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Queer Book Club: "The Uncensored Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde

A reading group focusing on literature through a queer lens, hosted monthly at Chicago’s premier bookstore for the LGBTQ community. Alternating between the “classics” of gay fiction and contemporary, historically underrepresented voices, we read to explore queer experience across literary genres and eras! Join us in a friendly discussion once a month! For questions about this book club, email Matt at matt@unabridgedbookstore.com.

This month the Queer Book Club will meet to discuss The Uncensored Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde on Wednesday, October 27th at 7:30pm.

More than 120 years after Oscar Wilde submitted The Picture of Dorian Gray for publication in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, the uncensored version of his novel appears here for the first time in a paperback edition. This volume restores all of the material removed by the novel's first editor.

Upon receipt of the typescript, Wilde's editor panicked at what he saw. Contained within its pages was material he feared readers would find "offensive"--especially instances of graphic homosexual content. He proceeded to go through the typescript with his pencil, cleaning it up until he made it "acceptable to the most fastidious taste." Wilde did not see these changes until his novel appeared in print. Wilde's editor's concern was well placed. Even in its redacted form, the novel caused public outcry. The British press condemned it as "vulgar," "unclean," "poisonous," "discreditable," and "a sham." When Wilde later enlarged the novel for publication in book form, he responded to his critics by further toning down its "immoral" elements.

Wilde famously said that The Picture of Dorian Gray "contains much of me" Basil Hallward is "what I think I am," Lord Henry "what the world thinks me," and "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 view to a more permissive time than his own repressive Victorian era. By implication, Wilde would have preferred we read today the uncensored version of his novel.

Oscar Wilde was an Irish writer, poet, and playwright. His novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, brought him lasting recognition, and he became one of the most successful playwrights of the late Victorian era with a series of witty social satires, including his masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest.
 
Nicholas Frankel is Professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Among his many books about Oscar Wilde are Oscar Wilde: The Unrepentant Years, The Annotated Prison Writings of Oscar Wilde, and The Picture of Dorian Gray: An Annotated Uncensored Edition (all from Harvard).
 
The Uncensored Picture of Dorian Gray Cover Image
$15.50
ISBN: 9780674066311
Availability: Available, order here for delivery or pickup.
Published: Belknap Press - August 13th, 2012

Event date: 

Wednesday, October 27, 2021 - 7:30pm

Event address: 

Unabridged Books, Inc.
Chicago, IL 60657
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