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Dorian, An Imitation chapter 1 Dorian, An Imitation, meaning Dorian, An Imitation, genre Dorian, An Imitation, book cover Dorian, An Imitation, flies Dorian, An Imitation, Dorian, An Imitation 4b16ec6209f9a Dorian Will Self S Brilliant Imitation Of Oscar Wilde S Original Tainted Love Story Brutal, Savage, Infinitely Readable Observer Chilling, Hysterical, Tasteless And Haunting A Gothic Thriller Complementing And Enriching Its Original Independent On SundayIn The Summer Of , Aristocratic, Drug Addicted Henry Wooten And Warhol Acolyte Baz Hallward Meet Dorian Gray Dorian Is A Golden Adonis Perfect, Pure And So Far Deliciously Uncorrupted The Subject Of Baz S Video Installation, Cathode Narcissus, And The Object Of Henry S Attentions, Dorian Is Launched On A Hedonistic Binge That Spans The S And S But As Baz And Henry Succumb To The Disease Du Jour, How Is It That Dorian, Despite All His Sexual And Narcotic Debauchery, Remains So Unsullied So Vibrantly Alive A Book That Filled Its First Reviewers With The Odour Of Moral And Spiritual Putrefaction Just Got Smellier, Darker And Funnier Observer Dorian Will Be Adored By Fans Of Will Self And Martin Amis And Is An Essential Read For Those Who Enjoyed The Picture Of Dorian GrayWill Self Is The Author Of Nine Novels Including Cock And Bull My Idea Of Fun Great Apes How The Dead Live Dorian, An Imitation The Book Of Dave The Butt Walking To Hollywood And Umbrella, Which Was Shortlisted For The Man Booker Prize He Has Written Five Collections Of Shorter Fiction And Three Novellas The Quantity Theory Of Insanity Grey Area License To Hug The Sweet Smell Of Psychosis Design Faults In The Volvo Turbo Tough, Tough Toys For Tough, Tough Boys Dr Mukti And Other Tales Of Woe And Liver A Fictional Organ With A Surface Anatomy Of Four Lobes Self Has Also Compiled A Number Of Nonfiction Works, Including The Undivided Self Selected Stories Junk Mail Perfidious Man Sore Sites Feeding Frenzy Psychogeography Psycho Too And The Unbearable Lightness Of Being A Prawn Cracker


10 thoughts on “Dorian, An Imitation

  1. says:

    Another book from the 2002 Booker longlist, this is a book full of surprises It is basically an updated version of Oscar Wilde s The Picture of Dorian Gray, starting in 1981 and finishing in 1997 For much of the book Self mirrors the original narrative, though his wit is heavy handed than Wilde s and his excesses are extreme He is never able to resist showing off his knowledge of linguistic obscurities, peppers the book with a huge range of both high and low brow references, and he also revels in some pretty grisly and unsavoury scenes, so it is not a book for the easily offended.The updates work fairly naturally Basil Hallward s picture becomes a video installation, and Henry Wotton and Dorian Gray move from the narcissism of the gay scene of early 80s London and New York to the dark shadow of AIDS in the late 80s and early 90s Both Wotton and Gray are portrayed as much vicious characters than in Wilde s original.The book gets much interesting towards the end view spoiler The main body of the novel ends with the deaths of Gray and Wotton The epilogue is a rather clever metafictional game Gray, who is still alive, is presented with the story by the widowed Victoria Wotton, as a manuscript written by Henry and discovered after his death This Gray has a successful advertising business and is involved in New Labour, and the manuscript is revealed as the product of Wotton s warped imagination But Self doesn t leave it there, the last few pages twist it again to give the whole thing a fittingly macabre conclusion hide spoiler


  2. says:

