The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray
by Mitzi Szereto
Cleis Press. 288 pages, $15.95
AUTHOR Mitzi Szereto, who recently wrote a funny, sexually explicit riff on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice subtitled Hidden Lusts (2011), has now written an erotic sequel to Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, that gothic tale of a young man who magically trades places with his portrait, which ages for him in the attic.
The Picture of Dorian Gray, first serialized in a magazine in 1891, is a kind of literary experiment by a playwright who was attempting a novel.Approximately one third of it follows the moral degeneration of the attractive Dorian after his friend, the painter Basil Hallward (who believes that everyone’s character can be read in their face) asks him to pose for a painting. Basil’s friend Lord Henry Wotton insists on meeting the young Adonis, and then apparently corrupts the innocent Dorian by constantly making witty comments that overturn conventional Victorian morality. Another third of the book could be titled “The World According to Lord Henry.” A final third is devoted to references to historical figures and descriptions of the beautiful objects that Dorian obsessively collects, including ecclesiastical garments worn by Roman Catholic clergymen during Mass. Dorian enjoys the perversity of owning these things as a nonbeliever.