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on April 22, 2017
This was easily one of the best books I have ever read. This book was written over a century ago and still remains popular and insightful. Oscar Wilde’s perception of humanity is, in my opinion, spot on. Every word of this book has depth and meaning.
I absolutely despise Dorian Gray, but I am sure that was Wilde’s intention. How could you like a man that is so selfish, narcissistic, and obsessed with his own youth and beauty at the cost of all others around him? Dorian truly represents the ugliest that humanity has to offer, and I am happy that he pays for his sins in a fairly poetic nature.
To lighten the serious tones of this book is Lord Henry, easily my favorite character. Nearly every line he speaks is a life-quote and his character gives insight to Wilde’s own thoughts regarding the world and the people in the world. A few of my favorites:
“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
“The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it & your soul grows sick with longing for things it has forbidden itself.”
“Some things are more precious because they don’t last long.”

I liked this book so much that I want to re-read it immediately :).
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on November 1, 2016
I am getting very tired of ordering what I think are professionally prepared books and finding that they are print-on-demand works probably put together by one person that do not adhere to certain standards of the book industry.

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.
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on September 12, 2017
This is a ‘dark’ novel in the Gothic style, cleverly told with all the wit of Oscar Wilde. Artist Basil Hallward paints a full-size likeness of a new and admired young friend of his, a Mr. Dorian Gray. Amidst a flurry of clever, witty, philosophical repartee ongoing between Gray and (visitor to Hallward’s studio) Lord Henry Wotton, Dorian wistfully wishes to stay young and let his portrait age: “…it were I who was to be always young and the picture that was to grow old! For that for that—I would give everything! Yes, there is nothing in the whole world I would not give! I would give my soul for that!” This becomes his ‘curse’.

The novel is full of the hedonist thoughts of Lord Henry which corrupt Gray to a life of debauchery. Wilde is quoted as saying, “Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry is what the world thinks of me: Dorian is what I would like to be—in other ages, perhaps.”

And, so this read will give, more than most novels, a glimpse at its author. This is a short and easily readable novel that acts as a platform to carry some serious philosophical opinions and observations of Lord Henry (Wilde?) - some of which are surely out of date in the 21st century. Here is an interesting musing from Lord Henry…

“Modern morality consists in accepting the standard of one’s age. I consider that for any man of culture to accept the standard of his age is a form of the grossest immorality.” This read will illustrate that misogyny and anti-Semitism were a large part of the ‘standard’ of one’s age’ in ~1890 - so be willing to accept (hold your nose at) some of the author's observations and opinions, expressed through Lord Henry. But, even with its “warts”, it is a literary masterpiece and well worth a read!
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on February 13, 2018
“Some day, when you are old and wrinkled and ugly, when thought has seared your forehead with its lines, and passion branded your lips with its hideous fires, you will feel it, you will feel it terribly.”

So, I wanted 2018 to be the year that I try to get back into classics! In the past, I’ve found some of them daunting to read, or just too boring to ever feel invested in. But I feel like The Picture of Dorian Gray was the perfect start.

I originally was going to give this three stars, because I enjoyed it enough, but was never too invested. I felt annoyed at how these characters were so obviously not straight. I mean, a vast majority of this book is about Dorian taking a wife. Meanwhile, every man in this book just has full page monologues telling Dorian how beautiful he is. And then I sat down to do my review, and I started doing my research.

It’s no secret that Oscar Wilde was a gay man. Hell, he was even jailed for his sexuality, and died soon after from all the inhumane injuries he endured while in prison. All three major male character in this book read very… not straight. My friend, Destiny, told me that a lot of readers in the Horror circles make strong arguments that Dorian is in fact pansexual, which makes me happier than I can express with words. Yet, I can’t help but think about parallels with this book that Wilde crafted about “secret sin” and how it mirrored his life and perhaps his sexuality that he ultimately died for.

