A book that shows the world its own shame – Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde portrait by Napoleon Sarony - albumen

(Book and) tea time! But this time, let’s not talk about writers famous by long volumes of their monumental work. Let’s remember a novelist made famous by his only published novel, “The Picture of Dorian Gray.”

Oscar Wilde’s full name was Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde. Complex, isn’t it? Basically, just another telling embodiment of his rich personality. “The Picture of Dorian Gray” might be his most famous piece of work, but aside from that novel he is also famous for his collection of fairy stories “The Happy Prince and Other Stories”, political essay “The Soul of Man under Socialism”.

Let’s not forget the plays “A Woman of No Importance” and “The Importance of Being Earnest”, epistle “De Profundis”, which he written in prison and for his very last poem “The Ballad of Reading Gaol.” Nevertheless, this is not huge. Wilde had things to do, places to see.

In popular perception, his work is somehow shadowed Dorian Gray, eternally young man, a man who cheated death but had to pay a terrible price.

“The Picture of Dorian Gray” was first published on June 20th, 1890, in the July issue of “Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine”. The novel had a long and bumpy road until it was published as Wilde intended. The magazine’s editor considered the novel “indecent” so he shortened it for some 500 words (without Wilde’s knowledge, mind you).

The longer and revised version of “The Picture of Dorian Gray” was published in book form in 1891, but a full, intact version of the novel won’t be published until 2011.

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(Can you imagine that? And we thought 20th century was so liberal and purged of Victorianism that censored Wilde so decidedly.)

The novel makes allusions to many works of art throughout the history: Plato’s “The Republic”, Wagner’s “Tannhäuser”, the Faustian legend…

“The Picture of Dorian Gray” is a worthy addition to the world’s literature and one of those novels that constantly reminds us how important it is to think and let think.

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