    Sacreligiously, I prefer this to Wilde s original And I greatly prefer it to any of Will Self s other fiction I ve read Always been a big fan of his non fiction, the stories less so I doubt I ll ever read a better re write of a classic those things are not known even for being good, but this is superlative.Such profusion and richness of language as Self uses is a precarious act most people can t get away with their attempts at this, making a long series of risible pratfalls as can be seen all over sites like this one, including in not a few of my old posts Many of us are better with the sort of pruned simplicity advocated here, in a post wonderfully entitled Don t Use Said , He Bellowed Creative Writing Lessons From the Primary School Classroom and only the occasional decorative flourish to mix it up Of course, there are those who think nobody should go all baroque with words, but that s not the point here I even think Self overdoes it sometimes, repeating what he s just said in different vocab for the sheer fun of it But the story of Dorian Gray, all that elite decadence and the famous blooming of all the flowers at once, regardless of season, could not be a perfect fit for Will Self s writing style and reference dropping And for his personality Very few contemporary writers could come up with so many new aphorisms of such high quality and just the right tone Wilde said Basil Hallward is what I think I am Lord Henry is what the world thinks me Dorian is what I would like to be in other ages, perhaps The 1980s version of Henry Wootton in Dorian is except for being gay rather than straight just what Will Self was popularly thought to be during his heroin years Although HW has, interestingly, Patrick Melrose s childhood as per Edward St Aubyn s Never Mind he turns his dissociation into an extra sense to use whilst driving There is another Self insert his Hallward in the form of a supporting character who s a novelist and high functioning addict Plus, this version ninety years on from the original doesn t have to leave out the sex, and can venture inside the doors of the opium den Contemporary sincerity isn t always a bad thing, and makes Dorian moving and philosophical, , dare I say, relevant and relatable, than the original Somehow, ridiculously to some of those who know me, I had never quite thought of social work and allied occupations as a way of safely feasting with panthers but the early scenes around Henry s mother s pet good works suddenly made it quite glaring Wilde s story has given Self s work what I now realise I found lacking in it before beauty and glamour The other stuff is grotesque in all but language For me, anyway, Dorian might be the ultimate decadent novel it has the brilliant allure of beauty and nostalgia alongside utter horror and fatalism in equal measure on some level I wanted to be there, to be one of them, despite knowing how hideously it would end In reality I know I prefer a part time watered down version, just like when I was younger I wanted to find friends like the characters from The Secret History but not murderous and accepting Self s characters are all themselves, fitting perfectly with the rhythm of their own times, the 1980s and 90s Yet they remain absolutely excellent analogues to the originals This is the same glamorous, soon to be AIDS ravaged, gay London as Hollinghurst s later The Line of Beauty Tainted Love a song I ve always found to have a habit of popping up at spookily apt times made its second appearance in a few days in books I was reading, the others being in Beigbeder s A French Novel and Five Miles From Outer Hope by Nicola Barker As with every version of the story I ve read or seen, Hallward here a video installation artist ranked alongside Bill Viola, and a former Warhol acolyte is my favourite of the main characters Lord Henry s wit is very impressive, and Dorian might be beautiful to look at no one s ever cast him right in a film , but Baz Basil is to me likeable, dammit, and completely understandable in his human fallibility and semi requited love, as well as being an unwitting magician in this darkly glittering world.The further metafictional flourish in the last chapter was a surprise I can t decide whether it added to the book or not, but a certain type of reader less wholly enamoured with the world of the book, and admiring the whole thing as an intellectual exercise will quite probably appreciate it.Looking back, I m likely to regret things I have done than those I haven t Going against general advice But I did rather miss a trick with this book I went to a pre publication reading and signing back in 2002 but, unperceptively true to the un Wildean cult of authenticity, I decided to avoid this re write in favour of Will Self s original works, and saved money by getting an old paperback essay collection signed instead I m most glad of the inadvertant shove back in the direction of Dorian, thanks to a now vanished GR profile which displayed excellent taste One of the best things I ve read this year nigh on perfect as far as I was concerned.


