I took one creative writing class in college. After the students “performed” my play (the teacher was a theater guy and therefore had us write plays as well as the typical stories and poems), the instructor asked, “Who does this remind you of?” and my classmates answered, “Oscar Wilde.” It was the second best compliment I’ve ever received.
As much as I appreciate Wilde’s writing, I didn’t get around to reading his one novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, until I graduated from college. I love the concept (if you’re not familiar, it’s about a man who retains his attractive, youthful appearance while living a morally despicable life, but his portrait continues to grow more and more grotesque). I didn’t love the book as much as I thought I would, probably because Wilde’s signature writing style was less pronounced–in my opinion–due to the dark subject matter. Still, in my mind, Wilde (as a writer) can do no wrong.
When I watched the British movie version, Dorian Gray, I could barely see the resemblance between the 2 works. I kept saying, “I don’t remember this part in the book,” or “In the book, I don’t think that happened.” Granted, I had read it 6 years ago and I don’t have the best memory, but I was still surprised at how vulgar the movie was. (Not to mention the part when the painting comes to life was something I would have been happy to confine to my imagination. Talk about ruining art galleries for me.)
Unable to make sense of the discrepancy between the 2 Dorian Grays, I started to do some research, and I found an article talking about how the original story was much more “objectionable” than the final printed version. Apparently, back in 1891, even Wilde couldn’t get away with references to “mistresses” and homosexuality. While I detest the concept of censorship, even to the point that I don’t think libraries should ban books simply because they can barely be said to contain “writing” (50 Shades, I’m looking at you), it is kind of comforting to know that even such a great author as Wilde was subjected to the absurdity of society’s closed-mindedness. And, because I love Wilde so much, it is now an aspiration of mine to have one of my books censored. (This is more likely to happen if I actually have a book published, so I will have to deal with that first.)