No Artist Is Ever Morbid From Picture Of Dorian Gray Preface By Oscar Wilde

Do you agree no artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything?

This is one of the twenty-three aphorisms taken the Picture Of Dorian Gray Preface.

The preface is considered as a Manifesto of the Aesthetic Movement, which Wilde used it to rebut the accusations of his work as grossly immoral.

The Picture Of Dorian Gray” was first published in the Philadelphia-based periodical Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine in July 1890.

How did Oscar Wilde’s novel “The Picture Of Dorian Gray” come about?

It all began at a dinner at the Langham Hotel on 30 August 1889 in London.

The managing editor of Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, Joseph Marshall Stoddart, gave a dinner at the hotel for Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle, together with a politician.

Stoddart’s intention was to solicit stories from these two up-and-coming British writers Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle for Lippincott’s.

In 1890, Stoddart published Conan Doyle’s second Sherlock Holmes novel, “The Sign Of The Four“.

As for Oscar Wilde, he submitted a short fantasy story for children titled “The Fisherman And His Soul“.

It was when Stoddart asked for a piece twice as long as the 3,000 word “The Fisherman And His Soul“.

Nine months later (7 April 1890) Wilde sent in his novella “The Picture Of Dorian Gray” for serial publication.

That was how the only known novel by Oscar Wilde “The Picture Of Dorian Gray” came into being.

no artist is ever morbid

The story is about a man named Dorian Gray who never ages, while his full-length portrait in oil gradually turns decrepit.

It is all about this handsome, innocent young man’s seduction, moral corruption, boundless debauchery and his eventual downfall.

Basically, it is an archetypal tale of a young man who sells his soul for the luxury of eternal youth.

In other words, Dorian Gray sold his soul to the devil for immortal beauty.

Wilde used this controversial Gothic and philosophical story to explore his ideas about art, beauty, morality, and love.

Before this Wilde’s original work was published on the 20 July 1890 issue of Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, Stoddart already had reservations with the sensitive content of the story.

Without Wilde’s knowledge, he removed about five hundred words from Wilde’s story.

Among the excised or altered content is the one which expatiate upon the explicit homoerotic nature of artist Basil Hallward’s feelings for Dorian Gray and passages that smacked of decadence.

Yet the edited 13-chapter version of the novel when published, it still offended the moral sensibilities of British book reviewers.

It was reported that Britain’s largest bookseller, W H Smith & Son, refused to stock the July edition of this literary magazine.

In August 1890, Wilde said to have received 216 similar attacks on his novel since its appearance in Lippincott’s two months earlier.

You can read the harsh reviews by The Daily Chronicle, The St. James Gazette, Scots Observer. The Christian Leader, The Christian World, over here.

In fact, portions of this 1890 version of Dorian Gray were cited as evidence against Wilde in his 1895 trial for indecency with Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas.

Anyway, Oscar Wilde revised the magazine edition of The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890) and expanded it from thirteen to twenty chapters into a book.

Actually Wilde added only six more chapters to it.

But the magazine edition’s final chapter was divided into two chapters, the nineteenth and twentieth chapters.

In addition, an aphoristic preface was added at the beginning of the book which was published in 1891.

The Origin Of Picture Of Dorian Gray Preface Quotes

Wilde appended the preface to this new version, to defend his work from previous criticism and hopefully to prevent more attacks on it.

The Picture Of Dorian Gray preface quotes is a collection of twenty-three aphorisms.

Many of these maxims were taken from his letters which he wrote to his critics.

You can read more about Oscar Wilde’s replies to his critics in this book:

Art And Morality: A Defence Of “The Picture of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde, Edited By Stuart Mason, London: J. Jacobs, 1908 source

Some are based on ideas found in Théophile Gautier’s Preface to his novel “Mademoiselle du Maupin“.

Wilde’s preface to Dorian Gray is also being compared to Joseph Conrad’s Preface to “The Nigger Of The Narcissus”.

Picture Of Dorian Gray Preface Quotes Story

The preface first appeared in the 1891 March 1 issue of The Fortnightly Review, under the title ‘A Preface to “Dorian Gray“‘.

(The Fortnightly Review, No. CCXCI, New Series- March 1, 1891, A Preface To Dorian Gray, PP. 480-481) source

In fact, this preface was originally titled as “Dogmas for the Use of the Ages” which Wilde drafted it before March 1891.

The original draft is held by British Library.

Interestingly, many readers have highlighted the disparity and paradox between the “Preface” to “The Picture Of Dorian Gray”.

The Picture Of Dorian Gray In Different Version

There are a couple of versions of “The Picture Of Dorian Gray“, which you can read free online:

1. The Picture of Dorian Gray (The original typescript by Oscar Wilde, as submitted to J.M. Stoddart in 1890)

It is found in:

The Picture Of Dorian Gray, Edited by N. John McArthur, Stonewall Riot Press, 2011 source

The Picture of Dorian Gray, Edited By James Gifford, McPherson Library, Special Collections, University of Victoria, 2011 source

Note: This original typescript is now housed at the William Andrews Clark Jr. Memorial Library, at the University of California in Los Angeles.

2. The Picture of Dorian Gray  (edited by Joseph Marshall Stoddart as published in the Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, 20 July 1890 source

Another source of this version is found here.

