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 Gray—often 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 youth—a concept Wilde derived from the German legend of Faust—Dorian 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.
First published in 1890 in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine and the following year in novel form, The Picture of Dorian Gray categorically changed Victorian Britain and the landscape of literature. An ostentatious, self-confessed aesthete, known for his wit and intellect, Wilde not only had to endure his prose being labeled "poisonous" and "vulgar," but also suffer its use as evidence in the ensuing trial, resulting in his eventual imprisonment for crimes of "gross indecency." Frankel's introduction provides a deft preliminary analysis of the novel itself exploring etymology and extensive editorial alterations (both accidental and deliberate) and offers valuable insight into the socio-cultural juxtaposition of aristocratic Victorian society and the London underworld. The original typescript provides the unique opportunity to examine what was considered acceptable in both the US and UK at the time. Intriguing annotations allude to Wilde's influences and enterprising range of reference, incorporating art, poetry, literature, Greek mythology, philosophy, and fashion (certain to inspire further reading; an appendix is provided). Comparisons are drawn between Dorian Gray and Wilde's other literary output, as well as to the work of Walter Pater. Numerous illustrations subtly compliment Frankel s inferences. A fine contextualization of a major work of fiction profoundly interpreted, ultimately riveting.