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Sunday, 24 September 2017

England's Historic Cities: Greenwich - Video

Outstanding Universal Value
Brief synthesis 
Symmetrically arranged alongside the River Thames, the ensemble of the 17th century Queen’s House, part of the last Royal Palace at Greenwich, the palatial Baroque complex of the Royal Hospital for Seamen, and the Royal Observatory founded in 1675 and surrounded by the Royal Park laid out in the 1660s by André Le Nôtre, reflects two centuries of Royal patronage and represents a high point of the work of the architects Inigo Jones (1573-1652) and Christopher Wren (1632-1723), and more widely European architecture at an important stage in its evolution. It also symbolises English artistic and scientific endeavour in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Greenwich town, which grew up at the gates of the Royal Palace, provides, with its villas and formal stuccoed terraces set around St Alphege’s church rebuilt to Hawksmoor’s designs in 1712-14, a setting and approach for the main ensemble.
Inigo Jones’ Queen’s House was the first Palladian building in Britain, and also the direct inspiration for classical houses and villas all over the country in the two centuries after it was built.
The Royal Hospital, laid out to a master plan developed by Christopher Wren in the late 17th century and built over many decades by him and other leading architects, including Nicholas Hawksmoor, is among the most outstanding group of Baroque buildings in England.
The Royal Park is a masterpiece of the application of symmetrical landscape design to irregular terrain by André Le Nôtre. It is well loved and used by residents as well as visitors to the Observatory, Old Royal Naval College and the Maritime Museum.
The Royal Observatory’s astronomical work, particularly of the scientist Robert Hooke, and John Flamsteed, the first Astronomer Royal, permitted the accurate measurement of the earth’s movement and also contributed to the development of global navigation. The Observatory is now the base-line for the world’s time zone system and for the measurement of longitude around the globe.
Criterion (i): The public and private buildings and the Royal Park at Greenwich form an exceptional ensemble that bears witness to human artistic and creative endeavour of the highest quality.
Criterion (ii): Maritime Greenwich bears witness to European architecture at an important stage of its evolution, exemplified by the work of great architects such as Inigo Jones and Christopher Wren who, inspired by developments on the continent of Europe, each shaped the architectural development of subsequent generations, while the Park exemplifies the interaction of people and nature over two centuries. 
Criterion (iv): The Palace, Royal Naval College and Royal Park demonstrate the power, patronage and influence of the Crown in the 17th and 18th centuries and its illustration through the ability to plan and integrate culture and nature into a harmonious whole. 
Criterion (vi): Greenwich is associated with outstanding architectural and artistic achievements as well as with scientific endeavour of the highest quality through the development of navigation and astronomy at the Royal Observatory, leading to the establishment of the Greenwich Meridian and Greenwich Mean Time as world standards. 
The boundary of the property encompasses the Old Royal Naval College, the Queen’s House, Observatory, the Royal Park and buildings which fringe it, and the town centre buildings that form the approach to the formal ensemble. All the attributes of Outstanding Universal Value are included within the boundary of the property.
The main threats facing the property are from development pressures within the town that could impact adversely on its urban grain and from tall buildings, in the setting, which may have the potential to impact adversely on its visual integrity. 
The ensemble of buildings and landscapes that comprise the property preserve a remarkably high degree of authenticity.
The Old Royal Naval College complex, in particular the Painted Hall and Chapel, retains well its original form, design and materials. The Royal Observatory retains its original machinery and its associations with astronomical work. The management of the Old Royal Naval College as a single entity now allows for coordinated conservation of the buildings and surrounding spaces. The Observatory, Queen’s House and its associated high-quality 19th century buildings are all managed as elements of the National Maritime Museum.
The landscape of the Royal Park retains its planned form and design to a degree with some ancient trees still surviving.
The stuccoed slate roofed terraces of the town that form the approach to the formal buildings and the Park retain their function as a commercial and residential centre. The coherence and conservation of buildings within the town is good, although there is a need for some refurbishment and to repair the urban pattern within the property, where it was disrupted by World War II bombing and subsequent reinstatement. 
Protection and management requirements
The UK Government protects World Heritage properties in England in two ways. Firstly, individual buildings, monuments, gardens and landscapes are designated under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 and the 1979 Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act and secondly through the UK Spatial Planning system under the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Acts.
Government guidance on protecting the Historic Environment and World Heritage is set out in the National Planning Policy Framework and Circular 07/09. Policies to protect, promote, conserve and enhance World Heritage properties, their settings and buffer zones can be found in statutory planning documents.
The Mayor’s London Plan provides a strategic social, economic, transport and environmental framework for London and its future development over a period of 20-25 years and is reviewed regularly. It contains policies to protect and enhance the historic environment including World Heritage properties. Further guidance is set out in London’s World Heritage Sites – Guidance on Setting and The London View Management Framework Supplementary Planning Guidance which protects important designated views, some of which focus on the property. The London Borough of Greenwich Unitary Development Plan (UDP) contains guidance to protect and promote the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage property which have been saved and will remain in place until the UDP is replaced by the emerging Local Development Framework (LDF). There are also policies to protect the setting of the World Heritage property included in the current statutory plans for the neighbouring London Boroughs of Lewisham and Tower Hamlets.
The property is protected by a variety of statutory designations: the hospital, Queen’s House and observatory buildings are Grade 1 listed buildings ; statues, railings and other buildings are of all grades; and the surrounding residential buildings of Greenwich town centre lie within a Conservation Area. There are a number of scheduled monuments in the Park which is itself a Grade 1 registered park and garden, and elements of the park are considered important for nature conservation.
The Royal Park is owned, managed and administered by The Royal Parks, a Crown agency. The Queen’s House and associated 19th-century buildings and the Royal Observatory is in the custodianship of the Trustees of the National Maritime Museum. The Old Royal Naval College is in the freehold of Greenwich Hospital, which remains a Crown Naval charity. The buildings are leased to the Greenwich Foundation for the Old Royal Naval College, also a registered charity whose objectives are to conserve, maintain and interpret the buildings for the public. The Royal Courts are leased to Greenwich University and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance to form the Maritime Greenwich University Campus. Greenwich Foundation also retains and maintains a number of key buildings. Commercial activities in the town centre are coordinated by a town centre manager.
The management of the property is guided by a Management Plan approved by all the key partners which is regularly reviewed. A World Heritage Coordinator is responsible for development and implementation of the Management Plan and overall coordination for the whole property; this post reports to a World Heritage Executive Committee made up of key owners and managers within the property. A World Heritage Site Steering Group made up of key local stakeholders and national organisations monitors implementation of the Management Plan.
The history, value and significance of the property is now explained to visitors through Discover Greenwich, a recently opened state-of-the-art visitor centre which helps orientate visitors before entering the property.
The Royal Park, like any designed landscape evolving over time, is vulnerable to erosion of detail and its maintenance and conservation form part of a detailed plan that sets out the design history of the Royal Park, and the rationale for its ongoing maintenance and future restoration of the historic landscape, in particular, the way in which avenues and trees are managed and re-planted.
A number of high-profile annual events are held within the Royal Park, some of which have several millions of spectators worldwide. For all events, appropriate safeguards are put in place to ensure there is no adverse impact on the attributes of Outstanding Universal Value, in particular on the Royal Park trees, on underground archaeology or on the surrounding buildings. The events generate worldwide interest in, and publicity for the World Heritage property.

