Oscar Wilde's tale of a Faustian pact in Victorian England, The Picture of Dorian Gray is a both a slow-burning Gothic horror and a brilliant philosophical investigation of youth, beauty and desire.
Enthralled by his own exquisite portrait, Dorian Gray exchanges his soul for eternal youth and beauty. Influenced by his friend Lord Henry Wotton, he is drawn into a corrupt double life; indulging his desires in secret while remaining a gentleman in the eyes of polite society. Only his portrait bears the traces of his decadence. The Picture of Dorian Gray was a succes 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. It has lost none of its power to fascinate and disturb.
This Penguin Classics edition is edited with an introduction and notes by Robert Mighall.
If you enjoyed The Picture of Dorian Gray, you might like Joris-Karl Huysmans' Against Nature (A Rebours) Wilde's real-life inspiration for the novel that slowly corrupts Dorian Gray, also available in Penguin Classics.
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. Peter Ackroyd is a best-selling writer whose recent work includes biographies on Dickens and Blake.