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Penguin Classics The Picture Of Dorian Gray [Hardcover]

Oscar Wilde
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (171 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 26 2010 Penguin Classics
Part of "Penguin's" beautiful hardback "Clothbound Classics" series, designed by the award-winning Coralie Bickford-Smith, these delectable and collectible editions are bound in high-quality colourful, tactile cloth with foil stamped into the design. Enthralled by his own exquisite portrait, Dorian Gray exchanges his soul for eternal youth and beauty. Influenced by his friend Lord Henry Wotton, he is drawn into a corrupt double life; indulging his desires in secret while remaining a gentleman in the eyes of polite society. Only his portrait bears the traces of his decadence. The novel was a succes de scandale and the book was later used as evidence against "Wilde at the Old Bailey" in 1895. It has lost none of its power to fascinate and disturb.

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From Amazon

A lush, cautionary tale of a life of vileness and deception or a loving portrait of the aesthetic impulse run rampant? Why not both? After Basil Hallward paints a beautiful, young man's portrait, his subject's frivolous wish that the picture change and he remain the same comes true. Dorian Gray's picture grows aged and corrupt while he continues to appear fresh and innocent. After he kills a young woman, "as surely as if I had cut her little throat with a knife," Dorian Gray is surprised to find no difference in his vision or surroundings. "The roses are not less lovely for all that. The birds sing just as happily in my garden."

