Uncensored Picture of Dorian Gray: A Reader’s Edition by Oscar Wilde Nicholas Frankel

UPODGThomas Hardy complained that censors were prudish so it isn’t just this book which had parts cut. One translator was sent to jail so publishers were under legal threat.

There is much repetition in the textual introduction of material in the general introduction.

Some of our group thought that we were sold this version under false pretences since there is hardly any extra material and yet there are seven chapters from the World Classics edition missing here. https://gaymensbookclubbristol.wordpress.com/2015/02/20/the-picture-of-dorian-gray-oxford-worlds-classics-by-oscar-wilde-author-isobel-murray-editor/

Wilde’s view of marriage was shocking to many of his time. Was that why the book was censored. If can’t be because of homosexuality per se because the uncensored version still had: Why is your friendship so fatal to young men ? There was that wretched boy in the Guards who committed suicide. You were his great friend. There was Sir Henry Ashton, who had to leave. England, with a tarnished name. You and he were inseparable. What about Adrian Singleton, and his dreadful end ? What about Lord Kent’s only son, and his career ? I met his father yesterday in St. James’s Street. He seemed broken with shame and sorrow. What about the young Duke of. Perth? What sort of life has he got now ? What gentleman would associate with him ?’

Is Basil the angel and Lord Henry the devil in Dorian’s ears? The latter urges a pre-Christian, Greek morality.

One chapter is self-indulgent and contains much tedious description but otherwise the book skilfully leaves much to the imagination.

The anti-Semitism when referring to the theatre manager is typical of its time.

The portrait painter acted out of adoration for Dorian.The sitter is merely the accident, the occasion. It is not he who is revealed by the painter; it is rather the painter who, on the coloured canvas, reveals him­self. The reason I will not exhibit this picture is that I am afraid that I have shown in it the secret of my own soul.’ (And Wilde being a Roman Catholic, would have known that ‘accident’ was a technical term in the notion of transubstantiation – if Dorian is the accident, does the painting become the substance – art as sacrament? the painting as the real presence?)

The name Dorian evokes ‘Greek love’.

The portrait remains ‘in the closet’.

Algiers is mentioned – a hangout for English homosexuals.

Wilde’s typical bon mots are amusing to start with but become tiresome after a while.

Is it autobiographical? Wilde once remarked that it “contains much of me in it. ….that Basil Hallward is “what I think I am” but “Dorian what I would like to be—in other ages, perhaps.” Wilde’s comment suggests a backward glance to a Greek or “Dorian” Age, but also a forward-looking one to a more permissive time. That Dorian and Lord Henry contain elements of John Gray and Lord Ronald Gower: does not begin to account for the com­plexity of these characters or for their vibrancy on the page.

Quotations

there is only one thing in the world worse than being I talked about, and that is not being talked about then in the Church they don’t think. A bishop keeps on saying at the age of eighty what he was told to say when he was a boy of eighteen

It is better not to be different from one’s fellows. The ugly and the stupid have the best of it in this world. They can sit at their ease and gape at the play. If they know nothing of victory, they are at least spared the knowledge of defeat. They live as we all should live, undisturbed, indifferent, and with­out disquiet. They neither bring ruin upon others, nor ever receive it from alien hands. Your rank and wealth, Harry; my brains, such, as they are—my art, whatever it may be worth; Dorian Gray’s good looks—we shall all suffer for what the gods have given us, suffer terribly.’

With an evening coat and a white-tie, as you told me once, anybody, even a stock-broker, can gain a reputation for being civilized

I have always been my own master; had at least always been so, till I met Dorian Gray. Then—but I don’t know how to explain it to you. Something seemed to tell me that I was on the verge of a terrible crisis in my life. I had a strange feeling that Fate had in store for me exquisite joys and exquisite sorrows. I grew afraid, and turned to quit the room. (awe)

Lady Brandon treats her guests exactly as an auctioneer treats his goods

It is only the intellectually lost who ever argue.

Women have no appreciation of good looks

to influence a person is to give him one’s own soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions. His virtues are not real to him. His sins, if there are such things as sins, are borrowed. He becomes an echo of some one else’s music, an actor of a part that has not been written for him. The aim of life is self-development. To realize one’s nature perfectly—that is what each of us is here for.

