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Ever since its explosive publication in 1890, Oscar Wilde's Gothic treatise on decadence, sin, and corruption has been subject to scandal and intrigue. Revised and censored multiple times during Wilde's tragically short life, it is presented here in its original, un-muted form, complete with redacted phrases and sentences that would later be used against Wilde at his trials for homosexuality. Beyond its salacious subtext, however, is a rich and philosophical parable on morality -- one as powerful as a sermon but as sensually entrancing as an opium cigarette -- which slyly undermines its presumed thesis of hedonism with a heartbreaking appeal to human decency.
Dorian Gray's transformation from innocent object of a shy painter's platonic lust to heartless, corrupting lady-killer with dozens of ruined lives, murders, and suicides on his conscience is etched into his soul without leaving a blemish on his lovely face. But as Wilde reveals throughout his hypnotic, Faustian novel, vanity, arrogance, and a lack of compassion may make for an indulgent life without regrets, but the devil will have his due. Annotated and illustrated, this critical edition of Wilde's deeply personal ode to corruption also includes his satricial ghost story, "The Canterville Ghost," the mysterious parable, "The Sphinx Without a Secret," and his black-comedy thriller, "Lord Arthur Saville's Crime."