The Picture of Dorian Gray, a story of morals, psychology and poetic justice, has furnished Oscar Wilde with the status of a classical writer. It takes place in 19th-century England, and tells of a man in the bloom of his youth who will remain forever young. Basil Hallward is a merely average painter until he meets Dorian Gray and becomes his friend. But Dorian, who is blessed with an angelic beauty, inspires Hallward to create his ultimate masterpiece. Awed by the perfection of this rendering, he utters the wish to be able to retain the good looks of his youth while the picture were the one to deteriorate with age. But when Dorian discovers the painting cruelly altered and realizes that his wish has been fulfilled, he ponders changing his hedonistic approach. Dorian Gray's sharp social criticism has provoked audible controversy and protest upon the book's 1890 publication, and only years later was it to rise to classical status. Written in the style of a Greek tragedy, it is popularly interpreted as an analogy to Wilde's own tragic life. Despite this, the book is laced with the right amounts of the author's perpetual jaunty wit.