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The Picture of Dorian Gray [Paperback]

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

June 1 1998 Modern Library Classics
Introduction by Jeffrey Eugenides
Written in his distinctively dazzling manner, Oscar Wilde’s story of a fashionable young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty is the author’s most popular work. The tale of Dorian Gray’s moral disintegration caused a scandal when it first appeared in 1890, but though Wilde was attacked for the novel’s corrupting influence, he responded that there is, in fact, “a terrible moral in Dorian Gray.” Just a few years later, the book and the aesthetic/moral dilemma it presented became issues in the trials occasioned by Wilde’s homosexual liaisons, which resulted in his imprisonment. Of Dorian Gray’s relationship to autobiography, Wilde noted in a letter, “Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world thinks me: Dorian what I would like to be—in other ages, perhaps.”

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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
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dorian Gray June 10 2004
By Soujin
This book, which I read quite some time ago but will never cease to love, is a beautiful horror story. The language, the surroundings, even the characters, are gorgeous, but at the same time, everything about them is frightening, and even a little grotesque. Lord Henry is utterly cynical, continually saying things one can never be quite sure he means or is only saying. Dorian is corrupted and horrible, and yet at the same time, one almost thinks he may suddenly stop and try to turn back. Basil is one of the only pure characters in the book, and his devotion to Dorian is sweet, but at the same time, one just /knows/ it will will cause something bad to happen to him--as, ultimately, it does.
This book is a very satisfying read, although some people might be disturbed by the content, which is rather mature. Besides that, the homosexual subtext runs rampant waving a Dorian's picture. This may bother some people, although not yours truly. :)
Personally, I think it's excellent. If you liked Victor Hugo's style, but would rather not hear historic digressions; if you liked Crime and Punishment's moral conflicts, but were highly irritated by the happy ending; if you enjoyed The Invisible Man's supernatural circumstances but would have been satisfied without the scientific explanations, then go forth ye and read Picture of Dorian Gray. (...)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A notable ending March 2 2010
"[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 unexpected ending. The prose was beautiful, and there were many references to roses. The idea of this story is very creative and I was surprised that the story was this interesting. The only problem I had was that there were too many conversations to demonstrate Lord Henry's thoughts.

One day, Basil Hallward, an artist, sees Dorian Gray at a gathering and feels instantly connected to him. Basil feels that Dorian can inspire his work to be tremendous.

Basil befriends Dorian, and asks him to come to his studio so that Dorian can get his picture painted. Dorian is beautiful and young, and Basil always tells him that.

Soon after, however, Basil hints to his friend, Lord Henry, about his strange meeting with and interest in Dorian Gray. And that Dorian has inspired him, and his paintings to be the best that he has ever painted.

Hearing that Dorian is untainted, Lord Henry wants to show Dorian the world, and to help Dorian experience new thoughts and emotions. Although Basil wants to keep Dorian to himself, because he knows the mind games that Lord Henry plays with all of his friends, Henry ends up meeting Dorian by accident, when Dorian comes to the studio. That is how innocent Dorian's life changes.

Later, Lord Henry tells Dorian that he can have everything he wants in his youth, because of his appearance, but that beauty won't last forever. Dorian becomes upset, and after Basil is finished painting picture of him, Dorian wishes that he could look like the Dorian in the picture forever, and that the Dorian in the picture would age instead him.
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disgraceful Aug. 4 2000
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Please refer to page 212 of the Baronet Books version of The Picture of Dorian Gray. The editing error "Did you saw a sailor?"There is another editing error that occurs when the character Alan Campbell comes to see Dorian. A letter is presented to Alan and the reader has no idea what this is about. I am going to try to find another version of this classic. This book was terrible.
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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 2 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 7 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 9 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 11 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
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Using form in two contradictory, yet complimentary ways
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... Read more
Published on Feb. 22 2007 by Shane C. Walters
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
4.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read.
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... Read more
Published on June 4 2004 by Just a girl from SMS
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