Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Picture of Dorian Gray

The New Yorker has a good write-up on Oscar Wilde's only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Alex Ross considers the consequences of writing about homosexuality in Victorian society:

The furor was unsurprising: no work of mainstream English-language fiction had come so close to spelling out homosexual desire. The opening pages leave little doubt that Basil Hallward, the painter of Dorian’s portrait, is in love with his subject. Once Dorian discovers his godlike powers, he carries out various heinous acts, including murder; but to the Victorian sensibility his most unspeakable deed would have been his corruption of a series of young men.
Ross goes on to review two contradictory biographies of Wilde's gay and literary life.

In twentieth century literature, The Picture of Dorian Gray remains a seminal work in the gay fiction genre.

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