Introduction by Jeffrey Eugenides
Written in his distinctively dazzling manner, Oscar Wilde's story of a fashionable young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty is the author's most popular work. The tale of Dorian Gray's moral disintegration caused a scandal when it ﬁrst appeared in 1890, but though Wilde was attacked for the novel's corrupting inﬂuence, he responded that there is, in fact, "a terrible moral in "Dorian Gray."" Just a few years later, the book and the aesthetic/moral dilemma it presented became issues in the trials occasioned by Wilde's homosexual liaisons, which resulted in his imprisonment. Of Dorian Gray's relationship to autobiography, Wilde noted in a letter, "Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world thinks me: Dorian what I would like to be--in other ages, perhaps.
About the Author
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (b. Dublin, 1854) was an Irish playwright, who wrote one of the best loved comedies in the English language - "The Importance of Being Earnest" (1895). A leading wit and conversationalist in London society, his career was destroyed at its height when he was imprisoned for homosexual offences. Wilde was born in Dublin and educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and Magdalen College, Oxford. Settling in London, he became famous for his extravagant dress, long hair, and paradoxical views on art, literature, and morality. His first play, "Vera "(1880), a tragedy about Russian nihilists, was produced in New York to poor reviews. Success in the theatre came with the elegant drawing-room comedy "Lady Windermere's Fan". "A Woman of No Importance" (1893) was another success. Other works for the theatre were" An Ideal Husband" (1895) and the biblical "Salom "(1896), written in French for Sarah Bernhardt. Wilde flaunted his homosexual affairs, including his ill-fated liaison with Lord Alfred Douglas. Following a celebrated trial in 1895 he was sentenced to two years' imprisonment with hard labour. The sentence led to public humiliation, poor health, and bankruptcy. On his release in 1897 he left for France and remained in exile there until his death in 1900.