first published, The Picture of Dorian Gray was regarded as dangerously
modern in its portrayal of fashionable fin de siecle decadence. In Wilde’s
updated version of the Faust story, the tempter is Lord Henry Wotton, who lives
selfishly for amoral pleasure; Dorian’s good angel or conscience is the portrait
painter Basil Hallward.
Wilde was identified with the “art for art’s sake” movement of the nineteenth
century which did not subordinate art to ethical instruction. However, this
novel is indeed a morality tale about the hazards of egotistical
self-indulgence. “If it were I,” exclaims Dorian, “who were always to be young
and that picture that was to grow old … I would give my soul for that.” With
that spoken, the tale of this young hero of amazing beauty, Dorian Gray,
begins. His pact with evil allows his portrait to take on his many sins and
degradations while his physical appearance remains youthful. Over the years as
he becomes cruel and vicious, even murderous, Dorian’s young and perfect body
is no longer enough to salvage his deteriorating mind and morality. Will
justice and good prevail? Download and start listening now!