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The Picture of Dorian Gray Paperback – Feb 23 1998

4.2 out of 5 stars 203 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Broadview Press; Revised ed. edition (Feb. 23 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1551111268
  • ISBN-13: 978-0641935381
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.4 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 299 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 203 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #399,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From the Publisher

Here in one volume are his immensely popular novel, The Picture Of Dorian Gray ; his last literary work, the Ballad Of Reading Goal, a product of his own prison experience; and four complete plays:Lady Windermere's Fan, his first dramatic success; An Ideal Husband, which continued to poke fun at conventional morality; The Importance Of Being Earnest, his finest comedy; and Salome, a portrait of uncontrollable love originally written in French, now in a new translation by Richard Elman. Every selection appears in its entirely--a marvelous collection of outstanding works by the incomparable Oscar Wilde, whom Max Beerbohm so aptly labeled "a lord of language." --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

CHAPTER I

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 the lilac, or the more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn.

From the corner of the divan of Persian saddle-bags on which he was lying, smoking, as was his custom, innumerable cigarettes, Lord Henry Wotton could just catch the gleam of the honey-sweet and honey-coloured blossoms of a laburnum, whose tremulous branches seemed hardly able to bear the burden of a beauty so flame-like as theirs; and now and then the fantastic shadows of birds in flight flitted across the tussore-silk curtains that were stretched in front of the huge window, producing a kind of momentary Japanese effect, and making him think of those pallid jade-faced painters of Tokio who, through the medium of an art that is necessarily immobile, seek to convey the sense of swiftness and motion. The sullen murmur of the bees shouldering their way through the long unmown grass, or circling with monotonous insistence round the dusty gilt horns of the straggling woodbine, seemed to make the stillness more oppressive. The dim roar of London was like the bourdon note of a distant organ.

In the centre of the room, clamped to an upright easel, stood the full-length portrait of a young man of extraordinary personal beauty, and in front of it, some little distance away, was sitting the artist himself, Basil Hallward, whose sudden disappearance some years ago caused, at the time, such public excitement, and gave rise to so many strange conjectures.

As the painter looked at the gracious and comely form he had so skilfully mirrored in his art, a smile of pleasure passed across his face, and seemed about to linger there. But he suddenly started up, and, closing his eyes, placed his fingers upon the lids, as though he sought to imprison within his brain some curious dream from which he feared he might awake.

"It is your best work, Basil, the best thing you have ever done," said Lord Henry, languidly. "You must certainly send it next year to the Grosvenor. The Academy is too large and too vulgar. Whenever I have gone there, there have been either so many people that I have not been able to see the pictures, which was dreadful, or so many pictures that I have not been able to see the people, which was worse. The Grosvenor is really the only place."

"I don't think I shall send it anywhere," he answered, tossing his head back in that odd way that used to make his friends laugh at him at Oxford. "No: I won't send it anywhere."

Lord Henry elevated his eyebrows, and looked at him in amazement through the thin blue wreaths of smoke that curled up in such fanciful whorls from his heavy opium-tainted cigarette. "Not send it anywhere? My dear fellow, why? Have you any reason? What odd chaps you painters are! You do anything in the world to gain a reputation. As soon as you have one, you seem to want to throw it away. It is silly of you, for there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about. A portrait like this would set you far above all the young men in England, and make the old men quite jealous, if old men are ever capable of any emotion."

"I know you will laugh at me," he replied, "but I really can't exhibit it I have put too much of myself into it."

Lord Henry stretched himself out on the divan and laughed.

"Yes, I knew you would; but it is quite true, all the same."

"Too much of yourself in it!  Upon my word, Basil, I didn't know you were so vain; and I really can't see any resemblance between you, with your rugged strong face and your coal-black hair, and this young Adonis, who looks as if he was made out of ivory and rose-leaves. Why, my dear Basil, he is a Narcissus, and you — well, of course you have an intellectual expression, and all that. But beauty, real beauty, ends where an intellectual expression begins. Intellect is in itself a mode of exaggeration, and destroys the harmony of any face. The moment one sits down to think, one becomes all nose, or all forehead, or something horrid. Look at the successful men in any of the learned professions. How perfectly hideous they are! Except, of course, in the Church. But then in the Church they don't think. A bishop keeps on saying at the age of eighty what he was told to say when he was a boy of eighteen, and as a natural consequence he always looks absolutely delightful. Your mysterious young friend, whose name you have never told me, but whose picture really fascinates me, never thinks. I feel quite sure of that. He is some brainless, beautiful creature, who should be always here in winter when we have no flowers to look at, and always here in summer when we want something to chill our intelligence. Don't flatter yourself, Basil: you are not in the least like him.

