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The Picture of Dorian Gray Paperback – July 23, 2015
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<div><div>"A heady late-Victorian tale of double-living, in which Dorian's fatal, corruptive influence over women and men alike is suggestively indistinct." Sarah Waters, author, Fingersmith</div></div> --hhh
<div><div>"Every line that Wilde ever wrote affected me so enormously." Morrissey, musician</div></div> --hhh
About the Author
Oscar Wilde was born on October 16, 1854, to the Irish nationalist and writer Speranza Wilde and the doctor William Wilde. After graduating from Oxford in 1878, Wilde moved to London, where he became notorious for his sharp wit and flamboyant style of dress.
Though he was publishing plays and poems throughout the 1880s, it wasn t until the late 1880s and early 1890s that his work started to be received positively. In 1895, Oscar Wilde was tried for homosexuality and was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison. Tragically, this downfall came at the height of his career, as his plays, An Ideal Husband "and The Importance of Being Earnest, "were playing to full houses in London. He was greatly weakened by the privations of prison life, and moved to Paris after his sentence. Wilde died in a hotel room, either of syphilis or complications from ear surgery, in Paris, on November 30, 1900.
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Top Customer Reviews
In this case, the title refers to "other writings" but it does not seem to contain any other writings. In any case, it is hard to tell because there is no table of contents. Chapters do not begin on a new page but (to save money) a new chapter will begin anywhere on the page.
Sometimes there are smart quotes. Sometimes there are unformatted quotation marks.
Margins are very close to the edges of the pages, again to save money.
Most troubling, the original Bantam edition was about 450 pages; this edition is 190 pages.
So, I would recommend you go with a name brand publisher instead of ordering this version.
Why did I not give it one or two stars? Because I did not notice typos and the entire text of "The Picture of Dorian Gray" appears to be contained here, plus the front and back covers, which contain old portraits of the author, are attractive.
I can see why this book is considered a classic -- it has a lot to say about the human condition, not much of it good, and the horror elements are subtle but well-done. All the same, this book isn't for everyone, and getting through the first half of the book takes a LOT of perseverance.
The titular Dorian Gray is a wealthy young man in the prime of his life, considered astonishingly handsome and charming by everyone he meets. When his friend Basil, a painter, creates a portrait of him, Gray mourns that the painting will always be more beautiful than he is and makes a half-serious wish that the painting will age instead of him. To Gray's shock, his wish comes true -- he remains handsome and young-looking, but the figure in his portrait withers and grays with age and vice. At first Gray is delighted by this, but as time passes -- and he falls under the sway of the decadent and reckless Lord Harry -- he starts to feel cursed. And as he lives a life of indulgence and vice, his past crimes begin to catch up to him in ways he could never have imagined...
I'll start with the bad regarding this book. Wilde might have been considered a master satirist in his day, but at times it feels like he's in love with the sound of his own voice, especially here. Much of the book is reserved for philosophical discussions between characters regarding the nature of sin, humanity, pleasure, and virtue. And the character who does most of the talking, Lord Harry, has some dismal and downright dangerous things to say about all of the above. It's hard to know if Wilde sincerely believed what he was writing (about pleasure and indulgence being the chief meaning of life and love being a silly, fleeting thing) or if it's just him getting deeply into the head of his decadent antagonist, but all the same it makes for uncomfortable (and often boring) writing. Plus all this philosophizing pads out the length of the book, and makes it so not much of anything plotworthy really happens until the book's midpoint.
Also, about two-thirds of the way through the book we get a sudden aside about all the things Gray purchases with his considerable wealth -- and these objects are described in great detail. While I can see that this was Wilde's attempt to show how extravagant Gray's lifestyle had become, it feels like a pointless aside tome.
Once one gets past the endless dialogue, however, one finds a quietly chilling story of psychological horror. A creative premise of a painting aging in place of its subject is used quite effectively, and the book builds slowly but surely to its shocking climax. Gray is not exactly a sympathetic character -- he's self-centered and vain even before Lord Harry hooks his claws into him -- but he has his redeeming qualities, and it's hard not to feel his shock and fear as he discovers the secrets of the painting and how his vices are displayed on the canvas for anyone to see. The book's finale is probably obvious by now, given how old this book is, but I won't spoil it just in case...
While definitely not for everyone, and a rather slow read compared to modern-day thrillers, "The Picture of Dorian Gray" is still a fascinating psychological thriller, and it's definitely worth a read. Just be prepared for a slow first half...
My main gripe with the book is that there is a great deal of repetition in the story, to the point of complete tedium. Over and over, in the same language, we hear of Dorian's outer beauty and its effects on everyone around him, of Dorian's waning character (although we're only told how bad he's becoming, but are rarely invited in to actually see his misdeeds unfolding), and, especially, of the hedonistic ideals Lord Henry constantly espouses. Henry just seems to prattle on endlessly throughout the whole book, never changing and immediately quashing with some cynical bon mot anything that might be identified as real human emotion or experience expressed by Dorian (or any other character). This is not a book in which much actually ever happens. There are a few key events that occur, and then most of the rest is just people hanging around at dinners and parties, talking about nothing. There's also a strange chapter devoted almost entirely to descriptions of the jewels, tapestries and perfumes with which Dorian becomes obsessed.
After a while, the repetition as well as all the florid descriptions of the aforementioned luxuries (as well as every room and party and dress and person to whom we're introduced), becomes incredibly tiresome. It all seems to blend together in one endless, meaningless and shallow blur . . . which isn't the most fun to wade through, but at the same time is quite effective in impressing upon the reader the kind of ennui and emptiness that this materialistic and frivolous sliver of society seems to have produced to different effect in all of its central characters. And so in that sense, I wonder if the book does in fact succeed brilliantly in painting a picture of how superficial these characters' lives are, and how, devoid of any real meaning, they spin out of control chasing ridiculous passions and vices, or otherwise completely stagnate.
All things considered, I'm still trying to puzzle out whether the things I disliked about the book while reading it are actually part of its brilliance, or if it just really could have used some editing down to make for a more enjoyable experience without losing anything essential to the core of the story. It's a very short read and despite my issues with it, I'd still recommend giving it a try and deciding for yourself what you make of it all!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
<i>The Picture of Dorian Gray</i> is the masterpiece of Oscar Wilde. It is a classic fiction written in the Victorian Age.Read more