So a couple of posts back I wrote about the connection with the surname, “Gray/Grey” and the connotation behind the characters. Seems I overlooked one very important character.
Dorian Gray, the OG (Original Gray).
How could I forget the infamous hedonist who sold his soul to keep his beauty and youth?
It was the only novel written by Oscar Wilde and it was not well -received in Victorian London. With its themes of hedonism and homoeroticism, the criticisms of the novel were harsh and dismissive. It caused quite a scandal in those times. (I wonder how it would fare today. I wonder if it would be displayed near the impulse items at Target, just like the new Grey book. Hmmmm….)
Here’s an interesting fact. The book, The Picture of Dorian Gray, was actually based on a real character, a “friend” of Oscar Wilde’s named, John Gray. And Wilde only changed the first name…not protecting the identity of the not-so-innocent, Gray. Being an avid researcher, I found the truth behind this tale is actually stranger than fiction. I never saw this coming.
Here’s a synopsis/comparison of the two Grays:
Dorian was described as beautiful and breathtaking. John was described as an “Adonis” of a man.
Dorian was wealthy and traveled in high social circles. John was of the middle-class, in south-east London.
Both characters led a decadent lifestyle, seeking pleasure with full abandon.
Dorian Gray ultimately kills himself by stabbing his decaying portrait, which in turn becomes him in the flesh and he dies.
For a brief time, John Gray enjoys the infamy of his doppleganger, Dorian, and it is reported that he actually began signing his name, Dorian. He then repents, leaving his Decadent Movement affiliations behind in London, goes to Rome and eventually is ordained as a priest.
Yes, this is how the story…the true story…goes. In summary….one of Oscar Wilde’s lovers is so handsome that he writes about him and his hedonistic lifestyle in a novel, not changing the last name. Said lover enjoys the infamy and then has a complete about-face, and repents. But he is not satisfied to merely repent from his days of debauchery…Instead he packs up, moves to Rome and spends years becoming a priest.
To tie things up (no bondage reference intended) it seems that the real John Gray, was aptly named. He embraced his darkness for part of his life and then turned towards the light. Making him, his life…its own shade of gray.
And ladies and gentlemen, that’s why he’s the real OG.