As Hallward tries to make sense of his creation, his epigram-happy friend Lord Henry Wotton encourages Dorian in his sensual quest with any number of Wildean paradoxes, including the delightful "When we are happy we are always good, but when we are good we are not always happy." But despite its many languorous pleasures, The Picture of Dorian Gray is an imperfect work. Compared to the two (voyeuristic) older men, Dorian is a bore, and his search for ever new sensations far less fun than the novel's drawing-room discussions. Even more oddly, the moral message of the novel contradicts many of Wilde's supposed aims, not least "no artist has ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style." Nonetheless, the glamour boy gets his just deserts. And Wilde, defending Dorian Gray, had it both ways: "All excess, as well as all renunciation, brings its own punishment." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 10 Up-"The Whole Story" format provides illustrations and annotations to the classic text. Ross's lively and sophisticated cartoons add interest, and historical information helps readers place the novel in proper context and gives insight into its characters. The problem with this attractive, glossy layout, however, is that the text and the quotes pulled from it are not always on the same page. Further, some illustrations and notations visually cut into the narrative and may distract readers. For example, a drawing appears on the first page along with the passage, "In the centre of the room, clamped to an upright easel, stood the full-length portrait of a young man of extraordinary personal beauty," but that quote does not appear until the second page of the story. Useful as a supplement to the original novel, but not a replacement for it.
Karen Hoth, Marathon Middle/High School, FL
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read. June 4 2004
The Picture Of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde is set in London, England. This story is about a young man who grows to be a sinful and terribly vain man driven by love, beauty and art.
The Main character, Dorian Gray, at the beginning of the book is a beautiful and youthful man. Dorian was a man everyone wanted to be around just because he had innocence and he was different. "He has a simple and beautiful nature." Says Basil Hallward. This innocence and beauty changes as he becomes friends with Lord Henry and his values of life change him. Because Dorian was so naïve, Lord Henry lured Dorian into a whole new life and new philosophies about love, beauty and selfishness. This is not the only deep friendship that is developed in this book. Dorian also becomes friends with Basil Hallward and Basil paints a portrait of Dorian and Basil puts his whole heart into this painting for it to ultimately destroy himself and Dorian. Anyway, Dorian wishes that he could stay young all his life and always be beautiful. As he grows older Dorian does many terrible and shocking things but he still remains beautiful and untouched while his painting of himself shows the real nasty, terrible, and corrupted Dorian.
One part of the book that really captivated me is when Dorian murder's one of his good friends. I think this is one of the turning points in the book because I believe Dorian realizes that life shouldn't be based on the appearance of things but more about quality and spirit. Dorian understands that his lifestyle of upscale parties with London's elite, and his friendship with Lord Henry is not all that it seems to be. You can see that after Dorian murders someone he questions himself and the painting because he realizes what the painting has done to him.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Every picture tells a story Feb. 28 2004
By Vilbs
Rod Stewert once sang that "every picture tells a story", and in no case is this more true than of one Dorian Gray. By now everyone knows that young Dorian makes a childish wish that a beautiful portrait of his should age in his stead, and that he should remain forever young and vibrant, and somehow this wish is granted. What follows is a tale of increasing debauchery and depravity that poison a man's soul, while leaving no visible clue upon his face.
This is not the most entertaining or gripping novel that you will ever read. Far from it, in fact, but the real merits of the novel come not from the action and plot, but from the extremely clever dialogue and the shredding social commentary. (not surprisingly, this novel took a long time to get published, and was later used as evidence against Wilde during his trial for indecency) Wilde takes several shots at the aristocracy, especially their values, as well as art itself, hedonism, and the very concept of morality.
Perhaps the finest aspect of the novel are Wilde's quotes, often through his favorite mouthpiece: Lord Henry Wotton. Henry serves as a goad to Dorian through all of his excesses, and he waxes philosophical upon almost any subject that he can get anyone to listen to. He's wonderful and horrible all at once, and best of all, he doesn't even believe half of what he says. This is definitely a 'classic' novel, and well worth the read. Again, if you're expecting high paced action you'd probably best look elsewhere, but if you're in the mood to think a bit, then chances are you'll enjoy "The Picture of Dorian Gray".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The picture that figures so prominently in Oscar Wilde's novel contradicts not the aesthetic doctrine of art divorced from morality but its more extreme offshoot: that of living life as an expression of making art, free of moral considerations. For it is one thing to insist that "all art is quite useless"--that is, without overt moral value--and another to direct behaviour in the real world towards others according to a creed of misinterpreted Epicureanism, for sensation's sake only. Wilde warned of the necessity for morals in the real world as separate from any idea of morality driving art, even though in his own storied existence he sometimes crossed that boundary. His triumph lay in using an art form, the novel, to moralize, while refuting the idea that art should be driven by moral considerations; he critiqued excess while expounding aesthetics in art. The painting's existence reveals the dangerous consequences of blurring the distinction between art and life by its unflinching reflection of Dorian Gray's moral decay; it frees him to live immorally yet exacts its price in pangs of subordinated conscience. But the picture is supernatural in the Gothic sense, an artistic device created by Wilde to illustrate a moral. As a work of art within an art form, it influences--and is influenced by--Dorian's behaviour, essentially tying together perforce themes of art and life that need not ordinarily be so entwined in real life. Full of ironies and ironic statements, the novel's overall context offers a repudiation of the kind of extreme aestheticism that entails living life by artistic criteria. A big work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Be careful what you wish for July 14 2006
By Daniel Jolley TOP 50 REVIEWER
The Picture of Dorian Gray is a mesmerizing read dominated by two amazing personalities. Dorian Gray is certainly interesting, but I was much more impressed by his friend and mentor Lord Henry Wotton. Dorian is a perfectly nice, well-meaning young man when we first meet him in the studio of the painter Basil Hallward. Hallward in fact is so drawn to the youth that he draws his greatest inspiration from painting him and just being with him. It is the influence of Hallward's friend Lord Henry which leads to Gray's downfall. There are few characters in literature as decadent, witty, and somehow enchanting as Lord Henry. He is never at a loss for words, fatalistic observations of life and people, sarcastic philosophical musings, and brilliantly devious ideas. Among his world of social decadents and artistic do-nothings, his charm remains redoubtable and highly sought-after. Gray immediately falls under his spell, soon devoting himself to living life to its fullest and enjoying his youth and beauty to the utmost. He solemnly wishes that he could remain young and beautiful forever, that Hallward's exquisite picture of him should bear the marks of age and debauchery rather than himself. To his surprise and ultimate horror, he finds his wish fulfilled. Small lines and creases first appear in the portrait, but after he cruelly breaks the heart of an unfortunate young actress who then takes her own life, the first real signs of horror and blood manifest themselves on his portrait. His love for the ill-fated Sibyl Vane is a sordid, heartbreaking tale, and it marks the culmination of his descent into debauchery. He frequents opium dens and houses of ill repute, justifying all of his worst actions to himself, while the influence of Lord Henry continues to work its black magic on his soul. Read more ›
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars penguin publishers are fantastic.
fast delivery and great book. i love penguin publishers for promoting artists and illustrators with the threads and deluxe editions collections. my bookshelf looks great! Read more
Published 4 months ago by w nichiporuk
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing!
This very famous novel by Oscar Wilde presents a shallow, implausible plot. Is the ageing process really related to the evil deeds one does rather than to biology? Read more
Published 8 months ago by Pierre Gauthier
5.0 out of 5 stars Who wants to look young forever?
Basil, who up until now was a mediocre painter after meeting Dorian Gray a young Adonis, was inspired to create a masterpiece of which he puts himself into. Read more
Published 11 months ago by bernie
4.0 out of 5 stars Birthday Gift
This was a birthday gift for my grand daughter and she has enjoyed it very much. I don't know what else to say
Published 13 months ago by Secondchild
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful so far
I'm only 1/4 of the way through as I am reading 3 other books right now, but so far I find this to be a most wonderful book.
Published on May 2 2010 by Ashlee L. Galletta
4.0 out of 5 stars A notable ending
"[W]hat does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose ... his own soul?'" (Chapter XIX)

The Picture of Dorian Gray was entertaining to read and had an... Read more
Published on March 2 2010 by Sam
5.0 out of 5 stars Who wants to look young forever?
Basil, who up until now was a mediocre painter after meeting Dorian Gray a young Adonis, was inspired to create a masterpiece of which he puts himself into. Read more
Published on Nov. 24 2007 by bernie
3.0 out of 5 stars Hopelessly Ambiguous or Unambiguously Hopeful?
Who knows? But right-wing orthodox Catholic monarchist readers will be required to steel themselves through the first two chapters which consist of a drawn-out slap fight between... Read more
Published on July 5 2004 by Loudon Is A Fool
5.0 out of 5 stars Bonafide classic
Beautiful on the outside, ugly on the inside. That's Dorian Gray and the symbolism couldn't be more relevant today. Read more
Published on June 14 2004 by bookworm
5.0 out of 5 stars Dorian Gray
This book, which I read quite some time ago but will never cease to love, is a beautiful horror story. Read more
Published on June 10 2004 by Soujin
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