Packaged in handsome and affordable trade editions, Clydesdale Classics is a new series of essential literary works. From the musings of literary geniuses like Mark Twain in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to the striking personal narrative of Harriet Jacobs in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, this new series is a comprehensive collection of our literary history through the words of the exceptional few.
The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde’s masterpiece and lone novel, has endured as a significant piece of literature partly due to its philosophical nature and artful prose, and partly because of the stir it caused upon its initial publication. Published originally in 1890 in Lippincott’s Magazine, The Picture of Dorian Grayoften deemed by Wilde’s contemporaries to be “indecent”tells the story of an attractive young man eponymous with the title who desires to be eternally young. Dorian is the subject of a portrait by a painter named Basil Hallward, who deems Gray’s beauty to be inconceivably great. Rather than having to age himself, young and egotistical Dorian longs for the painting to age instead so that he can remain young and beautiful. When he sells his soul in exchange for eternal youtha concept Wilde derived from the German legend of FaustDorian begins a life of vice and debauchery with its sole aim being pleasure. Meanwhile, the painting documents each of his sins within its appearance. When Dorian confronts the painting again with Hallward, a slew of unfortunate events unfold.
Abundant with rich, philosophical themes and commentary, The Picture of Dorian Gray is a classic tale that warns its readers of the dangers that come with narcissism, self-indulgence, and ignorance.
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About the Author
Oscar Wilde is one of the most popular writers of the late nineteenth century. Born in 1854 to Anglo-Irish intelligentsia parents, Wilde was educated at a very young age, quickly becoming trilingual and interested in philosophy. Throughout his career, he wrote many essays, plays, and short stories but only one novel: The Picture of Dorian Gray, which was criticized by contemporary reviewers for its homosexual undertones as well as its themes of self-indulgence and immorality. Although a failure during its time, the novel was later heralded as a classic. His other well-known works include Lady Windmere’s Fan, De Profundis, and The Importance of Being Earnest. At the peak of his career, Wilde was arrested on the grounds of “gross indecency with men,” tried, and sentenced to two years in prison. Upon his release, he was exiled from Britain and never returned. He died in Paris in 1900, impoverished and alone, at the young age of forty-six.
Date of Birth:October 16, 1854
Date of Death:November 30, 1900
Place of Birth:Dublin, Ireland
Place of Death:Paris, France
Education:The Royal School in Enniskillen, Dublin, 1864; Trinity College, Dublin, 1871; Magdalen College, Oxford, England, 1874
Read an Excerpt
Dorian made no answer, but passed listlessly in front of his picture and turned towards it. When he saw it he drew back, and his cheeks flushed for a moment with pleasure. A look of joy came into his eyes, as if he had recognized himself for the first time. He stood there motionless and in wonder, dimly conscious that Hallward was speaking to him, but not catching the meaning of his words. The sense of his own beauty came on him like a revelation. He had never felt it before. Basil Hallwards's compliments has seemed to him to be merely the charming exaggerations of friendship. He had listened to them, laughed at them, forgotten them. They had not influenced his nature. Then had come Lord Henry Wotton with his strange panegyric on youth, his terrible warning of its brevity. That had stirred him at the time, and now, as he stood gazing at the shadow of his own loveliness, the full reality of the description flashed across him. Yes, there would be a day when his face would be wrinkled and wizen, his eyes dim and colourless, the grace of his figure broken and deformed. The scarlet would pass away from his lips, and the gold steal from his hair. The life that was to make his soul would mar his body. He would become dreadful, hideous, and uncouth.
As he thought of it, a sharp pang of pain struck though him like a knife, and made each delicate fibre of his nature quiver. His eyes deepened into amethyst, and across them came a mist of tears. He felt as is a hand of ice had been laid upon his heart.
'Don't you like it?' cried Hallward at last, stung a little by the lad's silence, not understanding what it meant.
'Of course he likes it,' said Lord Henry. 'Who wouldn't like it? It is one of the greatest things in modern art. I will give you anything you like to ask for it. I must have it.'
'It is not my property, Harry.'
'Whose property is it?'
'Dorian's, of course,' answered the painter.
'He's a very lucky fellow.'
'How sad it is!' murmured Dorian Gary, with his eyes still fixed upon his own portrait. 'How sad it is! I shall grow old, and horrible, and dreadful. It will never be older than this particular day of June...If it were only the other way!
Excerpted from "The Picture of Dorian Gray"
Copyright © 2003 Oscar Wilde.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
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Table of Contents
The Picture of Dorian GrayAcknowledgements
A Note on the Text
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Appendix 1: Selected Contemporary Reviews of The Picture of Dorian Gray
Appendix 2: Introduction to the First Penguin Classics Edition, by Peter Ackroyd
What People are Saying About This
"Simon Prebble perfectly achieves Lord Henry's 'low, languid voice' and sparkling conversation, while avidly expressing the other characters' more torrid emotions." -AudioFile
His wit is an agent of renewal.