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Labyrinths of DeceitCulture, Modernity and Identity in the Nineteenth Century$
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Richard J. Walker

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780853238492

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846315404

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The psychopathology of everyday narcissism: Oscar Wilde's picture

The psychopathology of everyday narcissism: Oscar Wilde's picture

(p.91) 3 The psychopathology of everyday narcissism: Oscar Wilde's picture
Labyrinths of Deceit
Liverpool University Press

Oscar Wilde's 1891 novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, is a seminal representation of duality and its effect upon autonomous and individual identity. Offering a Gothic vision of London from the perspective of an outsider, it critiques the ‘shallow psychology’ of those who believe in an integrated self. Dorian is conscious of the legacies of the past, consistent with Marshall Berman's analysis of the experience of modernity in the nineteenth century. Dorian's apparent attempt to exercise free will, assert an autonomous identity, and renounce narcissism all result in his destruction. Wilde thus masterfully negotiates the contradictory and paradoxical terrain between surfaces and depths as well as fin de siècle narcissism.

Keywords:   Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, duality, identity, London, psychology, modernity, narcissism, free will

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