The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.

It has been said that the great events of the world take place in the brain. It is in the brain, and the brain only, that the great sins of the world take place also.

You know more than you think you know, just as you know less than you want to know.

Beauty is a form of Genius—is higher, indeed, than Genius, as it needs no explanation.

You have only a few years in which to live really, perfectly, and fully. When your youth goes, your beauty will go with it…….Every month as it wanes brings you nearer to something dreadful. Time is jealous of you, and wars, against your lilies and, your roses. You will become sallow, and, hollow-cheeked, and dull-eyed.

`I am jealous of everything whose beauty does not die. I am jealous of the portrait you have painted of me. Why should it keep what I must lose ? Every moment that passes takes something from me, and gives something to it. Oh, if it were only the other way! If the picture could change, and I could be always what I am now ! Why did you paint it?

‘What a fuss people make about fidelity!’ exclaimed Lord Henry. ‘Why, even in love it is purely a question for physiol­ogy. It has nothing to do with our own will. young men want to be faithful, and are not; old men want to be faithless, and cannot: that is all one can say.’

Lord Henry had not yet come in. He was always late on principle, his principle being that punctuality is the thief of time.

‘The formal monotonous ticking of the Louis Quatorze clock annoyed him. Once or twice he thought of going away.

Dorian smiled, and shook his head: ‘I am afraid I don’t think, so, Lady Henry. I never talk during music—at least, during good music. If one hears bad music, it is one’s duty to drown it in conversation.’

Nowadays people know the price of everything, and the value of nothing.

`Never marry at all, Dorian. Men marry because they are tired; women, because they are curious: both are disappointed.’

`I don’t think I am likely to marry, Harry. I am too much in love. That is one of your aphorisms. I am putting it into practice, as I do everything that you say.’

`My dear, boy, no woman is a genius. Women are a decorative sex. They never have anything to say, but they say charmingly. Women represent the triumph of matter over mind, just as men represent the triumph of mind over morals.’

As for conversation, there are only five women in London worth talking to, and two of these can’t be admitted into decent society

I remembered what you had said to me on that wonderful evening when we first dined together, about the search for beauty being the real secret of life.

`Half-past six! What an hour! It will be like having a meat ­tea, or reading an English novel. It must be seven. No gentle­man dines before seven.

I am a little jealous of the picture for being a whole month younger than I am.

Basil, my dear, boy, puts, everything that is charming in him into his work. The consequence is that he has nothing left for life but his prejudices, his principles, and his common sense. The only artists I have ever known, who are personally delightful, are, bad artists. Good artists exist simply in what they make, and consequently are perfectly uninteresting in what they are.

The pulse and passion of youth were in him, but he was becoming self-conscious. It was delightful to watch him. With his beautiful face, and his beautiful soul, I he was a thing to wonder at. It was no matter how it all ended, or was destined to- end. He was like one of those gracious figures in a pageant or a play, whose joys seem to be

Remote from one, but whose sorrows stir one’s sense of beauty and whose wounds are like red roses.

drawback to marriage is that it makes one unselfish. And unselfish people are colourless. They lack individuality.

The love that he bore him—for it was really love—had nothing in it that was not noble and intellectual. It was not that mere physical admira­tion of beauty that is born of the senses, and that dies when the senses tire. It was such love as Michael Angelo had known, and Montaigne, and Winckelmann, and Shakespeare himself.

There are few of us who have not sometimes wakened before dawn, either after one of those dreamless nights that make us almost enamoured of death, or one of those nights of horror and misshapen joy, when through the chambers of the brain sweep phantoms more terrible than reality itself……Gradually white fingers creep through the curtains, and they appear to tremble. In black fantastic shapes, dumb shadows crawl into the corners of the room, and crouch there