  3. says:

    Self s title here works two ways His Dorian is an imitation of Wilde s Picture of Dorian Gray, and Self s Dorian Gray, which is to say his hero, is an imitation of whatever he needs to be, given the situation at hand Numerous times the narrator refers to this man as a chameleon, and indeed there s something far sinister about this Dorian than Wilde s.Self has updated the story to AIDS era Britain Instead of a picture, Dorian is reproduced as Cathode Narcissus, a nine monitor video installation of Dorian s nude body seen voyeuristically at all angles at once It s this video that Dorian wishes would age while he stays young, and, indeed, this is what happens But Self pushes the central magic further Dorian s video self also bears AIDS s ravages of the body, while the live Dorian is able to live with and spread the virus without any personal threat.What s great about this novel is how it sits right at that line between anti gay and anti gay which is to say, borderline homophobic but really in the end just smartly critical of all the failures of post Stonewall gay culture Self attacks the whole notion of gay identity and identification, most explicitly in the dialogue of his heroin shooting novelist stand in character Devenish It s been the misfortune of people who prefer sex with their own gender to be forced to regard this as some essential part of themselves After all, homosexuality was only defined as a pathology in response to the alleged healthiness of heterosexuality It s the great mistake of you erm you gays to mistake a mere attribute for an essence 212 And the same character attacks gay our culture s youth obsession If Gray were able to stay young and have this video installation age in his stead, he d be the icon of an era in which everyone seeks to hang on to their childhood until they re pressing furry fucking teddy bears against wrinkled cheeks You homosexuals are only the vanguard of a mutton army dressed as denim lambs 220.Will Self is straight or, well, straight or whatever , which complicates all this in stupid ways What I mean is, if it were, say, Foucault saying this which he did, essentially, regarding the first quote , or Roy Cohn in Angels in America who said something similar to the second quote regarding clout and anti discrimination laws , I d be fine with it The community or whatever would be fine with it, but as Self doesn t identify as gay nor could he I don t think , his writing could be seen as homophobic.It s not I for one am glad for Self s book I d much rather read something critical and thought provoking than the easy bromides of rah rah, Good for us gay fiction Even if the former isn t accurate, the latter feels like a lie.


  4. says:

    Oscar Wilde foppish aesthete Limp wristed intelligence with prepared wit, language so ethereal that it s like being smothered in a bed of marshmallow clouds Famous book Picture of Dorian Gray, about a man who sells his soul to stay forever young and debauch.Will Self took that and has written a novel inspired by Picture of Dorian Gray, about drug use, gay sex, and well, actually, I never got to the point where the plot starts By page 50, I was still struggling my way through hard jagged language and in your face amoral and immoral unpleasantness It feels wrong to say this, like I m some tut tutting septuagenarian who thought they were getting a Victorian novel, but it s not the drug use and gay sex that I object to no problem with that in other stories It s the fact that that everything is deliberately unpleasant in your face, sharp and ugly, not to be liked You can t like the characters, you can t like what they do nor why they do it, and you probably won t even like the vacuous upper crust meets low drug culture worlds they flit through.Life s too short to be yelled at And that s what this feels like like Self has you pigeonholed at the bar and is reading you the poem he wrote after an unpleasant divorce, the one that starts fuck you with a spade, you dog faced bitch and goes downhill from there.Back to the library it goes, with no remorse.


  5. says:

    My addiction to Self began here an interlibrary loan that, afterwards, I foisted upon Melanie with a fever Oh, man, unreliable narrators You shouldyou gottaoh, manjustjust read It brings to mind the taste of tuna melts and fries at Swarth s secondary cafeteria, as I discussed my amazement with the sustained wordplay, the in your face use of big, eldritch words Melanie listened patiently, probably feeling a bit sad for me that I d never been out of my literary gutters before to discover that there arearepractically reams of wordplay and unreliability lining the shelves some of them even are catalogued as Current History Nowdays, though, Self has become kind of a dick, following his hero, Martin Amis who, in turn, is following pied piper Christopher Hitchens , into the realm of Neo Connery But this was when he was cool.


