Oscar Wilde only penned one novel. One he didn’t likely imagine as allegory for future American politics. Though given sufficient time to germinate, every moral of man’s frailty eventually finds purchase in life.
Wilde, the once married but frequently homosexed playwright and poet, produced The Picture of Dorian Gray in July 1890. Only God knows whether the rise to preeminence of neoconservatism almost exactly a century later was intended as divine trolling. Though the coincidence probably shouldn’t be discounted. Regardless, the story’s titular character–a vision of the author’s personal aspiration–was a handsome and charismatic aesthete. A young man who, eschewing morality, comes to find fulfillment only in self-indulgence.
At some point Gray poses for a full-length oil portrait, and afterwards contemplates its permanence against his own fleeting physical beauty. Determined to a maintain a lifestyle of amoral licentiousness into perpetuity, he trades his soul so that he will age and wither only in the portrait. And so he does. His face eventually becoming a ravaged monstrosity in its secreted away painting. The moral scars of vice, venality, and deceit written only to oil. He peddles lies abundantly, perhaps most generously to himself. Though in the veil of sunlight, he remains a man of unblemished attractiveness.
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