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The Picture of Dorian Gray [Paperback]

Oscar Wilde
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (734 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 7, 2013 1936594390 978-1936594399
Dorian Gray, a handsome young man, receives a beautiful painting of himself from his good friend Basil Hallward. In the same moment, a new acquaintance, Lord Henry, introduces Dorian to the ideals of youthfulness and hedonism, of which Gray becomes immediately obsessed. Meanwhile, the painting in Dorian's possession serves as a constant reminder of his passing beauty and youth, driving his obsession.

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. First published in 1890 in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine and the following year in novel form, The Picture of Dorian Gray categorically changed Victorian Britain and the landscape of literature. An ostentatious, self-confessed aesthete, known for his wit and intellect, Wilde not only had to endure his prose being labeled "poisonous" and "vulgar," but also suffer its use as evidence in the ensuing trial, resulting in his eventual imprisonment for crimes of "gross indecency." Frankel's introduction provides a deft preliminary analysis of the novel itself—exploring etymology and extensive editorial alterations (both accidental and deliberate)—and offers valuable insight into the socio-cultural juxtaposition of aristocratic Victorian society and the London underworld. The original typescript provides the unique opportunity to examine what was considered acceptable in both the US and UK at the time. Intriguing annotations allude to Wilde's influences and enterprising range of reference, incorporating art, poetry, literature, Greek mythology, philosophy, and fashion (certain to inspire further reading; an appendix is provided). Comparisons are drawn between Dorian Gray and Wilde's other literary output, as well as to the work of Walter Pater. Numerous illustrations subtly compliment Frankelÿs inferences. A fine contextualization of a major work of fiction profoundly interpreted, ultimately riveting. (Mar.) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 178 pages
  • Publisher: Tribeca Books (November 7, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936594390
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936594399
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (734 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #629,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
278 of 304 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forever young February 6, 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This sophisticated but crude novel is the story of man's eternal desire for perennial youth, of our vanity and frivolity, of the dangers of messing with the laws of life. Just like "Faust" and "The immortal" by Borges.
Dorian Gray is beautiful and irresistible. He is a socialité with a high ego and superficial thinking. When his friend Basil Hallward paints his portrait, Gray expresses his wish that he could stay forever as young and charming as the portrait. The wish comes true.
Allured by his depraved friend Henry Wotton, perhaps the best character of the book, Gray jumps into a life of utter pervertion and sin. But, every time he sins, the portrait gets older, while Gray stays young and healthy. His life turns into a maelstrom of sex, lies, murder and crime. Some day he will want to cancel the deal and be normal again. But Fate has other plans.
Wilde, a man of the world who vaguely resembles Gray, wrote this masterpiece with a great but dark sense of humor, saying every thing he has to say. It is an ironic view of vanity, of superflous desires. Gray is a man destroyed by his very beauty, to whom an unknown magical power gave the chance to contemplate in his own portrait all the vices that his looks and the world put in his hands. Love becomes carnal lust; passion becomes crime. The characters and the scenes are perfect. Wilde's wit and sarcasm come in full splendor to tell us that the world is dangerous for the soul, when its rules are not followed. But, and it's a big but, it is not a moralizing story. Wilde was not the man to do that. It is a fierce and unrepressed exposition of all the ugly side of us humans, when unchecked by nature. To be rich, beautiful and eternally young is a sure way to hell. And the writing makes it a classical novel. Come go with Wotton and Wilde to the theater, and then to an orgy. You'll wish you age peacefully.
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97 of 106 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Thrilling Read March 13, 2000
By Ellen
Format:Paperback
I first was introduced to Dorian Gray through a book club, and I thought 'Oh no, Oscar Wilde, here I go, another hard to read boring society book". I was wrong. Within the first two chapters of Dorian Gray I was intrigued and fascinated. This book deals with several issues that are as important now as they are today: the way our culture worships beauty and youth, an admiration that boarders on homosexual love, virtues, the differences between men and women, and what art is and what makes it truly art. Dorian Gray is a beautiful young man, who sees a portrait of himself and says "How sad it is! I shall grow old, and horrible, and dreadful. But this picture will remain always young...If only it were the other way! If it were I who was to be always young, and the portrait to grow old...I would give my soul for that!" The book takes off from there, leading you from a small theater to great parties. While younger readers may find some of the wording as tough as an old gym shoe, anyone older than 13 with an interest in mystery, romance, and how society runs, will find this a pleasurable and haunting read.
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100 of 110 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Be careful what you wish for June 8, 2002
Format:Paperback
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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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
What made Oscar Wild(e)?
The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press has published a new edition of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. While there is no burning need for such a volume in the day of Lady Gaga and marriage equality, it's important to remember that Wilde spent two years in prison for being gay and for having the guts (stupidity?) to flaunt his sexuality. In many ways, it was the flaunting rather than the act themselves that so angered his persecutors.
And Dorian Gray, his first and only novel, was certainly a shot fired directly into the heart of Victorian prudery.
And in this day of Kindles, e-books and tweets, this is truly a magnificent job of bookmaking. Oversized, lavishly illustrated and gorgeously presented, Oscar would have loved it. The text is examined minutely, with a variety of comparisons from various publications of the novel, as well as Wilde's original manuscript. While there's nothing particularly new to discover in the emendations from the sources, merely a reinforcement of the outrageousness inherent in the piece, the scholarship is both astounding and informative.
The annotator and editor, Nicholas Frankel, easily and effortlessly places the modern reader in Wilde's time and place, London's late Victorian Age in London. There is still a tingle to Dorian's story of endless debauchery while he remains looking pure and innocent for decades and the painting ages and grows monstrous, reflecting his sins and crimes.
Strangely, the book seems more modern than one would imagine. Rather than merely a potboiler from two centuries back, WIlde's genius imbues the story with a strange and haunting immediacy, and a cautionary tale for us all: Be careful what you wish for.
One could hardly wish for a more beautifully accoutered book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Incredible book. The dialogue of Lord Henry, especially, is worth reading on its own.
Published 4 hours ago by Ben Hilburn
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific book
I have had five copies of this book (all at my daughter's now); it is one of the best works of literature I have ever read; I would recommend it very highly to anyone. Read more
Published 7 hours ago by Old dinosaur
3.0 out of 5 stars Do we ever really know Dorian?
This would have made a better play than a novel.

I love a book that gets me thinking about ideas that I was either dimly aware of previously or gave me an insight into... Read more
Published 1 day ago by Dan Harlow
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
Wonderful story intriguing and very sad. Would recommend it to everyone. Nothing like a classic to read on dark stormy nights.
Published 1 day ago by Melissa
4.0 out of 5 stars I finally read it.
I had long to read this book and finally I did. It was interesting and entertaining. I will describe it in my own word as a tale of an intelligent art maker.
Published 6 days ago by Kim Angie
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read with moments of trademark Wilde wit
A good read with moments of trademark Wilde wit, and some good lessons to learn about vanity, cruelty, and selfishness. Read more
Published 7 days ago by jennypenny
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good book!
Published 10 days ago by Cristal
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Really a fantastic book.
Published 15 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Super-Gay
This novella is as homoerotic as it gets. In fact, this book is so extraordinarily gay, Richard Simmons shows up in it. Read more
Published 15 days ago by Sick of It All
5.0 out of 5 stars captivating!
Held my interest the entire time! Amazing how a book written so long ago can still be so entertaining. Read more
Published 20 days ago by susan
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