Will Self – Dorian
It is 1981 and the “Royal Broodmare”, as Henry Wotton calls her, is about to be married. Wotton, a homosexual, and his friend Baz have found a remarkable young man Dorian Gray, the epitome of male beauty. Sixteen years later, how does Dorian remain so youthful?
To buy an unabridged audio book version of Umbrella, by Whole Story Audiobooks, which has also produced audio versions of The Butt, Liver (read by Will), The Book of Dave (also read by Will) and How the Dead Live, go to Amazon here.
Will Self is going to be discussing his book Dorian and Oscar Wilde’s writing with the film and literary critic Kevin Jackson on May 13 at the V&A. For more details and to book tickets, go here.
Dorian is chosen for the Telegraph’s Bookclub: “Praise abounded: clever and dazzling. Trademark show-off vocabulary triumphantly deployed. Characterisation outstanding. Above all, laugh-out-loud funny. As for the book’s misogyny and homophobia, these were gleefully glossed over. Even the ending, which throws an irritating twist, got the thumbs up.”
I’m back at the Sylver Surfer. I wanted to post a blog in Primrose Hill yesterday, when I staggered out of the dentist. But although this part of London may heave with the sexual antics of fashionable underpants designers and pretty-boy actors, pay-per internet access is thin on the ground.
When I come to think of it – and must we not all come to think of such things eventually? – cyber cafes are the tanning salons of the infosphere, they beckon you inside to bombard your cerebellum with sinister radiation; they encourage you to fritter away minutes and then hours playing the plastic piano of trivia.
It’s a wild, Wilde world
Will Self knows something about repressed, homosexual, aristocratic drug addicts
In 1998 I was approached by Joan Bakewell and her then husband, Jack Emery, to consider doing a film adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. Some money came from Jack and more from Channel 4. Without this commission I don’t think that I would ever have considered adapting Wilde, let alone re-novelising him.
Jonathan Heawood, September 2002
“He brings events forward to June 1981, the summer of the Royal Wedding and the Brixton riots, a time when, according to Self, ‘Britain was in the process of burning most of its remaining illusions’. In this world of style and insubstantiality, Basil Hallward’s oil painting has become an installation called Cathode Narcissus, in which Dorian’s divine form revolves endlessly across a bank of video monitors. Where The Picture of Dorian Gray both defined and mocked the decadent movement, Self aspires to do the same for postmodernism. Where Wilde had Huysmans, Self has Warhol. Where Wilde epitomised aestheticism, Dorian: An Imitation is riddled with reflexivity. And where the original novel was compelling but only incidentally amusing, Self’s adaptation is brutal and sometimes hysterical.”
Read the full review
Robert McCrum talks to Will Self
“Observer: What’s the relationship of Dorian to The Picture of Dorian Gray?
Will Self: It’s an imitation – and a homage. As a complete and professed rewrite of a classic, I think it’s unique. The Picture of Dorian Gray is the prophecy and Dorian is the fulfilment.
Obs: What gave you the idea?