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The Picture of Dorian Gray (Wordsworth Classics)

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9781853260155: The Picture of Dorian Gray (Wordsworth Classics)
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With an Introduction and Notes by John M.L. Drew, University of Buckingham.

Wilde's only novel, first published in 1890, is a brilliantly designed puzzle, intended to tease conventional minds with its exploration of the myriad interrelationships between art, life, and consequence. From its provocative Preface, challenging the reader to believe in 'art for art's sake', to its sensational conclusion, the story self-consciously experiments with the notion of sin as an element of design.

Yet Wilde himself underestimated the consequences of his experiment, and its capacity to outrage the Victorian establishment. Its words returned to haunt him in his court appearances in 1895, and he later recalled the 'note of doom' which runs like 'a purple thread' through its carefully crafted prose.

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A lush, cautionary tale of a life of vileness and deception or a loving portrait of the aesthetic impulse run rampant? Why not both? After Basil Hallward paints a beautiful, young man's portrait, his subject's frivolous wish that the picture change and he remain the same comes true. Dorian Gray's picture grows aged and corrupt while he continues to appear fresh and innocent. After he kills a young woman, "as surely as if I had cut her little throat with a knife", Dorian Gray is surprised to find no difference in his vision or surroundings. "The roses are not less lovely for all that. The birds sing just as happily in my garden."

As Hallward tries to make sense of his creation, his epigram-happy friend Lord Henry Wotton encourages Dorian in his sensual quest with any number of Wildean paradoxes, including the delightful "When we are happy we are always good, but when we are good we are not always happy." But despite its many languorous pleasures, The Picture of Dorian Gray is an imperfect work. Compared to the two (voyeuristic) older men, Dorian is a bore, and his search for ever new sensations far less fun than the novel's drawing-room discussions. Even more oddly, the moral message of the novel contradicts many of Wilde's supposed aims, not least "no artist has ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style." Nonetheless, the glamour boy gets his just deserts. And Wilde, defending Dorian Gray, had it both ways: "All excess, as well as all renunciation, brings its own punishment."

Review:

Oscar Wilde just got a little wilder. --Marcia Kaye Toronto Star 15th July 2012

The Uncensored Picture of Dorian Gray is the latest edition of Wilde's only novel, but it is also the first. Editor Nicholas Frankel has followed the manuscript Wilde submitted to Lippincott's magazine in early 1890. Frankel poured over the original typescript and about 3,000 handwritten words Wilde added to it, restoring subtle but important romance between the three lead characters... The effect is not radical...but it is noticeable, and the book is more satisfying for his efforts... Frankel's uncensored version is closest to what Wilde intended before editors and hostile critics intervened, and it is also the most pleasurable to read... The Picture of Dorian Gray is a haunting, beautiful and important novel. -- Michael Ruffles Bangkok Post 20120910 Now, for the first time, we can read the version that Wilde intended...Both the text and Nicholas Frankel's introduction make for fascinating reading. --Sadie Stein, Paris Review, 27th June 2012

The Picture of Dorian Gray is just as spine tingling, relevant, and original now as it was in 1891. From the compelling story to the musicality of the prose to the symbolism, The Uncensored Picture of Dorian Gray is a great read. --Catherine Ramsdell, PopMatters, 8th October 2012

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9781906420178: The Picture of Dorian Gray: Classic Story of Vanity (Elite Illustrated)

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