The continuing importance of "The Picture of Dorian Gray" however is primarily as the aesthetic manifestation and mirror of the immense, tragic personality of Oscar Wilde. The brilliant Irishman descended on Oxford in 1874 and published his one and only novel in 1890. It was a commission from "Lippincott's Magazine", published in serial form. Wilde's career - as short story writer, playwright and occasional journalist - reached its zenith in the following two years; he was a crucial and imperious figure in the fin de siecle scene that started in the 1880s. During those years, this paradoxical philosopher of the complex relationship between art, human nature and truth walked a tight-rope between fame and scandal...In his Francophile "The Decay of Lying", written in 1889, and in many ways foreshadowing Dorian Gray, Wilde warned those readers who might be tempted to recognise him in the characters of Dorian, Wotton or Hallward that "art is a veil, rather than a mirror".
The fundamental premise of "The Decay of Lying" is that life imitates art more than art imitates life: Wilde recounts the anecdote of a certain Hyde coming across a horrific scene from Stevenson's novel in a squalid London street. He calls it "accidental imitation", which sheds an ironic light on the last years of his own life. In 1891, Wilde met the young Alfred Douglas, son of the Marquis of Queensberry. Douglas hated his father; the father despised Douglas and Wilde. Their fierce and passionate love for each other, recounted in Wilde's autobiographical work "De Profundis", would effectively push the poet to social suicide, prison, exile and premature death in a Paris hotel. This "accidental imitation" casts a retrospective spotlight - if any is needed - on the quasi-gothic scenes of "The Picture of Dorian Gray."
Oscar WILDE was born in Dublin in 1854, and wrote most of his work between 1885 and 1895. His only novel The Picture of Dorian Gray was published in 1891. Ruined by a libel case that cost him two years in prison - and inspired the famous The Ballad of Reading Gaol - he fled to France and died in Paris in 1900.