"You don't understand me, Harry," answered the artist. "Of course I am not like him. I know that perfectly well. Indeed, I should be sorry to look like him. You shrug your shoulders? I am telling you the truth. There is a fatality about all physical and intellectual distinction, the sort of fatality that seems to dog through history the faltering steps of kings. It is better not to be different from one's fellows. The ugly and the stupid have the best of it in this world. They can sit at their ease and gape at the play. If they know nothing of victory, they are at least spared the knowledge of defeat. They live as we all should live, undisturbed, indifferent, and without disquiet. They neither bring ruin upon others, nor ever receive it from alien hands. Your rank and wealth, Harry; my brains, such as they are — my art, whatever it may be worth; Dorian Gray's good looks — we shall all suffer for what the gods have given us, suffer terribly."

"Dorian Gray? Is that his name?" asked Lord Henry, walking across the studio towards Basil Hallward.

"Yes, that is his name. I didn't intend to tell it to you."

"But why not?"

"Oh, I can't explain. When I like people immensely I never tell their names to any one. It is like surrendering a part of them. I have grown to love secrecy. It seems to be the one thing that can make modern life mysterious or marvellous to us. The commonest thing is delightful if one only hides it. When I leave town now I never tell my people where I am going. If I did, I would lose all my pleasure. It is a silly habit, I dare say, but somehow it seems to bring a great deal of romance to one's life. I suppose you think me awful foolish about it?"

"Not at all," answered Lord Henry, "not at all, my dear Basil. You seem to forget that I am married, and the one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties. I never know where my wife is, and my wife never knows what I am doing. When we meet — we do meet occasionally, when we dine out together, or go down to the Duke's — we tell each other the most absurd stories with the most serious faces. My wife is very good at it, much better, in fact, than I am. She never gets confused over her dates, and I always do. But when she does find me out, she makes no row at all. I sometimes wish she would; but she merely laughs at me."

"I hate the way you talk about your married life, Harry," said Basil Hallward, strolling towards the door that led into the garden. "I believe that you are really a very good husband, but that you are thoroughly ashamed of your own virtues. You are an extraordinary fellow. You never say a moral thing, and you never do a wrong thing. Your cynicism is simply a pose."

"Being natural is simply a pose, and the most irritating pose I know," cried Lord Henry, laughing; and the two young men went out into the garden together, and ensconced themselves on a long bamboo seat that stood in the shade of a tall laurel bush. The sunlight slipped over the polished leaves. In the grass, white daisies were tremulous.

After a pause, Lord Henry pulled out his watch. "I am afraid I must be going, Basil," he murmured, "and before you go, I insist on your answering a question I put to you some time ago."

"What is that?" said the painter, keeping his eyes fixed on the ground.

"You know quite well."

"I do not, Harry."

"Well, I will tell you what it is. I want you to explain to me why you won't exhibit Dorian Gray's picture. I want the real reason."

"I told you the real reason."

"No you did not. You said it was because there was too much of yourself in it. Now, that is childish."

"Harry," said Basil Hallward, looking him straight in the face, "every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter. The sitter is merely the accident, the occasion. It is not he who is revealed by the painter; it rather the painter who, on the coloured canvas, reveals himself. The reason I will not exhibit the picture is that I am afraid that I have shown in it the secret of my soul."

Lord Henry laughed. "And what is that?" he asked.

"I will tell you," said Hallward; but an expression of perplexity came over his face.

"I am all expectation, Basil," continued his companion, glancing at him.

"Oh, there is really very little to tell, Harry," answered the painter; "and I am afraid you will hardly understand it. Perhaps you will hardly believe it."

Lord Henry smiled, and, leaning down, plucked a pink-petalled daisy from the grass, and examined it. "I am quite sure I shall understand it," he replied, gazing intently at the little golden white-feathered disk, "and as for believing things, I can believe anything, provided that it is quite incredible."

The wind shook some blossoms from the trees, and the heavy lilac-blooms, with their clustering stars, moved to and fro in the languid air. A grasshopper began to chirrup by the wall, and like a blue thread a long thing dragon-fly floated past on its brown gauze wings. Lord Henry felt as if he could hear Basil Hallward's heart beating, and wondered what was coming.

"The story is simply this," and the painter after some time. "Two months ago I went to a crush at Lady Brandon's. You know we poor artists have to show ourselves in society from time to time, just to remind the public that we are not savages. With an evening coat and a white tie, as you told me once, anybody, even a stockbroker, can gain a reputation for being civilized. Well, after I had been in the room about ten minutes, talking to huge over-dressed dowagers and tedious Academicians, I suddenly became conscious that some one was looking at me. I turned half-way round, and saw Dorian Gray for the first time. When our eyes met, I felt that I was growing pale. A curious sensation of terror came over me. I knew that I had come face to face with some one whose mere personality was so fascinating that, if I allowed it to do so, it would absorb my whole nature, my soul, my very art itself. I did not want any external influence in my life. You know I did not want any external influence in my life. I have always been my own master; had at least always been so, till I met Dorian Gray. Then— but I don't know how to explain it to you. Something seemed to tell me that I was on the verge of a terrible crisis in my life. I had a strange feeling that Fate had in store for me exquisite joys and exquisite sorrows. I grew afraid, and turned to quite the room. It was not conscience that made me do so; it was a sort of cowardice. I take no credit to myself for trying to escape."