It was rumoured of him once that he was about to join the Roman Catholic communion; and certainly the Roman ritual had always a great attraction for him. The daily sacrifice, more awful really than all the sacrifices of the antique world, stirred him as much by its superb rejection of the evidence of the senses as by the primitive simplicity of its elements and the eternal pathos of the human tragedy that it sought to symbolize. He loved to kneel down on the cold marble pavement, and watch the priest, in his stiff flowered dalmatic, slowly and with white hands moving aside the veil of the tabernacle, or raising aloft the jewelled lantern-shaped monstrance with that pallid wafer that at times, one would fain think, is indeed the ‘panis celestis,’ the bread of angels, or, robed in the garments of the Passion of Christ, breaking the Host into the chalice, and smiting his breast for his sins. The fuming censers, that the, grave boys, in their lace and scarlet, tossed into the air like great gilt flowers, had their subtle fascination for him….. But he never fell into the error of arresting his intellect or of mistaking, for a house in which to live, an inn that is but suitable for the sojourn of a night, or for a few hours of a night in which there are no stars and the moon is in travail. Mysticism, with its marvellous power of making common things strange to us, and the subtle antinomianism that always seems to accompany it, moved him for a season; and for a season he inclined to the materialistic doctrines of the Darwinismus movement in Germany, and found a curious pleasure in tracing the thoughts and passions of men to some pearly cell in the brain, or some white nerve in the body, delighting in the conception of the absolute dependence of the spirit on certain physical conditions, morbid or healthy, normal or diseased. Yet, as has been said of him before, no theory of life seemed to him to be of any importance com­pared with life itself. He felt keenly conscious of how barren all intellectual speculation is when separated from action and experiment. He knew that the senses, no less than the soul, have their spiritual mysteries to reveal.

He had a special passion, also, for ecclesiastical vestments,’ as indeed he had for everything connected with the service of the Church. In the long cedar chests that lined the west gallery of his house he had stored away many rare and beauti­ful specimens of what is really the raiment of the Bride of Christ, who must wear purple and jewels and fine linen that she may hide the pallid macerated body that is worn by the suffering that she seeks for, and wounded by self-inflicted pain.

For these treasures, and everything that he collected in his lovely house, were to be to him means of forgetfulness, modes by which he could escape, for a season, from the fear that seemed to him at times to be almost too-great to be borne.

Dorian Gray had been poisoned by a book. There were moments when he looked on evil simply as through which he could realize his conception of the beautiful.

Censored bits:

Basil Hallward to Lord Henry about Dorian: “I find a strange pleasure in saying things to him I know I shall be sorry for having said. I give myself away. As a rule, he is charming to me, and we walk home together from the club arm in arm.”

Wilde’s narrator tells us in the 1890 Lippincott’s edition and the typescript that “rugged and straightforward as he was,” there was something in Hallward’s na­ture “that was purely feminine in its tenderness.”

In the present typescript version Hallward says to Dorian: “It is quite true I have worshipped you with far more ro­ mance of feeling than a man should ever give to a friend. Somehow I have never loved a woman. . . . From the moment I met you, your personality had the most extraordinary influence over me . . . I adored you madly, extravagantly, absurdly. I was jealous of every­one to whom you spoke. I wanted to have you all to myself. I was only happy when I was with you.”

“Why is it that every young man that you take up seems to come to grief, to go to the bad at once?” changed to “Why is your friendship so fateful to young men?”

“A man with curious eyes had suddenly peered into his face, and then dogged him with stealthy footsteps, passing and repassing him, many times.”

“Upon the other hand, had she become your mistress, she would have lived in the society of charming and cultured men. You would have educated her, taught her how to dress, how to talk, how to move. You would have made her perfect, and she would have been extremely happy. After a time, no doubt, you would have grown tired of her. She would have made a scene. You would have made a settlement. Then a new career would have begun for her.”

“she promised to come with me to town. I had taken a house for her, and arranged everything,”

“I don’t suppose that ten per cent of the lower orders live with their wives” changed to “I don’t suppose that ten per cent of the lower orders live cor­rectly.”

“the sinful creatures who prowl the street at night [and who] cursed him as he passed by, seeing in him a corruption greater than their own.”

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5 Comments »

  1. […] I have read this twice before but have just read it in conjunction with the recently published uncensored version edited by Nicholas Frankel. https://gaymensbookclubbristol.wordpress.com/2015/02/20/uncensored-picture-of-dorian-gray-a-readers-… […]

  2. […] return to the home page […]

  3. […] return to the home page […]

  4. […] return to the home page […]

  5. […] return to the home page […]

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