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The Picture of Dorian Gray [Paperback]

Oscar Wilde , Jeffrey Eugenides
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (169 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 1 1998 0375751513 978-0375751516 New edition
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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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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The studio was filled with the rich odour of roses, and when the light summer wind stirred amidst the trees of the garden, there came through the open door the heavy scent of lilac, or the more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn. Read the first page
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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
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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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 5 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 10 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 12 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 14 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
5.0 out of 5 stars Be careful what you wish for
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... Read more
Published on July 14 2006 by Daniel Jolley
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
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