Click on the picture

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Idiom: Written all over your face

Definition: Your emotions are clearly shown in your expression

Example: Jim’s disappointment was written all over his face. He had wanted that first edition Star Wars comic so badly.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Idiom: In a pickle

Definition: To be in difficulty.

Example: Archie was in a bit of a pickle after asking both Betty and Veronica to the Riverdale Dance. Good ol’ Archie. He never learns…


The pickle referred to here is the saucy, sometimes spicy condiment popular in the UK and India, not the little cucumbers in vinegar more popular in the US. Sorry, Iddy. You’re using the wrong one there!
To be precise, it refers to the stewed fruits that make up a pickle. Like that fruit, the unfortunate individual ‘in a pickle‘ is entirely disoriented and mixed up. It’s closely related to the nineteenth century idiom ‘in a stew’. Same idea. Same meaning.
There is another, more grisly explanation kicking around, but it is thought to be untrue. It claims that the phrase comes from gruesome tales of bodies being pickled for preservation in centuries past. Yes, much more lurid and much more interesting. But not a shred of evidence to support it.
It certainly does not relate to a specific case, that of Admiral Horatio Nelson. Some claim he was pickled after his death at the  the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, so his body could be returned to England. But he wasn’t. To be a stickler about picklers, Nelson wasn’t pickled at all. He was preserved in brandy.
Sometimes the idiom is used in a slightly expanded version: ‘in a pretty pickle‘. Iddy doesn’t think there’s anything pretty about it at all…

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Idiom: On your high horse

Definition :   To be self-righteous, superior, or haughty.

