Death, art, and bodies
Queering the queer Gothic in Will Self ’s Dorian
in Queering the Gothic
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This chapter explores Will Self's novel Dorian, an updated version of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray set in the 1980s and 1990s. It revolves around a gay culture which has been affected by acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). The focus is on Self's novel rather than on how it rewrites Wilde's Dorian Gray, because the emphasis of the enquiry is on the late twentieth century. Self's version of queer Gothic asserts the presence of an identity politics which, in its insistence on a grand debate about life and death, tends to obscure the politics of the queer Gothic. The central anxiety in Dorian concerns a fear of death in a secular culture. Henry Wotton is amongst those who become infected by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), whereas Dorian appears to be immune to disease because his 'body' has been effectively transformed into Baz Hallwood's art installation, Cathode Narcissus.

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