Author(s): Oscar Wilde
The Picture of Dorian Gray was a succès de scandale. Early readers were shocked by its hints at unspeakable sins and the book was later used as evidence against Wilde at the Old Bailey in 1895.
Enthralled by his own exquisite portrait, Dorian Gray makes a Faustian bargain to sell his soul in exchange for eternal youth and beauty. Under the influence of Lord Henry Wotton, he is drawn into a corrupt double life, where he is able to indulge his desires while remaining a gentleman in the eyes of polite society. Only Dorian's picture bears the traces of his decadence.
A knowing account of a secret life and an analysis of the darker side of late Victorian society. The Picture of Dorian Gray offers a disturbing portrait of an individual coming face to face with the reality of his soul.
Born in Ireland, Wilde (1854-1900) was educated in Dublin and Oxford and became the leading exponent of aestheticism. His work includes plays, a novel, poetry and criticism. Imprisoned for homosexual acts, he died after his release in exile in Paris. Robert Mighall has written on Gothic fiction and is the editor of Stevenson's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde for Penguin Classics.