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The two versions of PoDG 
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Post The two versions of PoDG
I finally got my old copy of PoDG today. (I had to move all my novels to my son's and daughter-in-law's house because I ran out of room at home). It is an annotated version that details some of the critical differences between the two versions. They are pretty interesting. I thought I would post some of them in this thread in case you are interested in discussing what difference it makes to our understanding of what Wilde was trying to say with his novel.


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Sat May 02, 2009 4:32 pm
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Some chapter 1 differences

Where the text now reads "and the two young men went out into the garden together" the original version added "and for a time they did not speak." The note in the version I have says that by omitting this phrase the tension of the moment was reduced. What I think that really means is that it turned away from looking directly at the rivalry going on over this lovely young man. If Dorian was Doriana, then the scene would read as permissible sexual jealousy. At least that is how I read it.

Where the text now reads "I grew afraid" the original version went on with "I knew that if I spoke to Dorian I would become absolutely devoted to him, and that I ought not to speak to him."

Where the text now reads "Hallward shook his head, the original version had "Hallward buried his face in his hands."

Where the the text now reads "I don't suppose that ten per cent. of the proletariat live correctly," the original version had "I don't suppose tern per cent. of the lower orders live with their own wives." The text I have goes on to say "This was too explicit for Wilde's editor at Lippincott's, who amended to to 'correctly'; Wilde changed 'lower orders' to 'proletariat' in 1891.

Where the text now reads "I couldn't be happy if I didn't see him every day," the 1890 version goes on with "Of course sometimes it is only for a few minutes. But a few minutes with somebody one worships mean a great deal." "But you don't really worship him?" "I do."

This is not all of them of course, but it gives a good idea of what Wilde was trying to do with his edit.


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Sat May 02, 2009 4:46 pm
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Some chapter 2 differences

1891 version: "No wonder Basil Hallward worshipped him"
1890 version: "He was made to be worshipped" This bit was deleted from the 1891 version

1890 version: When Basil says "I shall stay with the real Dorian," in the 1890 version he has smiling as he said it. In the 1891 version, he says it "sadly." Something to think about that.

Although this next bit is not a change, it is an interesting bit of social trivia from the time that explicates the book. When the text reads (Lord Henry speaking) "love...is purely a question for physiology" the text I am using says of this "A view established by Charles Darwin in his Descent of Man (1871), where he proposed the principle of sexual selection which united the human race with the animal kingdom.

I find it interesting to watch Wilde grapple with the issues of his day, the evolutionary perspective on the problem of mankind being one of them. And since Wilde was himself deeply interested in science (in particular Psychology), it makes me wonder how much of Lord Henry Wilde found in himself.


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Sun May 03, 2009 2:49 pm
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Some chapter 3 differences

There appear not to be any critical differences in chapter 3. However, did you know that (out of Henry's mouth) the idea that a "person's 'soul' could be projected into another individual, points to ideas of 'mesmeric' influence and metempsychosis which were then preoccupying such bodes as the Institute for Psychic Research and which found their way into sensational fictions such as H. Rider Haggard's She (1886), Arthur Conan Doyle's The Parasite (1894), George du Maurier's Trilby (1894) and Richard Marsh's The Beetle (1897)."


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Sun May 03, 2009 2:58 pm
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Some chapter 4 differences

where the text says "the search for beauty being the real secret of life" Wilde had inserted the adjective "poisonous" before the word "beauty" but later changed it to the version we have now. The notes in my text go on to say that the idea of "poisonous beauty" have to do with the French school of decadence.

(see http://www.glbtq.com/literature/decadence,4.html for an interesting short article that mentions its influence on Wilde)

In the 1891 version: "what are your actual relations with Sibyl Vane"
in the 1890 Lord Henry asked "tell me, is Sybil Vane your mistress? and then "I suppose she will be your mistress some day" The editor at Lippincott's did like this. Too explicit.


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Sun May 03, 2009 3:08 pm
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On chapter 5

This whole chapter was absent from the 1890 version. Given that it circles around Sybil, and gives more depth to what it means to be female (as far as the book is concerned anyway), I need to rethink what Wilde is saying about women. I have to say I find his book really very funny, if in a mean way sometimes, but his attitude toward women here - I used to take it a bit personally, but now I think his snarkiness says more about his attitude towards Victoria and her cultural legacy than it does about women specifically. Although, I suppose he did accept (like many people did) that women were the moral carriers of the culture. What does it say then, that they are so easily influenced and destroyed?

Have to think on this a bit.


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Sun May 03, 2009 3:17 pm
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Post PoDG
i've never had the pleasure of reading either of these versions. i feel like a bit of a dope - i didn't even know "dorian gray" was a wilde concoction. at 33, i should probably know better. :) would you be willing to give me a brief synopsis on the work? it's tough to get a good idea from the above posts, since i am not familiar. if it's too much trouble, no worries! i need to get crackin' on my classics, tho...



Wed Jul 22, 2009 8:07 pm
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Thanks for those annotations, Mary . . . it gives us a chance to know the difference.

I don't agree that it 'makes a difference', however.

I caught the tension just the same.



Fri Aug 21, 2009 8:53 am
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You know I suspect that just the 'homosexual' flavour of the story would have kept people riveted to the novel.

It must have been so in the time it was first published; I imagine people avidly reading it, for that reason alone.

Even in the 1950's, when 'sex' wasn't as explicit as it is today, people got interested in contraversial stories such as 'Peyton Place' and what's that other one - the gardener's lover? No - it wasn't exactly that . . . I can't think of the name right now.

But I remember being 15 years old and having a copy of the book - oh boy! My friends and I all sat around. I was the 'reader', the one who would read aloud - they all sat entranced as I read through the steamy pages of that book.

I read it again a couple of years ago and had no idea what was so fascinating about to us then - ha ha!

Oh yeah ... right - Lady Chatterley's Lover - that was it.



Fri Aug 21, 2009 8:59 am
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