The Picture of Dorian Gray

Introduction

The Picture of Dorian Gray is a philosophical novel by Oscar Wilde, first published complete in the July 1890 issue of Lippincott's Monthly Magazine.[1] Fearing the story was indecent, the magazine's editor without Wilde's knowledge deleted roughly five hundred words before publication. 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 the 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 1891 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 1891, 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.[2]

The only novel written by Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray exists in several versions: the 1890 magazine edition (in 13 chapters), with important material deleted before publication by the magazine's editor, J. M. 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 2011 by Harvard University Press; and the 1891 book edition (in 20 chapters).[3] As literature of the 19th century, The Picture of Dorian Gray "pivots on a gothic plot device" with strong themes interpreted from Faust.[4]


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