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Synopsis

The first version of The Picture of Dorian Gray was published as the lead story in the July 1890 edition of Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, along with five others. The story begins as Gray's portrait is being completed, and he talks with the libertine Lord Henry Wotton, who has a curious influence on him. When Gray, who has a "face like ivory and rose leaves" sees his finished portrait he breaks down, distraught that his beauty will fade, but the portrait stay beautiful, inadvertently making a faustian bargain. For Wilde, the purpose of art would guide life if beauty alone were its object. Thus Gray's portrait allows him to escape the corporeal ravages of his hedonism, (and Miss Prism mistakes a baby for a book in The Importance of Being Earnest), Wilde sought to juxtapose the beauty he saw in art onto daily life.

Wilde's life continues to fascinate and he has been the subject of numerous biographies since his death. The earliest were memoirs by those known to him: often they are personal or impressionistic accounts which can be good character sketches, but factually unreliable. Frank Harris, his friend and editor, wrote a biography, Oscar Wilde: His Life and Confessions (1916), though prone to exaggeration and sometimes factually inaccurate, it offers a good literary portrait of Wilde

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