★ ★ ★ ★
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde | July 1890 | Lippincott’s Monthly | Paperback w/ complete works $24.99
Enthralled by his own exquisite portrait, Dorian Gray exchanges his soul for eternal youth and beauty. Influenced by his friend Lord Henry Wotton, he is drawn into a corrupt double life, indulging his desires in secret while remaining a gentleman in the eyes of polite society. Only his portrait bears the traces of his decadence.
Confession: I’d never read anything by Oscar Wilde before this.
SHAME. I know, I know. Shun the nonbeliever and so forth. But I just didn’t know! You don’t know what you don’t know, y’know?
I was a bit trepidatious about starting it because, to my everlasting frustration, I haven’t particularly enjoyed a lot of Victorian literature in the past. This whole Classics Club lark as done much to cure me of this folly, of course, but I’ll forever be a little wary of 19th c. novels.
I was surprised at just how subversive this story was, even for modern readers. It isn’t hard to imagine the Victorian outrage it provoked upon publication. It also isn’t hard to understand why Dorian Gray (the book) and Dorian Gray (the character) were both reflective of Wilde’s renegade soul yet tied to his downfall, along with his other provoking writings.
Though the story itself was engaging, I think my favorite part of the whole thing was the short preface where Wilde goes on a brief, rather poetic and extremely quotable rant as to the nature of art and beauty and morality.
“We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely. All art is quite useless.”
— Oscar Wilde
- Official (?) author website
- Oscar Wilde Society
- Author profile from the British Library
- Author profile from the Poetry Foundation
- Articles about Oscar Wilde from The Guardian
- Articles about Oscar Wilde from The New York Times
Publication information: Wilde, Oscar. The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2008. Print
Source: Purchased for personal use
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