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Dorian: An Imitation Hardcover – 26 Sep 2002

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; First Edition edition (26 Sept. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670889962
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670889969
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 2.8 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 490,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'One of those rare writers whose imaginations change the way we see the world' JG Ballard

About the Author

Will Self has published three short-story collections and three novels, all of which are in Penguin. His most recent novel HOW THE DEAD LIVE was shortlisted for the 2000 Whitbread Fiction prize, and was a bestseller in both paperback and hardcover. He is married to the Independent columnist Deborah Orr, and they live with their two children in Stockwell, South London.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 7 Oct. 2002
Format: Hardcover
My head reels! I have, of course, just finished reading Will Self's "Dorian" and he's smarter than smart can be!
"Dorian - an Imitation" is so much more than simply the retelling of one of our most famous and terrifying modern fables.
Self has not only retold Oscar Wilde's 'Picture of Dorian Gray', and done this with great panache, dexterity and originality, but has taken it some way further as well. While many will (think) they know what to expect from the plot, there are plenty of new ports of call to keep the most jaded reader wide awake.
Self has transposed the characters of the original to the London of the 1980s and 1990s. And in so doing, Self gives glorious attention to detail: Dorian Gray's progress from callow youth to shallow monster, his 'mentor' Henry Wotton, the cynical yet perspicacious, bisexual drug-fiend aristo, his somewhat dippy but devoted wife 'Batface', the wrinkled old queen 'The Ferret' (like a human embodiment of the Dormouse from Alice in Wonderland) who keeps falling asleep and to whom they keep feeding drugs... and a convincing cast of many other lowlifes and highbrows.
Impressive, too, is the detail (psychological and social) of (a sector of) the homosexual world of the period, the disease and subculture of AIDS and (of course, Mr Self) drug taking. I write as a not totally unworldly gay man with HIV and feel that Self has achieved an, at times, uncomfortable and poignant accuracy.
At the novel's climax, as ever, Self has more cards up his sleeve than we realise. We're kept on the edge of our seats to the end - our brains reeling on the roller coaster of (!self-) revelation right to last full stop.
I found this book shocking, loathsome, chilling, gruesome and (consequently) totally compelling.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Mark Hillary on 3 Oct. 2003
Format: Paperback
Self does it again. This time he turns his confident prose style to a modernisation of the Wilde classic depicting love, loss and the battle for eternal youth. I re-read the Wilde version immediately after reading Dorian and I was amazed at how closely Self managed to replicate the character development, but also graft a new layer of 20th Century detritus to the original. This is beautiful and shocking piece of literature that will certainly stand up as a classic in its own right, but is even better if read with the Wilde version. Go jiggling man!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a clever retelling and updating into a world of drugs and AIDS, of Wilde's story.

The 1980s gay scene is captured well, with its pre-AIDS sense of liberation - orgies, `damp bath houses and fetid gyms, cottages'

Then comes this new disease thought to be caused by using poppers. Later comes the Labour landslide and Diana.

Diana and Dorian became the celeb. icons of their day.

Many of us know decadents like Wooten, who mentors Grey, who would rather his servants stole from him than pay them. He doesn't always wear an AIDS lapel as it doesn't always go with what he is wearing. He is a snob who asks: 'Minneapolis? Do they have art there?' He quips: `Monogamy is to love as ideology is to thought; both are failures in imagination.' He ends up bribing the medical staff to bring him drugs when he is in hospital with AIDS

Henry Wotton's neighbour, the "jiggling man" metes out the seconds of physical time for Wotton's existence.

Dorian is described as `completely vapid as well as murderous. A ludicrous, narcissistic pretty boy, with nothing on his mind but sex and sadism [...], selfish
and egotistical."

What is real? Is there a conspiracy feeding us with images of that which is really unreal?: his theory on the Gulf War to Hester Wharton, another of the guests at the Wottons': "Of course", he drawled," the Gulf war never really happened..." "What the hell d'you mean? "[...]"I mean that the Gulf War didn't happen". Dorian held up his hand s and began telling off the fictions on his manicured fingers.
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By Keith M TOP 500 REVIEWER on 11 April 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
It is difficult to conceive of any other author (living or dead) having the chutzpah to reimagine Oscar Wilde’s masterpiece as a 1980s/90s take on the 'British malaise’ embodied here via the drug-addled underclass, privileged few, shady politicians and monarchy (the 'queen of hearts’ herself, no less). Of course, Self manages to satirise (and, no doubt, in some quarters, offend) his 'targets’ with much mordant wit and ire, but, perhaps most remarkably, successfully create a parallel (chapter-by-chapter 'equivalent’) universe in which Wilde’s characters (Dorian, Henry, Basil) now inhabit a Warhol-influenced world of unimaginable sexual debauchery, in which the modern Dorian’s Adonis-like image has been 'immortalised’ via Baz’s video installation Cathode Narcissus.

Given the closeness with which Self’s 'imitation’ matches with Wilde’s original, Dorian also has the effect of immediately prompting me to revisit (for compare and contrast purposes) the 1891 novel, but, in the meantime, even though Self’s version unsurprisingly lacks much of the reserve and subtlety of the original, it nevertheless makes for a compelling read and contains enough narrative twists (including a remarkable, near-revelatory final 20 pages) for it to come highly recommended.
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