him.

“No,” said Dorian Gray, “there is nothing terrible about it. It is one of the great romantic tragedies of our time. As a rule, people from the theater lead the most trivial lives. They are good husbands or faithful wives or something else that is boring. You know what I mean - philistine virtue and the like. How different was Sibyl! She lived her most beautiful tragedy. She was always a hero. On the last night she played - the night you saw her - she played badly because she had come to know love as reality. When she got to know her unreality, she died like Julia died. She fled back to the land of art. There is something of martyrdom about them. Her death has all of the pathetic uselessness of martyrdom, all of its wasted beauty. But as I said, you mustn't think that I didn't suffer. If you had come at a certain moment yesterday - maybe at five thirty or three quarters of six - you would have found me in tears. Even Harry, who was here, who actually brought me the news, has no idea what I went through. I suffered unspeakably. Then it evaporated. I cannot repeat a sensation. Nobody can, except for the sentimental. And you are very unjust, Basil. You come here to comfort me. That's very sweet of you. You find me comforted and you get angry. Is that your sympathy You remind me of a story Harry told me about a philanthropist who for twenty years endeavored to correct a grievance or to have an unjust law changed - I don't remember exactly. Finally he succeeded, and nothing can be greater than his disappointment. He had nothing at all to do, almost died of boredom and became a consummate misanthropist. And besides, dear old Basil, if you really want to comfort me, teach me to forget what happened or to look at it from the right artistic point of view. Wasn't it Gautier who liked the ›Consolation des arts‹ wrote? I remember once in your studio I found a small parchment-bound book and came across the delightful word. Well, I'm not like the young man you told me about when we were in Marlow, who used to say that yellow atlas could comfort you in all the misfortunes of life. I love beautiful things that can be touched and picked up. Old brocade, green bronze, lacquer work, carved ivory, an exquisite interior, lavish opulence, there is much to be had from all of this, but the artistic state of mind that they create, or at least reveal, applies to me even more. To be a spectator of your own life, as Harry says, is to escape the suffering of life. I know you are surprised that I am speaking to you like that. You didn't notice how I was developing. I was a boy when you met me. I became a man. I have new passions, new thoughts, new ideas. I am a different person, but you mustn't love me less for that. I am changed, but you must always be my friend. Of course, I am very fond of Harry. But I know that you are better than him. You are not stronger you fear life too much - but you are better. And how happy we were together! Do not leave me, Basil, and do not argue with me. I am what I am. There is nothing more to say. "

The painter was strangely moved. The youth was infinitely dear to him, and his appearance had been the great turning point in his art. He couldn't bear the thought of reproaching him any further. After all, his indifference was probably just a passing mood. There was so much in him that was good, so much that was noble.

“Well, Dorian,” he said at last with a sad smile, “from today on I will not say anything more about the sad matter to you. I just hope your name is not mentioned in connection with her. The inquest will take place this afternoon. Are you loaded? "

Dorian shook his head, and an unpleasant sensation formed on his face at the word "investigation". Everything of that sort had something raw and mean about it. "You don't know my name," he replied.

"But didn't she know?"

“She only knew my first name, and I'm sure she didn't say it to anyone. She once told me that everyone is very curious to know who I am, and she inevitably tells everyone that my name is Prince Wunderhold. That was nice of her. You have to make me a drawing of Sibyl, Basil. I would like to have something more from her than a few kisses and a few painful, pathetic words. "

“I'll try to do something if you want it. But you have to come to me and sit down to myself again. I can't get on without you. "

“I can never sit for you again, Basil. It is impossible! ”He exclaimed, and stepped back.

The painter stared at him. "Dear boy, what nonsense you are talking about!" He cried. 'Are you saying that you don't like the picture I painted of you? Where is it? Why did you put the umbrella in front of it? Let me see it! It's the best work that ever came out of my hands. Take the umbrella away, Dorian! It is a shame that your servant hides my work in such a way. I noticed as soon as I came in that the room looked different. "

“My servant has nothing to do with it, Basil. You don't think I'll let him see what my room looks like, do you? Sometimes he arranges my flowers, but nothing more. No; I did it myself. The picture had too much light. "

“Too much light! Certainly not, my dear. It has a splendid space. I want to see it. ”And Hallward approached the corner of the room.

A cry of terror came from Dorian Gray's lips, and he threw himself between the painter and the screen. “Basil,” he said, looking very pale, “you mustn't look at it. I do not wish it! "

“Don't look at my own picture! You're kidding. Why shouldn't I see it? ”Shouted Hallward, laughing.