Example: Brenda got on her high horse, and told the ladies how the cupcakes had to be presented for the bake sale, with her pink monstrosities taking centre stage.

Or alternatively


Definition : A command to stop acting superior.

Example: The rest of the ladies told Brenda to get off her high horse and threw her cupcakes away.


In medieval times, a large horse was more commonly referred to as a ‘high horse‘. They were bred for this quality, and the larger or ‘higher’ the horse, the more expensive. Consequently, the size of your horse was an indicator of your rank. So, the wealthy and the aristocratic were literally on ‘high horses‘, looking down upon the common folk.
This has fallen out of fashion in our petrol age, though some folks have substituted four wheel drive vehicles instead.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Idiom: A knight in shining armour

Definition: Somebody who comes to the aid of another, especially a man coming to a woman’s aid.

Example: Belinda’s knight in shining armour came in the form of a vending machine repairman. She’d had her arm caught in the machine for three hours. And she still hadn’t been able to reach that Mars bar.


A knight in shining armour (or armor if in the States) owes its existence to the romanticised ideals of Victorian painters, poets, and novelists. Tales of knights in gleaming suits of armour rescuing fair maidens from all manner of evil proved popular at the time, especially stories of Camelot and King Arthur. Everyone had a go. Le Morte d’Arthur was re-printed after an absence of centuries. Pre-Raphaelite painters like Edward Burne-Jones created images infused with light. Tennyson wrote romantic poetry about Arthur. Even Mark Twain visited the tale in a more satirical form with A Conneticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.
The reality was entirely different. Suits of armour rarely gleamed unless they were royal showpieces. They rusted. Their occupants washed infrequently. In the sunshine, the temperatures soared inside the suit. As it took ages to put armour on, those same occupants could not afford the time to take them off for toilet related activities. You could probably smell the knight coming before you heard the ragged breathing of his overloaded horse.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Friday, 1 September 2017

"Feeling Good" by Ben l'Oncle Soul - Video

Birds flying high you know how I feel 
Sun in the sky you know how I feel 
Reeds driftin' on by you know how I feel

It's a new dawn 
It's a new day 
It's a new life 
For me 
And I'm feeling good

Fish in the sea you know how I feel 
River running free you know how I feel 
Blossom in the tree you know how I feel

It's a new dawn 
It's a new day 
It's a new life 
For me 
And I'm feeling good

Dragonfly out in the sun you know what I mean, don't you know 
Butterflies all havin' fun you know what I mean 
Sleep in peace when the day is done 
And this old world is a new world 
And a bold world 
For meStars when you shine you know how I feel 
Scent of the pine you know how I feel 
Oh freedom is mine 
And I know how I feel

It's a new dawn 
It's a new day 
It's a new life 
For me 
And I'm feeling good

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Diana, the People's Princess | Our Mother - Her Life and Legacy Documentary

 The BBC documentary featured footage from the days after the tragic death of Princess Diana as well as commentary from her sons Prince William and Prince Harry.
The Princes opened up about how they felt being told the news that their mother had passed away following a car crash in France, as well as how the Royal family coped with the events and the week leading up to the funeral. 

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Princess Diana, the late mother of Prince William, second in line to the British throne, and his brother Prince Harry.
Diana played an outsize role in British public life as a humanitarian, a celebrity, a role model and an altogether different kind of royal. Here’s what you need to know about the the Princess of Wales.

Who Was Diana?