"Conscience and cowardice are really the same things, Basil. Conscience is the trade-name of the firm. That is all."

"I don't believe that, Harry, and I don't believe you do either. However, whatever was my motive — and it may have been pride, for I used to be very proud — I certainly struggled to the door. There, of course, I stumbled against Lady Brandon. 'You are not going to run away so soon, Mr. Hallward?' she screamed out. You know her curiously shrill voice?"

"Yes; she is a peacock in everything but beauty," said Lord Henry, pulling the daisy to bits with his long, nervous fingers.

"I could not get rid of her. She brought me up to Royalties, and people with Stars and Garters, and elderly ladies with gigantic tiaras and parrot noses. She spoke of me as her dearest friend. I had only met her once before, but she took it into her head to lionize me. I believe some picture of mine had made a great success at the time, at least had been chattered about in the penny newspapers, which is the nineteenth-century standard of immortality. Suddenly I found myself face to face with the young man whose personality had so strangely stirred me. We were quite close, almost touching. Our eyes met again. It was reckless of me, but I asked Lady Brandon to introduce me to him. perhaps it was not so reckless, after all. It was simply inevitable. We would have spoken to each other without any introduction. I am sure of that. Dorian told me so afterwards. He, too, felt that we were destined to know each other." --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Top Customer Reviews

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What do people enjoy more than a fail from grace? A fall from grace that has a sense of retributive justice. It is a dark and satisfying tale of the transformation of a angel to a fallen devil. Great read.
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Format: Paperback
This is the most beautiful book I have ever read.

The writing in this book is captivating and the philosophy is interesting. I was enraptured immediately, impressed by the world that Wilde presented to me with such detail. His use of language is amazing, and the book deserves to be read slowly and with great attention so that no detail is missed. The ideas presented by each of the characters are interesting, and they do not need to be agreed with in order to be appreciated.

The characters are interesting ones. Their philosophies provide the story with a cause for the events that unfold, and provide us with many things to ponder. The dialogue is intriguing when it involves discussions of life theories, and is amusing when wit is used in social conversations. Watching Dorian move from an innocent man to a hedonistic one is fascinating, and the way the writing changes from describing his youthful innocence to describing his decadent lifestyle is skillfully done. Basil's fascination and obsession with his best muse is engaging, and Lord Henry's influence supplies the story with what it needed to begin.

Lord Henry's character is just as interesting as Dorian's, if not more so. Dorian tries to live the life that Henry glorifies, falling prey to his words as he tries to imitate everything the older man seems to praise. But he himself does not engage in any of the degeneration that he lauds, instead encouraging the youth while he remains safe in his hypocrisy. In the end, despite his negative influence on Dorian and his views on life, he was the only one that remained both unaffected and safe.
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By Bernie TOP 100 REVIEWER on April 17 2016
Format: Paperback
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. Against Basil's wishes, Dorian Gray is influenced by Basil's friend Lord Henry. Dorian looks at his portrait and realizes that while the portrait will stay young forever, he will grow old; so Dorian makes a wish that if only he could stay young forever and the portrait can age.

At first Dorian does not realize his wishes been granted. He falls in love with a beautiful young actress who is every woman that Shakespeare ever wrote about. But once again due to Lord Henry's influence, he realizes that she's just a common girl.

Starting with absent-minded acts Dorian slowly sinks into debauchery. And with every new act his picture becomes more grotesque while Dorian stays is young and as innocent looking as the day his picture was painted.
What will become of Dorian?
What will become of Dorian's painting?
What would you do if you were Dorian?

Oscar Wilde paints a picture himself as he describes Dorian Gray's dilemma. And we as readers travel with Dorian as each decision is made. In some places in the story Oscar Wilde seems to drag on and on with detail; however we find that this detail is necessary to set the next scene.

Oscar Wilde himself led a risky life that lead to a jail sentence; is attitudes can be seen in the dialogues in this book.

The Picture of Dorian Gray Starring: George Sanders, Hurd Hatfield
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By Bernie TOP 100 REVIEWER on April 17 2016
Format: Paperback
At first Dorian does not realize his wishes been granted. He falls in love with a beautiful young actress who is every woman that Shakespeare ever wrote about. But once again due to Lord Henry's influence, he realizes that she's just a common girl.

Starting with absent-minded acts Dorian slowly sinks into debauchery. And with every new act his picture becomes more grotesque while Dorian stays is young and as innocent looking as the day his picture was painted.
What will become of Dorian?
What will become of Dorian's painting?
What would you do if you were Dorian?

Oscar Wilde paints a picture himself as he describes Dorian Gray's dilemma. And we as readers travel with Dorian as each decision is made. In some places in the story Oscar Wilde seems to drag on and on with detail; however we find that this detail is necessary to set the next scene.

Oscar Wilde himself led a risky life that lead to a jail sentence; is attitudes can be seen in the dialogues in this book.
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Format: Paperback
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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