Alicante Journal of English Studies / Revista Alicantina de Estudios Ingleses

Retro-Victorianism and the simulacrum of art in Will Self's Dorian: An imitation

José María Yebra Pertusa



This essay aims at exploring Will Self’s novel Dorian: An Imitation (2002) as a postmodernist revision of Oscar Wilde’s celebrated The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891). Exceptional for ones, immoral and shameful for others, Dorian: An Imitation fosters an intertextual relation with the late-Victorian hypotext whereby both texts are transformed out of a refractory process. Like its predecessor, Self’s novel is primarily interested in aesthetic issues. In this light, my main concern consists in analysing the artistic discourses that Dorian: An Imitation reflects and deflects in the era of simulation. Likewise, I examine how the novel delves into the problematic relationship between “reality” and “fiction”, original and simulacra. At the turn of the millennium, when virtual reality/ies are generated by computers, literature has a challenge which, in my view, Self’s novel deals with. Thus, from the theories of simulation proposed by Jean Baudrillard and, to a lesser extent, Gilles Deleuze, my essay confronts Dorian as a valuable text: it adapts the discourse of new technologies to literary language; it goes into the postmodernist ontological crisis; and, finally, it opens up the debate of aesthetic interaction between the canon and new literatures.


English literature; Self, Will; Dorian: An Imitation; Wilde, Oscar; The Picture of Dorian Gray


Copyright (c) 2010 José María Yebra Pertusa

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