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The Picture of Dorian Gray Paperback – November 7, 2013

915 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1936594399 ISBN-10: 1936594390

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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 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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 178 pages
  • Publisher: Tribeca Books (November 7, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936594390
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936594399
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (915 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #947,459 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

305 of 331 people found the following review helpful By Guillermo Maynez on 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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113 of 123 people found the following review helpful By Ellen on March 13, 2000
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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107 of 119 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Jolley HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Linda Bulger VINE VOICE on June 17, 2008
Format: Audio Cassette
Is your soul a good bargaining chip for perpetual youth and beauty? Young Dorian Gray was led to believe so and impulsively struck that bargain. "The Picture of Dorian Gray" is the story of his decline into depravity following that ill-advised trade-off. The story is well-known in popular culture. An artist becomes obsessed with his young model's attractiveness. He and his jaded friend compete for influence over the young man. The friend corrupts young Dorian, encourages him to embrace a life of sensual pleasure and to prize his own beauty. Dorian exclaims that he resents the portrait because IT will keep the freshness of youth -- then the fateful words, that he would give his soul if the picture could decay instead of his own face and body.

Be careful what you wish for! Over the next twenty years Dorian sinks into the depths of moral slime and watches the hidden portrait show all the signs of that immorality, while his own face and figure keep the blush of youth.

Along with the adulation of youth and beauty, Oscar Wilde delves into the theme of art as morally neutral, a principle of the aesthetic school of thought. Can art be moral or immoral? Should it teach us, improve us? That was the common 19th century view but the school of aestheticism believed that the arts had no role in moral enlightenment. The preface of the book lays out this theme in a series of proclamations.

The entire book, like all of Wilde's work, is packed with "sound bites." The corrupting friend, Lord Henry Wotton, is particularly prone to Polonius-like declamations, and Dorian tells him, "You cut life to pieces with your epigrams!" In fact Wilde does that, ripping into polite society and the opium dens of London alike.
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