When was Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray published?
Oscar Wilde, whose full name is Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde, is an icon of Irish and world literature. Born in Dublin on October 16, 1854, he grew up in a cultural and artistic environment. His parents, both renowned intellectuals, encouraged his penchant for literature from an early age. Wilde studied at Trinity College Dublin, then at Oxford, where he developed a taste for aesthetics and the philosophy of art for art’s sake.
His literary career really took off in the 1880s, with the publication of his first poetic works. He quickly established himself as a leading figure in the aesthetic movement, advocating a vision of art detached from moral and social constraints. Novelist, playwright, poet and literary critic, Wilde excelled in a variety of genres, distinguishing himself by his quick wit, biting irony and flamboyant style.
However, his personal life was far from peaceful. His controversial love affairs and homosexuality, at a time when it was repressed, earned him a two-year sentence of hard labor. This ordeal marked a turning point in his life and work.
Wilde died in Paris on November 30, 1900, leaving behind him a rich and varied literary legacy, but also a life marked by controversy and tragedy. His work continues to fascinate and inspire, and today he is celebrated as one of the world’s greatest writers.
The Picture of Dorian Gray was written in a particular historical and literary context, marked by the Victorian era and the aesthetic movement to which Wilde himself belonged. The Victorian era, which stretched from the reign of Queen Victoria in 1837 to 1901, was a period of profound social and cultural change.
It was during this period, in 1890, that Wilde published The Picture of Dorian Gray. The novel first appeared in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, before being published in book form. The work immediately sparked controversy for its bold themes and implicit criticism of the social and moral conventions of the time.
Initial reception was mixed: while some praised Wilde’s literary genius and the depth of his work, others fiercely criticized the novel for its supposed immorality and potentially damaging influence on society. Despite this, The Picture of Dorian Gray is considered one of Wilde’s masterpieces and a major work of world literature.
The Picture of Dorian Gray is a fascinating work that explores the themes of youth, beauty and morality. The novel revolves around Dorian Gray, a young man of bewitching beauty, and his portrait, painted by Basil Hallward, a talented and passionate artist. Lord Henry Wotton, a cynical and manipulative aristocrat, also plays a central role in the story, profoundly influencing Dorian’s worldview and choices.
As the story unfolds, Dorian is introduced to a life of debauchery and excess, guided by Lord Henry’s hedonistic philosophies. Under this influence, he expresses the wish that his portrait should age in his place, allowing him to retain his youth and beauty forever. Strangely, his wish is granted: as Dorian sinks into immorality, his appearance remains immaculate, while his portrait transforms, reflecting the damage of his dissolute life.
- Dorian Gray: Dorian is a complex character whose angelic appearance conceals a tormented soul. Initially innocent and pure, he is soon seduced by Lord Henry’s decadent theories, marking the beginning of his moral descent.
- Basil Hallward: Basil is the artist who captured Dorian’s ephemeral beauty on canvas. He is deeply attached to Dorian, seeing in him an unparalleled source of inspiration. However, he is concerned about the changes he sees in his friend under Lord Henry’s influence.
- Lord Henry Wotton: Lord Henry is the catalyst for change in Dorian. Charismatic and eloquent, he preaches a life of pleasure without consequences, profoundly influencing Dorian’s worldview.
Dorian Gray is described as a young man of exceptional beauty and innocence. His angelic appearance contrasts sharply with the evolution of his personality over the course of the story. Under Lord Henry’s influence, he becomes narcissistic, egocentric and capable of the worst cruelties. His relentless quest for pleasure and eternal youth leads him to lead a double life, hiding his excesses and sins under an unchanged exterior.
The portrait plays a central role in Dorian’s life, acting as a mirror to his soul. Initially, it reflects his beauty and innocence, but as Dorian sinks deeper into depravity, the portrait transforms, revealing the ugliness of his actions. The portrait becomes a burden, a constant reminder of his sins, and Dorian becomes obsessed with hiding it and protecting his secret.
Dorian’s relationships with Basil and Lord Henry are essential to understanding his evolution. Basil represents conscience and morality, trying to bring Dorian back to the straight and narrow, while Lord Henry embodies temptation and corruption, driving Dorian to pursue a life of selfish pleasure. These opposing influences tear Dorian apart and are reflected in the portrait, underlining the duality of his nature.
The Picture of Dorian Gray Gray is rich in themes and symbols, exploring youth, beauty, morality and the duality of human nature. The portrait itself is a powerful symbol, representing Dorian’s soul and the consequences of his choices. The novel questions the value society places on youth and beauty, and examines the dangers of the selfish pursuit of pleasure. Dorian’s duality, torn between the influences of Basil and Lord Henry, illustrates the struggle between morality and decadence, the novel’s central theme.
When it was published in 1890, The Picture of Dorian Gray immediately provoked an outcry and virulent criticism. The novel’s themes of decadence, immorality and homosexuality were at odds with Victorian social and moral standards. Critics condemned the book for its alleged promotion of depravity and the influence of evil, calling it immoral and corrupt.
Wilde was forced to defend his work and published a preface to the next edition of the novel, in which he addresses the critics and defends the principles of art for art’s sake. He argues that art should not be judged according to moral criteria, and that the interpretation of a work is the individual responsibility of the reader.
Dorian Gray has become the archetypal handsome young man, symbolizing the quest for youth and beauty at all costs. The character and themes of the novel have left an indelible imprint on literature and popular culture, influencing many subsequent works.
In literature, the character of Dorian Gray has inspired a multitude of other characters tortured by their quest for beauty and eternal youth. In popular culture, the novel has been quoted, parodied and referenced in countless films, TV shows, songs and other media, underlining its continuing impact and relevance.
The Picture of Dorian Gray has been the subject of numerous adaptations in different media, reflecting its status as a literary classic.
The novel has been adapted to film several times, notably in 1945, directed by Albert Lewin, and in 2009, directed by Oliver Parker. Each of these adaptations has brought its own interpretation of the source material, highlighting different aspects of the story and the character of Dorian Gray.
The novel has also inspired episodes of television series, and the character of Dorian Gray has been portrayed in various programs, adding to the richness and diversity of the work’s interpretations.
Finally, The Picture of Dorian Gray has been adapted into plays, ballets and operas, demonstrating the story’s versatility and universality.
Each of these adaptations has helped to perpetuate the myth of Dorian Gray and maintain the novel’s influence on contemporary culture.