Princess Diana was born into the British aristocracy; she gained the title Lady Diana Spencer in 1975 when her father Edward John Spencer inherited the title “Earl Spencer” from his own father.
She did not rise to public prominence, however, until almost 1981, when Prince Charles—then as now first in line to the British throne—courted and eventually married her in July of that year. She took on the title of Princess of Wales, which she was to retain even after the couple’s marriage later ended.
The media interest surrounding their courtship was intense, not least because Charles was 13 years older, and the serious, formal prince seemed mismatched with the much younger woman, who was interested in fashion and pop culture.
Any reservations turned out to be well-founded; the marriage did not work out well. Charles eventually began an affair with an old girlfriend named Camilla Parker-Bowles, now his wife. Diana had her own secret romance with a cavalry officer called James Hewitt.
She and Charles did, however, produce two sons, Princes William and Harry. “I want to bring them up with security,” Diana said of the boys. “I hug my children to death and get into bed with them at night. I always feed them love and affection; it’s so important.”
The constant media pressure and tumultuous relationship took its toll on Diana. She suffered from mental health problems at a time when few in public had much understanding of them, facing down bulimia, an eating disorder, and attempting self-harm.
The couple divorced in 1996, capping years of media frenzy that had hit both she and the royal family hard. But keeping offices in London’s Kensington palace and her title as part of the divorce deal, Diana set about using her profile to raise awareness of humanitarian and charitable causes, notably including the AIDS epidemic around the world at a time when many considered the subject taboo.

How Did She Die?

Diana was on a trip to Paris with Dodi Fayed, son of Mohamed Al Fayed, the sometime owner of Harrods department store, with whom she had had a brief romantic relationship. They had intended to stay one night at the Ritz hotel, which Dodi’s father also owned.
The couple decided to cancel their dinner plans and head to Dodi’s apartment in the city because of enormous paparazzi interest in their whereabouts. The late-notice move meant the hotel’s security manager, Henri Paul, was called back on duty to drive them. Paul, who had finished his shift three hours before, had drunk alcohol before entering the car.
Speeding away from the hotel, where Paul reportedly told waiting media they wouldn’t be able to catch the car, the vehicle entered a nearby tunnel at double the speed limit. Paul lost control, and the car smashed into a support pillar of the tunnel. Unlike Fayed and Paul, Diana did not die instantly, but was pronounced dead early on the morning of August 31. She was 36.
The impact of the death in Britain was explosive. Members of the public descended on Kensington Palace in droves to leave floral tributes, while media kept up an endless stream of coverage. The Royal Family faced criticism after they remained at their Scottish estate, Balmoral, in the days following the death, though their defenders have since pointed to the duty senior royals felt toward William and Harry, who they thought deserved a private place to grieve.
Meanwhile former Prime Minister Tony Blair, then young and freshly elected for the first time earlier that year, used a speech on the death to help make his political name; he referred to Diana as “the people’s princess,” a moniker that has since stuck.

What Is Happening This Week?

William and Harry will mark the death in a low-key ceremony at the garden of Kensington Palace, where they will speak with staff who knew Diana during her time at the palace, and with representatives of some of the charities she supported in life.
And if you happen to be in London, you might want to head to Kensington in the West of the city, to look at the floral tributes that have once again been turning up outside the palace.
The White Garden, the memorial garden Harry and William will visit, is viewable by the public from a walkway, and will be at its best until September.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