3. The Picture of Dorian Gray (re-edited and expanded version, 1891)

It is found in:

The Picture Of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, London: Ward, Lock And Company, 1891. source

4.The latest versions (previously unpublished and copyright-protected material from the typescript of The Picture of Dorian Gray) are:

The Picture of Dorian Gray: An Annotated, Uncensored Edition, Edited By Nicholas Frankel, Harvard University Press, 2011

The Uncensored Picture of Dorian Gray, Edited By Nicholas Frankel, Harvard University Press, 2012 source

Two other sources of this book is found here and here.

Note: The latest version is the same as the first uncensored typescript.

No Artist Is Ever Morbid Dorian Gray Preface

Now, let’s check out the twenty-three (23) aphorisms listed in Oscar Wilde’s preface for The Dorian Gray:


“The artist is the creator of beautiful things.” – Oscar Wilde

(The Picture Of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde, London: Simpkin, Marshall Hamilton, Kent & Co., 1913, Preface, P. 5) source


“To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim.” – Oscar Wilde

(The Picture Of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde, London: Simpkin, Marshall Hamilton, Kent & Co., 1913, Preface, P. 5 ) source


“The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.” – Oscar Wilde

(The Picture Of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde, London: Simpkin, Marshall Hamilton, Kent & Co., 1913, Preface, P. 5) source


“The highest, as the lowest, form of criticism is a mode of autobiography.” – Oscar Wilde

(The Picture Of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde, London: Simpkin, Marshall Hamilton, Kent & Co., 1913, Preface, P. 5) source


“Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.” – Oscar Wilde

(The Picture Of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde, London: Simpkin, Marshall Hamilton, Kent & Co., 1913, Preface, P. 5) source


“Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope.” – Oscar Wilde

(The Picture Of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde, London: Simpkin, Marshall Hamilton, Kent & Co., 1913, Preface, P. 5) source


“They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty.” – Oscar Wilde

(The Picture Of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde, London: Simpkin, Marshall Hamilton, Kent & Co., 1913, Preface, P. 5) source


“There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.” – Oscar Wilde

(The Picture Of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde, London: Simpkin, Marshall Hamilton, Kent & Co., 1913, Preface, P. 5) source


“The nineteenth century dislike of Realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.” – Oscar Wilde

(The Picture Of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde, London: Simpkin, Marshall Hamilton, Kent & Co., 1913, Preface, P. 5) source


“The nineteenth century dislike of Romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass.” – Oscar Wilde

(The Picture Of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde, London: Simpkin, Marshall Hamilton, Kent & Co., 1913, Preface, P. 5) source


“The moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium.” – Oscar Wilde

(The Picture Of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde, London: Simpkin, Marshall Hamilton, Kent & Co., 1913, Preface, P. 5) source


“No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved.” – Oscar Wilde

(The Picture Of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde, London: Simpkin, Marshall Hamilton, Kent & Co., 1913, Preface, P. 5) source


“No artist has ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style.” – Oscar Wilde

(The Picture Of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde, London: Simpkin, Marshall Hamilton, Kent & Co., 1913, Preface, P. 6) source


No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything.” – Oscar Wilde

(The Picture Of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde, London: Simpkin, Marshall Hamilton, Kent & Co., 1913, Preface, P. 6) source


“Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art.” – Oscar Wilde

(The Picture Of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde, London: Simpkin, Marshall Hamilton, Kent & Co., 1913, Preface, P. 6) source


“Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art.” – Oscar Wilde

(The Picture Of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde, London: Simpkin, Marshall Hamilton, Kent & Co., 1913, Preface, P. 6) source


“From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of the musician. From the point of view of feeling, the actor’s craft is the type.” – Oscar Wilde

(The Picture Of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde, London: Simpkin, Marshall Hamilton, Kent & Co., 1913, Preface, P. 6) source


“All art is at once surface and symbol.” – Oscar Wilde

(The Picture Of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde, London: Simpkin, Marshall Hamilton, Kent & Co., 1913, Preface, P. 6) source


“Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.” – Oscar Wilde

(The Picture Of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde, London: Simpkin, Marshall Hamilton, Kent & Co., 1913, Preface, P. 6) source


“Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.” – Oscar Wilde

(The Picture Of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde, London: Simpkin, Marshall Hamilton, Kent & Co., 1913, Preface, P. 6) source


“It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.” – Oscar Wilde

(The Picture Of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde, London: Simpkin, Marshall Hamilton, Kent & Co., 1913, Preface, P. 6) source


“Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital.” – Oscar Wilde

(The Picture Of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde, London: Simpkin, Marshall Hamilton, Kent & Co., 1913, Preface, P. 6) source


“When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself.” – Oscar Wilde

(The Picture Of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde, London: Simpkin, Marshall Hamilton, Kent & Co., 1913, Preface, P. 6) source


“We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.” – Oscar Wilde

(The Picture Of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde, London: Simpkin, Marshall Hamilton, Kent & Co., 1913, Preface, P. 6) source


“All art is quite useless.” – Oscar Wilde

(The Picture Of Dorian Gray By Oscar Wilde, London: Simpkin, Marshall Hamilton, Kent & Co., 1913, Preface, P. 6) source