The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeWritten in his distinctively dazzling manner, Oscar Wilde’s story of a fashionable young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty is the author’s most popular work. The tale of Dorian Gray’s moral disintegration caused a scandal when it ﬁrst appeared in 1890, but though Wilde was attacked for the novel’s corrupting inﬂuence, he responded that there is, in fact, “a terrible moral in Dorian Gray.” Just a few years later, the book and the aesthetic/moral dilemma it presented became issues in the trials occasioned by Wilde’s homosexual liaisons, which resulted in his imprisonment. Of Dorian Gray’s relationship to autobiography, Wilde noted in a letter, “Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world thinks me: Dorian what I would like to be—in other ages, perhaps.”
Picture of Dorian Gray
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Dorian sits for several portraits, and Basil often depicts him as an ancient Greek hero or a mythological figure. When the novel opens, the artist is completing his first portrait of Dorian as he truly is, but, as he admits to his friend Lord Henry Wotton, the painting disappoints him because it reveals too much of his feeling for his subject. Dorian arrives at the studio, and Basil reluctantly introduces him to Lord Henry, who he fears will have a damaging influence on the impressionable, young Dorian. Worried that these, his most impressive characteristics, are fading day by day, Dorian curses his portrait, which he believes will one day remind him of the beauty he will have lost. In a fit of distress, he pledges his soul if only the painting could bear the burden of age and infamy, allowing him to stay forever young. Overcome by her emotions for Dorian, Sibyl decides that she can no longer act, wondering how she can pretend to love on the stage now that she has experienced the real thing.
The Picture of Dorian Gray is the story of one beautiful, innocent young man's seduction, moral corruption, and eventual downfall. We meet our three central characters at the beginning of the book, when painter Basil Hallward and his close friend, Lord Henry Wotton, are discussing the subject of Basil's newest painting, a gorgeous young thing named Dorian Gray. Basil and Henry discuss just how perfectly perfect Dorian is—he's totally innocent and completely good, as well as being the most beautiful guy ever to walk the earth. Lord Henry wants to meet this mysterious boy, but Basil doesn't want him to; for some reason, he's afraid of what will happen to Dorian if Lord Henry digs his claws into him. However, Lord Henry gets his wish—Dorian shows up that very afternoon, and, over the course of the day, Henry manages to totally change Dorian's perspective on the world.
According to Dorian, Basil is
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Despite that censorship, The Picture of Dorian Gray offended the moral sensibilities of British book reviewers, some of whom said that Oscar Wilde merited prosecution for violating the laws guarding public morality. In response, Wilde aggressively defended his novel and art in correspondence with the British press, although he personally made excisions of some of the most controversial material when revising and lengthening the story for book publication the following year. The longer and revised version of The Picture of Dorian Gray published in book form in featured an aphoristic preface—a defence of the artist's rights and of art for art's sake—based in part on his press defences of the novel the previous year. The content, style, and presentation of the preface made it famous in its own right, as a literary and artistic manifesto. In April , the publishing firm of Ward, Lock and Company , who had distributed the shorter, more inflammatory, magazine version in England the previous year, published the revised version of The Picture of Dorian Gray. The only novel written by Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray exists in several versions: the magazine edition in 13 chapters , with important material deleted before publication by the magazine's editor, J. Stoddart ; the "uncensored" version submitted to Lippincott's Monthly Magazine for publication also in 13 chapters , with all of Wilde's original material intact, first published in by Harvard University Press; and the book edition in 20 chapters.
The novel, the only one written by Wilde, had six additional chapters when it was released as a book in The story begins in the art studio of Basil Hallward, who is discussing a current painting with his witty and amoral friend Lord Henry Wotton. Henry also points out that beauty and youth are fleeting, and Dorian declares that he would give his soul if the portrait were to grow old and wrinkled while he remained young and handsome. Basil gives the painting to Dorian. A few weeks later, Dorian tells Henry that he has fallen in love with an actress, Sibyl Vane, because of her great beauty and acting talent.