England's Historic Cities: Bath | Video

Outstanding Universal Value
Brief synthesis
The city of Bath in South West England was founded in the 1st century AD by the Romans who used the natural hot springs as a thermal spa. It became an important centre for the wool industry in the Middle Ages but in the 18th century under the reigns of George l, ll and III it developed into an elegant spa city, famed in literature and art.
The City of Bath is of Outstanding Universal Value for the following cultural attributes: The Roman remains, especially the Temple of Sulis Minerva and the baths complex (based around the hot springs at the heart of the Roman town of Aquae Sulis, which have remained at the heart of the City’s development ever since) are amongst the most famous and important Roman remains north of the Alps, and marked the beginning of Bath’s history as a spa town.
The Georgian city reflects the ambitions of John Wood Senior (1704-1754), Ralph Allen (1693-1764) and Richard “Beau” Nash (1674-1761) to make Bath into one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, with architecture and landscape combined harmoniously for the enjoyment of the spa town’s cure takers.
The Neo-classical style of the public buildings (such as the Assembly Rooms and the Pump Room) harmonises with the grandiose proportions of the monumental ensembles (such as Queen Square, Circus and Royal Crescent) and collectively reflects the ambitions, particularly social, of the spa city in the 18th century.
The individual Georgian buildings reflect the profound influence of Palladio (1508-1580) and their collective scale, style and the organisation of the spaces between buildings epitomises the success of architects such as the John Woods (elder 1704-1754, younger 1728-1782), Robert Adam (1728-1792), Thomas Baldwin (1750-1820) and John Palmer (1738-1817) in transposing Palladio’s ideas to the scale of a complete city, situated in a hollow in the hills and built to a picturesque landscape aestheticism creating a strong garden city feel, more akin to the 19th century garden cities than the 17th century Renaissance cities.
Criterion (i): Bath’s grandiose Neo-classical Palladian crescents, terraces and squares spread out over the surrounding hills and set in its green valley, are a demonstration par excellence of the integration of architecture, urban design and landscape setting, and the deliberate creation of a beautiful city. Not only are individual buildings such as the Assembly Rooms and Pump Room of great distinction, they are part of the larger overall city landscape that evolved over a century in a harmonious and logical way, drawing together public and private buildings and spaces in a way that reflects the precepts of Palladio tempered with picturesque aestheticism.
Bath’s quality of architecture and urban design, its visual homogeneity and its beauty is largely testament to the skill and creativity of the architects and visionaries of the 18th and 19th centuries who applied and developed Palladianism in response to the specific opportunities offered by the spa town and its physical environment and natural resources (in particular the hot springs and the local Bath Oolitic limestone). Three men – architect John Wood Senior, entrepreneur and quarry owner Ralph Allen and celebrated social shaper and Master of Ceremonies Richard “Beau” Nash – together provided the impetus to start this social, economic and physical rebirth, resulting in a city that played host to the social, political and cultural leaders of the day. That the architects who followed were working over the course of a century, with no master plan or single patron, did not prevent them from contriving to relate each individual development to those around it and to the wider landscape, creating a city that is harmonious and logical, in concord with its natural environment and extremely beautiful.
Criterion (ii): Bath exemplifies the 18th century move away from the inward-looking uniform street layouts of Renaissance cities that dominated through the 15th–17th centuries, towards the idea of planting buildings and cities in the landscape to achieve picturesque views and forms, which could be seen echoed around Europe particularly in the 19th century. This unifying of nature and city, seen throughout Bath, is perhaps best demonstrated in the Royal Crescent (John Wood Younger) and Lansdown Crescent (John Palmer). Bath’s urban and landscape spaces are created by the buildings that enclose them, providing a series of interlinked spaces that flow organically, and that visually (and at times physically) draw in the green surrounding countryside to create a distinctive garden city feel, looking forward to the principles of garden cities developed by the 19th century town planners.
