“WITTY AND ELEGANT AS WELL AS TERRIFYING AND SEVERELY MORAL”: WILDE’S MASTERPIECE, THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY, ONE OF ONLY 250 LARGE-PAPER COPIES SIGNED BY OSCAR WILDE
WILDE, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray. London, New York & Melbourne: Ward Lock, 1891. Octavo, original three-quarter vellum gilt, beveled gray boards, gilt butterfly designs, top edge gilt, uncut and largely unopened. Housed in custom half vellum gilt clamshell box.
Rare and most desirable large-paper first signed limited edition of Oscar Wilde’s only novel—an unforgettably dark tale of vanity and temptation, considered by many to be the author’s greatest work—number 242 of only 250 copies printed on Van Gelder handmade paper, signed by Wilde.
“Wilde had in mind a type of Gothic novel suitable for the modern world, witty and elegant as well as terrifying and as severely moral as any of the parables of his Victorian forbears” (Fantasy and Horror 1-152). Considered by many Wilde’s greatest work, The Picture of Dorian Gray is also his only novel, combining the supernatural elements of the Gothic novel with the sins of French decadent fiction. Wilde insists in the Preface, “There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That’s all” (p. vi). Critics nevertheless attacked the work for its immorality. Though Wilde claimed, “I wrote this book entirely for my own pleasure… Whether it becomes popular or not is a matter of absolute indifference to me,” he also responded to critics: “Leave my book, I beg you, to the immortality that it deserves.” This deluxe signed edition is of considerably greater rarity and value than the unsigned first trade edition issued a few months earlier. At least one contemporary review praised this edition in particular: “the book, with its unique and piquant binding and lettering, its characteristic title page and yet more characteristic preface, is a delight to eye and hand” (Glasgow Herald). Title page, half title and cover designed by Charles Ricketts, who designed the bindings of many Wilde volumes. Mason 329.
Expertly recased with minor repairs and new endpapers, with new gilt on spine only. Desirable and in excellent condition.