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Meeting a 'pansy'


Oscar Wilde
Diana Athill Writer
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I had no idea what it was that was so awful about him [Oscar Wilde]. My grandmother said, 'Oh, dreadful man, dreadful man', but she didn't ever say why. And it didn't really… it's not apparent. I mean, if you read him, his rather charming fantasy, sort of fairy stories and indeed, even when you read the one which is always supposed to be such a giveaway… what's it called? The one about the portrait up in the gallery?

[Q] [The Picture of] Dorian Gray.

And I read Dorian Gray, which I had vaguely, I think, understood somehow, through something that somebody had said, that this was a sort of clue as to why he was so awful. And I read Dorian Gray and was no wiser.

Diana Athill (1917-2019) was a British literary editor whose publishing career began when she helped André Deutsch establish his company. She worked with many notable writers, namely Philip Roth, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean Rhys and VS Naipaul. Following the publication of her memoirs, she came to be hailed as an author in her own right.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is a London-based television producer and director who has made a number of documentary films for BBC TV, Channel 4 and PBS.

Tags: The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde

Duration: 45 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2008

Date story went live: 23 December 2008