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The Picture of Dorian Gray altered the way Victorians understood the world they inhabited. It heralded the end of a repressive Victorianism, and after its publication, literature had - in the words of biographer Richard Ellmann - "a different look." Yet the Dorian Gray that Victorians never knew was even more daring than the novel the British press condemned as "vulgar," "unclean," "poisonous," "discreditable," and "a sham." Now, more than 120 years after Wilde handed it over to his publisher, J. B. Lippincott & Company, Wilde's uncensored typescript is published for the first time, in an annotated, extensively illustrated edition.



The novel's first editor, J. M. Stoddart, excised material - especially homosexual content - he thought would offend his readers' sensibilities. When Wilde enlarged the novel for the 1891 edition, he responded to his critics by further toning down its "immoral" elements. The differences between the text Wilde submitted to Lippincott and published versions of the novel have until now been evident to only the handful of scholars who have examined Wilde's typescript.



Wilde famously said that 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, which saw Wilde sentenced to two years' hard labor for gross indecency. The appearance of Wilde's uncensored text is cause for celebration.



About the Author

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Fingall O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin in 1854. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin and Magdalen College, Oxford where, a disciple of Pater, he founded an aesthetic cult. In 1884 he married Constance Lloyd, and his two sons were born in 1885 and 1886.
His novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891) , and social comedies Lady Windermere's Fan (1892) , A Woman of No Importance (1893) , An Ideal Husband (1895) , and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895) , established his reputation. In 1895, following his libel action against the Marquess of Queesberry, Wilde was sentenced to two years' imprisonment for homosexual conduct, as a result of which he wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898) , and his confessional letter De Profundis (1905) . On his release from prison in 1897 he lived in obscurity in Europe, and died in Paris in 1900.



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