Criterion (iv): Bath reflects two great eras in human history: Roman and Georgian. The Roman Baths and temple complex, together with the remains of the city of Aquae Sulis that grew up around them, make a significant contribution to the understanding and appreciation of Roman social and religious society. The 18th century re-development is a unique combination of outstanding urban architecture, spatial arrangement and social history. Bath exemplifies the main themes of the 18th century neoclassical city; the monumentalisation of ordinary houses, the integration of landscape and town, and the creation and interlinking of urban spaces, designed and developed as a response to the growing popularity of Bath as a society and spa destination and to provide an appropriate picturesque setting and facilities for the cure takers and social visitors. Although Bath gained greatest importance in Roman and Georgian times, the city nevertheless reflects continuous development over two millennia with the spectacular medieval Abbey Church sat beside the Roman temple and baths, in the heart of the 18th century and modern day city.
Remains of the known Roman baths, the Temple of Sulis Minerva and the below grounds Roman archaeology are well preserved and within the property boundary as are the areas of Georgian town planning and architecture, and large elements of the landscape within which the city is set.  Despite some loss of Georgian buildings prior to inscription, the Georgian City remains largely intact both in terms of buildings and plan form. An extensive range of interlinked spaces formed by crescents, terraces and squares set in a harmonious relationship with the surrounding green landscape survive. The relationship of the Georgian City to its setting of the surrounding hills remains clearly visible. As a modern city, Bath remains vulnerable to large-scale development and to transport pressures, both within the site and in its setting that could impact adversely on its garden city feel and on views across the property and to its green setting.
The hot springs, which are the reason for the City’s original development, are of undoubted authenticity. The key Roman remains are preserved, protected and displayed within a museum environment, and the Roman Baths can still be appreciated for their original use. The majority of the large stock of Georgian buildings have been continuously inhabited since their construction, and retain a high degree of original fabric. Repairs have largely been sympathetic, informed by an extensive body of documentation, and aided by a programme of restoration in the late twentieth century. More vulnerable is the overall interaction between groups of buildings in terraces, crescents and squares and views to the surrounding landscape that contributed to the City’s visual harmony. There is a need for new developments to respect the planning of the Georgian terraces, to respect the scale and rhythm of its structures, and to contribute to picturesque views.
Protection and management requirements
The UK Government protects World Heritage properties in England in two ways. Firstly, individual buildings, monuments and landscapes are designated under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 and the 1979 Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act, and secondly through the UK Spatial Planning system under the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Acts.
Government guidance on protecting the Historic Environment and World Heritage is set out in National Planning Policy Framework and Circular 07/09. Policies to protect, promote, conserve and enhance World Heritage properties, their settings and buffer zones are also found in statutory planning documents.
The Bath and North East Somerset Local Plan contains a core policy according to which the development which would harm the qualities justifying the inscription of the World Heritage property, or its setting, will not be permitted. The protection of the surrounding landscape of the property has been strengthened by adoption of a Supplementary Planning Document, and negotiations are progressing with regard to transferring the management of key areas of land from the Bath and North East Somerset Council to the National Trust.
The City of Bath World Heritage Site Steering Group was established as a non-executive committee consisting of representatives from 14 organisations with interest in the site. It has an independent chairperson. Members represent national government, Bath and North East Somerset Council elected members and officers, surrounding Parish Councils, heritage bodies, and the city business group, resident’s associations, both universities and the tourism company.
The Steering Group oversees the production and implementation of the World Heritage Site Management Plan. This plan aims to address the key tensions between development and conservation of the city-wide property.
The main pressures currently facing the site are large-scale development and the need for improved transport. The need for development to be based on an understanding of the distinctiveness and Outstanding Universal Value of the Georgian City continues to be guided by the policy framework listed above. A UNESCO/ICOMOS Mission assessed the development at Bath Western Riverside in 2008 and concluded that the Outstanding Universal Value and Integrity would not be adversely impacted by the phase one development. Subsequent phases are planned but not yet timetabled.
Transport improvements are based principally around a bus-based network and pedestrianisation, as outlined in the Management Plan.
Tourism is managed by Bath Tourism Plus, an independent company. The Destination Management Plan has been updated by a ‘Destination Marketing Strategy’ for Bath, which aims to promote growth in value of tourism rather than in volume.

