The Picture of Dorian GrayBook - 2003
'A triumph of execution ... one of the best narratives of the "double life" of a Victorian gentleman' Peter Ackroyd
Oscar Wilde's alluring novel of decadence and sin was a succès de scandale on publication. It follows Dorian Gray who, enthralled by his own exquisite portrait, 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 depravity. This definitive edition includes a selection of contemporary reviews condemning the novel's immorality.
Edited with an Introduction and notes by ROBERT MIGHALL
From the critics
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"The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame. That is all."
"Oh, brothers! I don't care for brothers. My elder brother won't die, and my younger bothers seem to do nothing else."
"When I like someone immensely I never tell their names to anyone. It is like surrendering a part of them. I have grown to love secrecy. It seems to be the one thing that can make modern life mysterious or marvellous to us. The commonest thing is delightful if one only hides it."
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Written and set in 19th century England, this gothic psychological thriller is a classic horror story, refreshingly free of the graphic blood and gore that seems to be the standard horror theme these days.
The story begins with Dorian Gray, a young man of extraordinary good looks, having his portrait painted by his friend Basil Hallward. In the midst of posing for the portrait enters Lord Henry, a pompous and self-important character that convinces an innocent Dorian that his looks are his most important characteristic and that he will have tremendous power over people because of them. He tells Dorian that he should enjoy them while they last as like everything else they will fade with time and so will the power that comes with them.
Taking his words seriously, a naïve and melancholy Dorian wishes that his looks would last forever and instead of time ravaging his face and body, his portrait would age instead, leaving him forever young. As the story moves along and to Dorian’s increasing dismay, he starts noticing that his wish has been granted… with a twist. The portrait is noticeably growing more hideous as Dorian’s behaviour becomes progressively more callous and contemptible.
Though dated, the story is fast-paced, well written and an easy read. Its lighter side pokes fun at the aristocracy and their total uselessness while its darker side reveals the level of shallowness and depravity of human nature.
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