I haven't read the book but I've just seen Mr. Self peddling it at a conference at the V & A.
He blatantly said that The Picture of Dorian Gray was a badly written book, and the characters of Cybil Vane and Basil had no spine and were just headpieces. (It was not entirely tongue in cheek - as the man is beyond pretentious and "self"-obsessed).
Your review accurately describes the idea I held of the kind of book:" Dorian - An Imitation" might be.
There was a so- called "Wilde erudite" (according to the mistress of ceremony) aiding Mr. Self in this act of blatant self-promotion through putting down the original masterpiece. He and Mr. Self couldn't recall the name of the Marquess of Queensberry. People in the audience had to clue them in. I paid 9 pounds for that!
It would be great if Oscar Wilde was remembered, first and foremost, as a writer and not as an untouchable gay icon/martyr.
Most of the lecture concentrated on homosexuality and the validity of Oscar Wilde as a gay icon, when the lecture was portrayed as a companion event to the Cult of Beauty exhibition.
One would assume a parallel with the Aesthetic movement would have been made, but Mr. Self brushed off that movement as not being significant. (Possibly because he knew nothing about it.) "Shock for shock's sake." Marketing 101": Appear to criticise the work of those who have come before you as irrelevant, in order to claim the modernity of yours."
The debate about Oscar Wilde's validity as a gay icon, the boring details about the writer's research conducted in the gay world (the writer is straight), detracted from the subject at hand: "How do you write a novel based on the Picture of Dorian Gray? How is your work and that of the original book influenced by the Aesthetic movement?"
Surely, the general public is well informed of the happenings within the gay world, through the amount of movies and books devoted to the subject. Is there anyone who doesn't know what happens in bathhouses? Or is ignorant of the degree of promiscuity that is part of a lot of gay men's lives? At this point, I would find more shocking to know he visited a gay teahouse where all members would have made a vow of chastity.
Mr. Self made the assumption:" The Picture of Dorian Gray" was a "coming out" book. Like a lot of people, he assumed that the artist's or writer's sexual orientation necessarily meant the book was a tool to express/defend such identity.
I was under the impression the lecture was about how Mr. Self got to write his book, and was hoping to gain knowledge and interesting hindsight about the Picture of Dorian Gray.
Mr. Self also accused Oscar Wilde of setting up the gay liberation backwards. He claimed the trial had opened the door to persecution of gay men, who had, till then, been living their sexual lives quietly and in relative safety. It's been assumed that the general population was suddenly made aware, through the trial, that there were "somdomites" among them.
Mr. Wilde merely underlined that there were male of all strata of the population, engaging in gay sex. People seem to forget that Mr. Wilde was part of the upper classes. Certainly, he would not have committed social and career suicide to become the spokesperson for the gay men of his time.
The trial was an excuse to bring him down, from a society who hated his arrogance and envied his talent. It ended up serving as the trial of homosexual practices and the condemnation of homosexuality( men homosexuality). However, it is my belief that it started as a personal vendetta against Mr. Wilde.
He was living a life full of choices, on his own terms, able to indulge all his appetites, while his contemporaries, still had to curtail their desires or indulge in them secretly.
Mr. Self argued that the gay liberation would have happened more organically and progressed faster without the shock value of a trial. One can always rewrite history.
I would also like to mention that there are also lesbians in the gay community: gay liberation is not only about the boys.
Interestingly, Oscar Wilde's niece was a lesbian. I suggest you read her biography, she is a very interesting character and creative personality.
I'm not sure Mr. Wilde would have chosen to become a gay icon. For one thing, it hurt his career as a writer. I'm not sure it would have been something he would have relinquished willingly for the sake of freedom of sexual expression. He was, first and foremost, a writer.
The element that seems to have been forgotten is that he was deeply in love with Lord Alfred Douglas. It's reasonable to assume he went through with the trial out of love for him.
In:"De Profundis", Oscar Wilde confessed he sued for libel to aid in the redemption of Lord Alfred Douglas, nowhere is it mentioned he wanted to out himself and become a gay hero.
Much was made of his dealing with rent boys, but in:"De Profundis", he mentioned he mostly indulged in rent boys to please Mr. Alfred Douglas.
Mr.Self said Wilde was arrogant in thinking his wit would save him from condemnation. Yet, when it was clear he was going to be condemned, he made the choice to stay and face the consequences of the verdict: an act of courage and humility.
Surely, Mr. Wilde would cringe at people ripping up his work and, on top of that, calling it badly written. He would probably find the term:"arrogant" very applicable to that sort of behaviour.
I haven't read any books about Mr. Self but that particular event didn't make me want to spend one cent in the advancement of such a pretentious person. He is all fluff, and perfect for this century of mindless amusement.
Read "The Portrait of Dorian Gray", and research the life and works of Mr.Wilde. At least, he had respect for the writers who had come before him.He was a scholar and a Classicist, not the shallow Pop Culture darling draped in epigrams and fruity Aesthetic poses that people like Mr.Self want him to be, for the purpose of making themselves look more talented and interesting than their Facebook, sound-byte-friendly personalities.
Apologies for the original poster for veering off subject.