Oscar Wilde was an Irish writer and poet whose plays were popular in London in the 1890s. His life was at times controversial, involving court cases and imprisonment. The Picture of Dorian Gray was initially ill-received thanks to its portrayal of decadent life, but is now viewed as a landmark of British literature.
This novel by Wilde is so well known that even many who have never read it or seen a movie version know the story. Briefly, a beautiful young man has a portrait painted that will show his aging and corruption while he himself remains young. And though it has been published in many editions since its first appearance in 1890 in a magazine, this edition is the first one based on Wilde's uncensored typescript. Frankel (English, Virginia Commonwealth Univ.) provides an introduction that sets the scene of the book in its cultural context, and he presents a bibliographic history detailing the rationale for this particular edition. Accompanying the text itself are Frankel's hundreds of annotations, a mixture of commentary, background information, and notes on sources. There are extensive illustrations reproduced here in both color and black and white, many from earlier editions of Dorian and others chosen to further illuminate the novel's themes. There are several images of Wilde as well. VERDICT Like Harvard University Press's other beautiful annotated editions of classics, this is both handsome and instructive. Recommended for all English literature collections.-David Azzolina, Univ. of Pennsylvania Lib., Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.