In his introduction, Jeremy Reed contends that this original Lippincott's edition is both radically different from the later version and far more homoerotic. Arguably, it is this version which remains closest to Wilde's initial preconception.
Misogynistic, anarchic, unethical, and overtly homo-erotic, The Picture of Dorian Gray has become a blueprint for subversive fiction and has inspired subsequent literary outlaws such as Jean Genet, William Burroughs and J.G.Ballard. It remains a true classic of renegade literature and, one hundred years on, continues to shock in its disaffiliation from ethics.
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."