“If you try to look at it, Basil, I give you my word of honor that I will never speak to you again as long as I live. I'm not joking. I am not giving any explanation and you will not ask for it. But don't forget, if you touch this screen, it's all over between us! "

Hallward was thunderous. He looked at Danube Gray with the greatest astonishment. He had never seen him like this before. The youth was indeed pale with anger. His hands were clenched and his pupils looked like wheels of blue fire. He was trembling all over.


"Do not speak!"

'But what's the matter? Of course I don't look at it if you don't want it, ”he said coldly, turned on his heel and went over to the window. “But really, it sounds like madness that I shouldn't see my own work, especially where I'm going to exhibit it in Paris in the fall. I will probably have to varnish it beforehand and therefore have to see it one day. So why not today? "

“Exhibit it! You want to put it on display? ”Cried Dorian Gray, and a strange feeling of fear came over him. Should his secret be shown to the world? Should people be allowed to gaze at the secret of his life? It was impossible. Something had to happen - he didn't know what - immediately.

"Yes; I don't think you mind. Georges Petit is in the process of putting my best pictures together for a special exhibition on Rue de Seze to open in the first week of October. The picture will only be gone a month. I should think you could easily do without it for so long. The truth is, you won't be in town at all. And if you always hide it behind a screen, you can't make much of it. "

Dorian Gray ran a hand over his forehead, there were drops of sweat on it. He felt that he was on the verge of terrible danger. “A month ago you told me you never wanted to exhibit it. Why did you disagree? You humans, who make such beings out of consequence, have just as much moods as others. The only difference is that your moods make no sense. You can't have forgotten that you solemnly assured me that nothing in the world should make you send it to an exhibition. You told Harry exactly the same thing. ”He paused suddenly and his eyes lit up. He remembered Lord Henry once, half in earnest, half jokingly, saying to him: 'If you want a strange quarter of an hour, let Basil tell you why he doesn't want your picture on display. He told me why, and it was a revelation to me. 'Yes, maybe Basil had his secret too. He wanted to try and ask him.

“Basil,” he said, stepping up to him and looking straight into his face, “each of us has a secret. Let me know yours and tell yourself mine. What was the reason you refused to exhibit my picture? "

The painter shivered. “Dorian, if I told you that, you might not have loved me as much as you do now and you would be laughing at me. I couldn't stand either. If you don't want me to see your portrait again, I'll be satisfied. I can still look at you If you want to hide the best work I've ever done from the world, I'll be fine. Your friendship is more to me than any celebrity. "

"No, Basil, you must tell me," urged Dorian Gray. "I think I have a right to know." His fear had given way and curiosity had taken its place. He was determined to discover Basil Hallward's secret.

"Let's sit down, Dorian," said the painter, looking confused. "Let's sit down. And now answer me a question. Did you notice anything strange about the picture? - Something that you probably didn't notice at first, but that suddenly revealed itself to you? "

"Basil!" Cried the youth, clutching the armrests of his chair with trembling hands and staring at him with wild, horrified eyes.

