The Picture of Oscar Wilde

Thanks to Clarinda for the copy of Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray which I have just finished. It’s one of those books which you feel you should have read or you feel as if you have read because it is referenced so often. First published in 1890 and later used as evidence against Wilde at his Old Bailey trial in 1895, the novel was met with equal amounts of acclaim and condemnation. Consider this contemporary review from the St James’s Gazette:-

“The puzzle is that a young man of decent parts, who enjoyed (when he was at Oxford) the opportunity of associating with gentlemen, should put his name (such as it is) to so stupid and vulgar a piece of work. Let nobody read it in the hope of finding witty paradoxes or racy wickedness. The writer airs his cheap research among the garbage of the French Decadantes like any drivelling pedant, and he bores you unmercifully with his prosy rigmaroles about the beauty of the Body and the corruption of the Soul.”

So you didn’t like it then? Actually I think it’s the prosy rigmaroles which make Wilde worth reading and if you like the plays you’ll probably like this.

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