This is the "Penguin English Library Edition" of "The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde. 'I am jealous of everything whose beauty does not die. I am jealous of the portrait you have painted of me ...Why did you paint it? It will mock me some day - mock me horribly!'. A story of evil, debauchery and scandal, Oscar Wilde's only novel tells of Dorian Gray, a beautiful yet corrupt man. When he wishes that a perfect portrait of himself would bear the signs of ageing in his place, the picture becomes his hideous secret, as it follows Dorian's own downward spiral into cruelty and depravity. "The Picture of Dorian Gray" is a masterpiece of the evil in men's hearts, and is as controversial and alluring as Wilde himself. "The Penguin English Library" 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.
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."