UNKNOWN avec DORIAN GRAY
In this celebrated work, his only novel, Wilde forged a devastating portrait of the effects of evil and debauchery on a young aesthete in late-19th-century England. Combining elements of the Gothic horror novel and decadent French fiction, the book centers on a striking premise: As Dorian Gray sinks into a life of crime and gross sensuality, his body retains perfect youth and vigor while his recently painted portrait grows day by day into a hideous record of evil, which he must keep hidden from the world. For over a century, this mesmerizing tale of horror and suspense has enjoyed wide popularity. It ranks as one of Wilde's most important creations and among the classic achievements of its kind.
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."
"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
From the Publisher
The Broadview Editions series is an effort to represent the ever-changing canon of literature in English by bringing together texts long regarded as classics with valuable, lesser-known literature. Newly type-set and produced on high-quality paper in trade paperback format, the Broadview Editions series is a delight to handle as well as to read.
Each volume includes a full introduction, chronology, bibliography, and explanatory notes along with a variety of documents from the period, giving readers a rich sense of the world from which the work emerged.