More than 120 years after Oscar Wilde submitted The Picture of Dorian Gray for publication in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, the uncensored version of his novel appears here for the first time in a paperback edition. This volume restores all of the material removed by the novel’s first editor.
Upon receipt of the typescript, Wilde’s editor panicked at what he saw. Contained within its pages was material he feared readers would find “offensive”—especially instances of graphic homosexual content. He proceeded to go through the typescript with his pencil, cleaning it up until he made it “acceptable to the most fastidious taste.” Wilde did not see these changes until his novel appeared in print. Wilde’s editor’s concern was well placed. Even in its redacted form, the novel caused public outcry. The British press condemned it as “vulgar,” “unclean,” “poisonous,” “discreditable,” and “a sham.” When Wilde later enlarged the novel for publication in book form, he responded to his critics by further toning down its “immoral” elements.
Wilde famously said that The Picture of Dorian Gray “contains much of me”: Basil Hallward is “what I think I am,” Lord Henry “what the world thinks me,” and “Dorian what I would like to be—in other ages, perhaps.” Wilde’s comment suggests a backward glance to a Greek or Dorian Age, but also a forward-looking view to a more permissive time than his own repressive Victorian era. By implication, Wilde would have preferred we read today the uncensored version of his novel.
Oscar Wilde just got a little wilder.
The Uncensored Picture of Dorian Gray is the latest edition of Wilde's only novel, but it is also the first. Editor Nicholas Frankel has followed the manuscript Wilde submitted to Lippincott's magazine in early 1890. Frankel poured over the original typescript and about 3,000 handwritten words Wilde added to it, restoring subtle but important romance between the three lead characters… The effect is not radical…but it is noticeable, and the book is more satisfying for his efforts… Frankel's uncensored version is closest to what Wilde intended before editors and hostile critics intervened, and it is also the most pleasurable to read… The Picture of Dorian Gray is a haunting, beautiful and important novel.
Now, for the first time, we can read the version that Wilde intended...Both the text and Nicholas Frankel's introduction make for fascinating reading.
The Picture of Dorian Gray is just as spine tingling, relevant, and original now as it was in 1891. From the compelling story to the musicality of the prose to the symbolism, The Uncensored Picture of Dorian Gray is a great read.
- 272 pages
- 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
- Belknap Press
From this author
Sorry, there was an error adding the item to your shopping bag.
Sorry, your session has expired. Please refresh your browser's tab.