Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin in 1854. After his marriage to Constance Lloyd in 1884, he tried to establish himself as a writer, but with little initial success. However, his three volumes of short fiction, The Happy Prince (1888), Lord Arthur Savile's Crime (1891) and A House of Pomegranates (1891), together with his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), gradually won him a reputation as a modern writer with an original talent, a reputation confirmed and enhanced by the phenomenal success of his Society Comedies -- Lady Windermere's Fan, A Woman of No Importance, An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest, all performed on the West End stage between 1892 and 1895. Success, however, was short-lived. In 1891 Wilde had met and fallen in love with Lord Alfred Douglas. In 1895, when his success as a dramatist was at its height, Wilde brought an unsuccessful libel action against Douglas's father, the Marquess of Queensberry. Wilde lost the case and two trials later was sentenced to two years' imprisonment for acts of gross indecency. As a result of this experience he wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol. He was released from prison in 1897 and went into an immediate self-imposed exile on the Continent. He died in Paris in ignominy in 1900.
This novel by Wilde is so well known that even many who have never read it or seen a movie version know the story. Briefly, a beautiful young man has a portrait painted that will show his aging and corruption while he himself remains young. And though it has been published in many editions since its first appearance in 1890 in a magazine, this edition is the first one based on Wilde's uncensored typescript. Frankel (English, Virginia Commonwealth Univ.) provides an introduction that sets the scene of the book in its cultural context, and he presents a bibliographic history detailing the rationale for this particular edition. Accompanying the text itself are Frankel's hundreds of annotations, a mixture of commentary, background information, and notes on sources. There are extensive illustrations reproduced here in both color and black and white, many from earlier editions of Dorian and others chosen to further illuminate the novel's themes. There are several images of Wilde as well. VERDICT Like Harvard University Press's other beautiful annotated editions of classics, this is both handsome and instructive. Recommended for all English literature collections.-David Azzolina, Univ. of Pennsylvania Lib., Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Gr 10 Up-"The Whole Story" format provides illustrations and annotations to the classic text. Ross's lively and sophisticated cartoons add interest, and historical information helps readers place the novel in proper context and gives insight into its characters. The problem with this attractive, glossy layout, however, is that the text and the quotes pulled from it are not always on the same page. Further, some illustrations and notations visually cut into the narrative and may distract readers. For example, a drawing appears on the first page along with the passage, "In the centre of the room, clamped to an upright easel, stood the full-length portrait of a young man of extraordinary personal beauty," but that quote does not appear until the second page of the story. Useful as a supplement to the original novel, but not a replacement for it.-Karen Hoth, Marathon Middle/High School, FL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.