Monday, 28 August 2017

«Alike»: How Society Destroys Your Creativity, In An Award-Winning Pixar-Like Short Film

Modern society tells us to do well in school, work as hard as we can, and eventually teach our kids to do the same. It’s an endless cycle that doesn’t exactly leave much room for creativity. This short film is encouraging people to look at things differently, and is striking a cord.
Alike, a Pixar-like affair by Madrid-based animators Daniel Martínez Lara and Rafa Cano Méndez, is a 7-minute lesson on what happens to your life when creativity is drowned out by the daily grind. It’s also about parenthood, and the importance of letting kids to forge their own journeys. The critically-acclaimed short was made entirely with Blender, an open-source 3D rendering program, and is dedicated “to our families, for helping us not to lose our colour.”
As Canadian journalist Graydon Carter once said, “it’s a rare moment when we take a break from the tribulations of the daily rat race to reflect on assumptions and values that we casually accept as gospel.” Take one of these moments for yourself, and give Alike a go.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

«The Picture of Dorian Gray» - Infographic & Plot Summary

The Picture of Dorian Gray is set in 19th-century England and focuses on the title character as he passes from innocence and beauty to immorality and death.
When the novel opens Lord Henry Wotton is visiting his friend Basil Hallward. Basil is painting Dorian Gray's portrait. Henry admires the painting, but Basil worries he let too much of his feelings for Dorian seep into the image. They go into the studio, where Henry chats with Dorian as the young man poses for his portrait. Henry praises Dorian's beauty. When Dorian sees the finished portrait, he realizes that as he ages his portrait will remain young and beautiful. He wishes he could stay young and that the portrait would grow older in his place. The next day Henry visits his uncle and learns Dorian's family background: his mother was beautiful, but she ran away with a poor lover. Thus Dorian will inherit a lot of money.
A month passes. Attending performances at a theater in a poor section of London, Dorian falls in love with an actress he sees there—a young woman named Sibyl Vane. The two barely know each other. Sibyl doesn't even know Dorian's real name, calling him only "Prince Charming." Nevertheless, Dorian tells his friends they will marry. Sibyl is very happy. Her brother James is suspicious: he doesn't like the large class difference between the pair. James also worries about Sibyl because he's about to leave the country to seek his fortune.
Henry and Basil go with Dorian to watch Sibyl act, but her performance is terrible. Sibyl tells Dorian she used to act to escape life, but now that her life is wonderful she no longer can act as she formerly did. Unfortunately, much of what Dorian loved about her was her acting, so he breaks off their engagement. When he gets home he finds a new line in Basil's portrait: cruelty is now visible in the painted face.
After he leaves, Sibyl commits suicide. Dorian is horrified when he learns about her death the next day. However, Henry talks him into seeing it as something in the past, a learning experience.
Because of the change in the painting, Dorian locks it away where no one will see it. After he has the painting moved, Dorian reads a note from Henry. It includes results of the inquest into Sibyl's death, along with a French novel. Dorian reads this book all day, and he becomes highly influenced by it.
Dorian enters into an extended period of self-indulgence as years pass, and people tell stories about his activities. Some of these are simply sensual, like spending time and money on gems and music. Others are scandalous, immoral, and illegal. However, few people really believe these stories because Dorian appears to retain his youthful innocence and beauty.
On the evening before his 38th birthday, Dorian runs into Basil. Basil warns Dorian about the scandalous stories circulating about him. Basil says he wishes he could be sure the stories were untrue, but that to do that he would have to see Dorian's soul. He laments that "only God can do that." Dorian says he keeps a diary of his soul, and he leads his bewildered friend to see the portrait. Basil is horrified at the sight. Dorian reminds Basil how he wished the painting would age instead of him. They talk about what happened and what it means. Basil concludes Dorian's sins must be terrible indeed for the painting to look like that. Suddenly overcome by anger and loathing, Dorian stabs Basil to death then contacts Alan Campbell, a scientist, with whom he used to be very close. Dorian blackmails Campbell into getting rid of Basil's body.
Late that night Dorian goes to an opium den. While he's there, a woman recognizes him and calls him "Prince Charming." A sailor who overhears this address follows Dorian out onto the street. It is James Vane, who wants to kill Dorian for causing his sister's death so many years before. However, when Dorian shows the man his supernaturally youthful face, James concludes it couldn't be Dorian, apologizes, and lets him go. Once he's gone the woman from the opium den tells James it really is the same man.
A week later Dorian faints when he sees James Vane looking in the window during a party. Terrified, Dorian stays home for three days before joining a group of hunters to shoot game. As he walks with a friend, the man shoots at a hare. He kills it—also fatally wounding a man hiding in the bushes. Later the gamekeeper tells Dorian that the dead man wasn't one of his beaters. A beater is an individual who beats at shrubbery—thus startling wild game into leaving their cover and giving hunters a clear shot at their prey. Curious, Dorian inspects the body and finds it is James Vane.
Dorian decides to change his life. However, Henry declares that Dorian should remain as he is, saying he is perfect. Dorian walks home. Once there he thinks about all the lives he has ruined. He resolves again to change. Since he recently chose not to seduce a young woman, he thinks to check his portrait to see if it reflects that decision. He finds the old sins are still visible, along with a new one: hypocrisy. Dorian decides to destroy the painting.
Dorian stabs his portrait, cries out, and falls to the floor. Although his servants hear the shout, they have no key to the locked room. Finally, they enter through a window and find Basil's portrait of Dorian, once again showing Dorian's face as young and beautiful. A withered body lies near the painting. No one can tell who it is. Finally checking the rings on the corpse's hands, they identify the dead man as Dorian Gray.