  6. says:

    Dorian is a good looking, immoral young man who takes quite a lot of drugs, has unprotected sex with men and women and takes risks He is one of a group of similarly decadent people, but as they get older and sicker, he seems untouched by his lifestyle He is also the subject of a video installation.Will Self has retold Oscar Wilde s story The Picture of Dorian Gray in a modern setting, with Aids as a constant threat and he has done so brilliantly.


  7. says:

    I Liked this Better Than the Original A literary re write is a difficult thing to do well, but Will Self does it I think Self works better within the restraints of this form, versus his bloated books The Butt or The Book of Dave and the new twists Self adds to the tale work wonders.There is no one picture there is a modern art installation of multiple videos of Dorian and he has to track down and hide each and every one adding to the drama which was missing in the original The debauched, druggy Lords and Ladies work brilliantly in a mid 80s setting, as does the masterstroke of using the HIV epidemic to hasten the ageing process for all other characters This also adds to the suspicion around Dorian s miraculous escape from such a fate In retrospect I realise a little about what was implied in the original The Picture of Dorian Gray why Dorian s implied sleeping about was just so dangerous and evil syphilis epidemic, anyone but, through no fault of Wilde s, he couldn t state those things emphatically, and I think the original is weaker for not being able to really get down and nitty gritty with those themes.This modern retelling is slightly lighter on the quotable quips, but I think the novel is stronger for it Quips are great fun, but with Wilde s original they can completely dominate scenes, whereas in this they merely give an impression of the characters Henry is funny, acidic and mean, yes but he doesn t set the tone for every single scene He remains a character who narrator Self pulls the strings on not vice versa.


  8. says:

    I learned that I should probably read the original as well This one is interesting because it is written with accents and isn t apologetic.at all my first instinct is todefinetly not like it but that is only because it is hard to find a character to sympathize with when all the guys gay in the book hate women but I think I need to look deeper


  9. says:

    This book is a filthyb awesomec one of those that pulls the rug out from under you in the last few pagesI thought I was reading an update of The Picture of Dorian Gray, one whose modern setting and graphic sensibility allowed it to wallow in questions about the nature and addictive properties of evil, the duty of self awareness, and the contagion of ideas All that was very interesting I felt sorry for Basil Baz Hallward, although I did love this assessment of his murder from the lips bien sur of Henry Wotton First, I don t believe he did it secondly, even if he did, his victim wouldn t have had long to live in any case and thirdly, Baz is so insubstantial anyway, to murder him would have all the actuality of rubbing out a bad fictional character Oh goodness.Things the English major in me loved all of the above plus the constant use of words like gay, queer, straight, bent, etc in any possible sense I remember these in Wilde as well, but obviously without the same level of self awareness This was a very self aware book.Which brings be back to the end Was this book about echoes in time Reincarnation The nature of fiction itself Crazy people Who knows As much as I shudder to contemplate recommending this to my fellow English major father, I kind of want to just to discuss this with him Because I was about to give this three stars for cleverness before the epilogue catapulted it into four What can I say I love ambiguity.


  10. says:

    This was longlisted for the Booker back in 2002, so in some respects I read it as preparation for this year s Booker marathon Also, it seemed an interesting premise it reminded me that back in 1970 there was a filmic modern update on the Dorian Gray story that also didn t quite come off, starring German slab of beef Helmut Berger in his prime Anyway, I am of two minds with this, my first and possibly last Will Self tome The lapidary prose is incredible, although perhaps not QUITE up to the standard set by Wilde himself in the original And the transposition of the Victorian hedonism to the gay drug addled demi monde of the late 20th Century works, for the most part, even if Self seems much at home with the drug world than he does the gay one But he tries way too hard to effect some sort of American Psycho style that just comes off as desperate, and his odd fixation on Warhol and Princess Di is just bizarre in retrospect Plus, there is somewhat of a cruel streak in his equating the ravages of AIDS with debauchery that reeks of sophistry.


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