“I see you noticed. Do not speak! Wait till you hear what I have to say. Dorian, from the moment I met you, your appearance had the most extraordinary influence on me. You ruled over me, over my soul, my brain and all my strength. For me you became the visible embodiment of the invisible ideal that we artists cannot get rid of like a delicious dream. I adored you I got jealous of everyone you spoke to. I wanted you all to myself. I was only happy when I was with you. If you were away from me, you still lived in my art and were there ... Of course I never let you know anything about it - it would have been impossible. You would not have understood, I hardly understood it myself. I only knew that I was face to face with perfection and that the world had opened up wonderfully to my eyes - too wonderful perhaps, for there is danger in such mad adoration - the The risk that it will stop and the risk that it will last ... Weeks and weeks passed and I lost myself more and more in you. Then came a new turn. I painted you as Paris in sparkling armor and as Adonis in hunting robes with a flashing spear. Wreathed with heavy lotus flowers, you sat at the bow of Hadrian's boat and gazed at the green, murky waters of the Nile. You leaned over the quiet pond of a forest landscape in Greece and saw the miracle of your own image in the silent silver of the water. And everything had been as art is supposed to be, unconscious, ideal and distant. One day - one fateful day, I sometimes think, I decided to paint a wonderful picture of you as you really are, not in the costume of yesteryear, but in your own clothes and your own time.I cannot say whether it was the realism of the task or the mere wonder of your own appearance that stood before me so directly without a haze or veil. But I know as I was working on it, every layer of paint I put on seemed to reveal my secret. I was afraid that others might find out the idolatry I did with you. I felt, Dorian, that I had said too much, that I had put too much of myself into it. At that time I decided never to have the picture on display. You seemed a little concerned; but at that time you didn’t know what it meant to me. Harry, whom I spoke to, laughed at me. But that didn't bother me. When the picture was finished and I was sitting alone in front of him, I felt that I was right ... Well, after a few days it left my studio, and as soon as I was rid of the unbearable charm of its presence, it seemed to me that I was foolish was that I wanted to find something in it, except that you are very beautiful and that I can paint well. Even now I cannot help but feel that it is a mistake to believe that the glow that one feels in creation is ever manifest in the body of the work that one has created. Art is always more abstract than we think. Shape and color tell us something about shape and color - nothing more. Often it seems to me that art hides the artist far more than it reveals him. And so when this proposal was made to me from Paris, I decided that your portrait should be the centerpiece of my exhibition. It never occurred to me that you could refuse permission. I see now that you are right. The picture may not be shown. You must not be angry with me, Dorian, for what I have told you. I said it once to Harry and I repeat it: You were made to be adored. ”Dorian Gray took a deep breath.

The color returned to his cheeks and a smile played on his lips. The danger was over; for this time he was saved. But he could not refrain from feeling infinite compassion for the painter, who had made this very strange confession for him, and he wondered whether he himself could ever be so dominated by the personality of a friend. Lord Henry had a charm about being very dangerous. But that was all. He was too smart and too cynical to really be loved. Would there ever be a person he adored so strangely? Was that one of the things life kept ready for him?

'It is very astonishing to me, Dorian,' said Hallward, 'that you should have seen that in the picture. Did you really see it? "

"I saw something about him," he replied, "something that struck me as very strange."

"And now you don't mind my looking at the picture anymore?"

Dorian shook his head. “You don't have to ask me, Basil. It would not be possible for me to see you standing in front of the picture. "

"But another time?" "Never."

“Well, maybe you're right. And now goodbye, Dorian. You were the only person in my life who had any real influence on my art. All the best I have done, thank you. Ah! you don't know what it cost me to tell you all that I said. "

“My dear Basil,” said Dorian, “what did you tell me? Nothing more than that you feel that you admire me too much. That's not very flattering. "

“It wasn't meant to be flattery - it was an avowal. Now that I've put it down, I feel like I've lost something. Perhaps one should never express one's worship in words. "

"It was a confession and a disappointment."

“Yes, but what did you expect, Dorian? You didn't see anything else in the picture, did you? Was there nothing else to be seen in him? "

"No; there was nothing else to be seen. Why do you ask? But you shouldn't talk about worship. That is foolishness. You and I are friends, Basil, and we always want to be. "

"You have Harry as a friend," said the painter sadly.

"Oh, Harry," said the young man, laughing brightly. “Harry spends his days saying things that are incredible and his nights doing things that are unlikely. Just the kind of life I want to lead. But I don't think I would go to Harry if something bothered me. I'd rather go to you, Basil. "

"You will sit with me again?" «

“You are destroying my existence as an artist with your refusal, Dorian. Nobody has ever met two ideals in life. Few have met one. "

“I can't explain it to you, Basil, but I must never sit down for you again. There is something fatal about a person's portrait. It has its own life in it. I will come to you and have tea with you - that will be just as nice. "

"More beautiful for you, I'm afraid," said the painter in a painful tone. “And now goodbye. I'm sad that you won't let me see the picture again. But I can't help it. I completely understand how you feel. "

When he left the room, Dorian Gray smiled. Poor Basil! how little he suspected the real reason! And how strange it was that, almost as if by accident, instead of revealing his own secret, he had succeeded in snatching his own from his friend! How much did this strange confession explain to him! The painter's absurd flashes of jealousy, his wild devotion, his extravagant hymns of admiration, the moods of strange silence - he understood all of this now, and he became sad. It seemed to him something tragic about a friendship that was so colored by romance. He sighed and rang the doorbell. The picture had to be hidden under all circumstances. He could not expose himself to such a danger of discovery again. It had been maddening of him to leave the picture for even an hour in a room that any of his friends could come into.

 << zurück weiter >>