I had the very unique privilege of interviewing the infamous Dorian Gray in preparation for the writing of my new novel The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray – a sequel to Oscar Wilde’s Gothic masterpiece The Picture of Dorian Gray. For those of you who haven’t yet heard of my book, here is a synopsis:
Inspired by Oscar Wilde’s classic novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, Mitzi Szereto continues where Wilde left off in her Faustian tale of a man with eternal youth and great physical beauty who lives a life of corruption, decadence and hedonism. The story begins in the bordellos of Jazz-Age Paris, moving to the opium dens of Marrakesh and the alluring anonymity of South America. In his pursuit of sensation and carnal thrills, Dorian’s desires turn increasingly extreme and he leaves behind yet more devastation and death. He ultimately settles in present-day New Orleans, joining with a group of like-minded beings known as the Night People. They inadvertently return to Dorian his humanity when he falls in love with a young woman he rescues from becoming their victim. Will she be his redemption? Or will she be his final curse?
And now for our interview!
MITZI: Thank you, Dorian, for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with me. I’ll try to make this interview as painless as possible, since I imagine you have other places you’d much rather be!
DORIAN: My dear, I am pleased to sit here and chat with you. As for being painless, I’ve found that painlessness is vastly undervalued.
MITZI: Indeed. And what do you have to say on the subject of pleasure?
DORIAN: I’ve discovered that they are often one and the same. The important element is sensation. There must be sensation at any cost. I learned this from my dear friend Lord Henry Wotton.
MITZI: Lord Henry was a major influence on you, wasn’t he?
DORIAN: Absolutely! Dear Harry was my mentor as well as my friend. Though I daresay I’ve far exceeded his expectations!
MITZI: Of that I have no doubt. Are there any limitations to your desires – any line you won’t cross in your pursuit of sensation?
DORIAN: Limitations are for the weak and those who fear their innermost desires. I have no such fear. I live for my desires. I see no reason to deprive myself when there is so much pleasure and sensation to be had in this life!
MITZI: Even if the pleasure and sensation is entirely one-sided? If you don’t mind my saying, but surely your victims have not enjoyed the same levels of pleasure and sensation as you have, particularly those who died as a result of them.
DORIAN: Oh, but that is untrue! I can assure you that my – as you refer to them - victims, attained the utmost in pleasure and sensation, even if it was the final pleasure and sensation they were ever to experience. It might even be said that I have been responsible for granting them the ultimate pleasure and sensation, regardless of whether they met their end after the experience.
MITZI: But in so doing, you have destroyed lives. Surely many would say that death is not a fair trade-off for pleasure?
DORIAN: My dear, that is a pedestrian outlook that the truly superior such as myself would take umbrage to.
MITZI: You’re certainly not averse to self-compliments, are you?
DORIAN: I speak as I find. I see no point in doing otherwise – unless, of course, it suits a specific aim of mine. I’ve been known to indulge in a bit of game playing, especially when it’s fraught with danger. Danger, especially when tinged with the threat of personal harm or death, is an excellent aphrodisiac.
MITZI: I’m sure there are those who might disagree on that point, but as they say: to each his or her own.
DORIAN: To each his or her own, indeed!
MITZI: Do you believe that you’ve finally experienced every sensation there is to experience?
DORIAN: That remains to be seen. For it is you who are putting my story onto the page. Therefore we shall let the reader decide.
MITZI: Thank you again for speaking with us today.
DORIAN: Thank you, my dear, for inviting me. Are you perchance available for a late supper this evening? I know the perfect little cafe! Then perhaps afterward you might grant me the opportunity to expand further on the tenets of my philosophy via a demonstration?