1. “There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book,” Wilde says in the Preface. “Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.” Does the novel confirm this argument? Wilde published his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, before he reached the height of his fame. It was criticized as scandalous and immoral. Disappointed with its reception, Wilde revised the novel in 1891, adding a preface and six new chapters. The Preface anticipates some of the criticism that might be leveled at the novel and answers critics who charge The Picture of Dorian Gray with being an immoral tale. It also briefly sets forth the tenets of Wilde’s philosophy of art. Devoted to a school of thought and a mode of sensibility known as aestheticism, Wilde believed that art possesses an intrinsic value—that it is beautiful and therefore has worth, and thus needs serve no other purpose, be it moral or political. The Picture of Dorian Gray is the story of one beautiful, innocent young man's seduction, moral corruption, and eventual downfall. We meet our three central characters at the beginning of the book, when painter Basil Hallward and his close friend, Lord Henry Wotton, are discussing the subject of Basil's newest painting, a gorgeous young thing named Dorian Gray. Basil and Henry discuss just how perfectly perfect Dorian is – he's totally innocent and completely good, as well as being the most beautiful guy ever to walk the earth. Lord Henry wants to meet this mysterious boy, but Basil doesn't want him to; for some reason, he's afraid of what will happen to Dorian if Lord Henry digs his claws into him. Reflecting on the course of his past twenty years, he confronts Lord Henry, whom he believes is responsible for leading him astray. Lord Henry gives Dorian a book. Dorian criticizes the yellow book that, years before, had such a profound influence over him, claiming that this book did him great harm. This accusation is, of course, alien...
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