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Colette Colligan
Associate Professor of English

Affiliation with UVic English: Undergraduate Student

Special Book: The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde

When did you first read this book: Lisa Surridge’s Victorian Novels class, back in 1995.

Which sentence from this book has special significance for you?

“It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.”

What does the sentence mean to you?

I am fascinated by Wilde’s many counter-intuitive aphorisms. The close reader will notice that they reappear in his writing, made new in the mouths of different characters. This new mouth was also sometimes his own as he was wont to plagiarise from his own work. W.B. Yeats wrote that he “had never before heard a man talking with perfect sentences, as if he had written them overnight with labour and yet all spontaneous.” One wonders how many speakers art finally mirrors.

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