A novel by Oscar Wilde, serialized by Lippincott's Magazine in 1890 and expanded in book form the same year. Once regarded as daringly modern in its portrayal of fin-de-siácle decadence, it draws on traditional motifs to create a powerful Gothic novel. In an updated version of the Faust story, Dorian sells his soul to keep his youth and beauty. The tempter is Lord Henry Wotton, who lives selfishly for amoral pleasure; Dorian's good angel or conscience is Basil Hallward, the portrait painter, whom Dorian murders. The book highlights the tension between the polished surface of high life and the life of secret vice. Although sin is punished in the end, the book has a strong flavour of the elegantly perverse. The preface asserts: ‘There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all.’
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