You guys, I have no words. In the 1880s people thought homosexuality was some disease, something to be cured, something not okay to simply just be. Something that was a criminal act. Something that Oscar Wilde was jailed and forced to do hard labor for. And once you start seeing the similarities between Wilde’s life and the events that take place in this book, you will realize that like The Picture of Dorian Gray is so much more important that the surface value of just reading this story.

Okay, I do suppose I should tell you about the story now. This is a tale that centers around three men that live in an upper-class London society:

➽ Basil Hallward - Artist who befriends Dorian because he is obsessed with his beauty and lives his life painting many portraits of him, but more importantly, he paints the portrait that this story surrounds.

➽ Lord Henry Wotton - Basil's friend, which is how he meets Dorian. Henry is a manipulator that heavily influences Dorian with his views about what is important in life.

➽ Dorian Gray - Our main character, who starts out so young, innocent, and impressionable. He later is harboring a major secret and will stop at nothing to hide this secret and the events that lead him to this secret.

“There are only two kinds of people who are fascinating - people who know absolutely everything and people who know absolutely nothing.”

In this book, the value of appearance is heavily touched upon. Youth and beauty seem to be everyone’s priority. It’s scary and sad how much this also mirrors 2018. There is also a huge discussion to be had about good versus evil and how we view that grey area in-between. Yet, these discussions are held in this seamlessly woven story.

Overall, even though I didn’t five star this, I really enjoyed it and it was able to evoke a lot of emotion from me. More importantly, I recommend you all to read My dear friend Navessa’s review, which ended up evoking even more emotion from me. She linked this article, which then made me weep. Again, this story is so much more than a paranormal painting, and a man trying to hide secrets. This is a masterpiece and my heart will forever break thinking about this story.

Trigger/content warnings: death, murder, suicide, and a ton of misogynistic comments.
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This book was written over 100 years ago and is on my challenge list. It wasn't very long but took me a while to read because it was pretty deep and the some of the vernacular is different. I had to stop a lot and really think about what the author was trying to say. This book put great value on looks as if it were the end all and be all of everything wonderful. It's interesting to see how things were looked at and I can't help wishing I could speak to this author and ask him if he truly felt this way and if so ask again, Who decideds what's beautiful?

The Picture of Dorian Gray.
The name says it all. It really is about his picture and what it represented at the time. It feels as if there is only one main character and it isn’t dorian gray. He is the object that everyone is talking about in the book but its not really about him.
But about his life and how the other players have influenced him or it. Quite philisophical really. I love to talk about that kind of introspective stuff. The intangables that people have ingrained in their minds but don’t speak of.

How our insides don't necessarily match our outsides. He started out quite normal, if a little vain. The first half of the book was slow and I ended up reading a couple of books in between. The last half picked up so quick I finished it in one sitting.

Dorian Gray is an idiot in my opinion. He let others influence him till he had no sense of self. Then when he messed up he rationalized it to himself. If he didn't like what he was doing he did something else. He was a spoiled rich kid with no sense of honor.

Everyone knows this story right? I'm not really spoiling for you am I? Spoiled rich kid sits for a pianting. A painting so wonderful in its youth and beauty that Dorian mouths a prayer (or a curse depending on how you look at it) that he forever remain as this picture. And so the story begins. He is in love with himself. Pure vanity. I could really go on and on talking about this wonderful book, but then I would deprive you are reading it for yourself. BTW, it's free.

The ending really sang to me. I loved it and found it entirely fitting.

Favorite quotes:

The reason we all like to think so well of others is that we are all afraid for ourselves. The basis of optimism is sheer terror.

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.

But the picture? What to say of that? It held the secret of his life, and told his story. It taught him to love his own beauty. Would it teach him to loathe his own soul?

We live in an age that reads too much to be wise, and thinks too much to be beautiful.
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on September 23, 2015
I almost never leave reviews on classic books, because I figure said books are classics for a reason. Their quality is assured if they've stood the test of time and remain well-known after all these years, right? Even in the case of "classics" that I don't enjoy for whatever reason, such as "Tess of the D'ubervilles," I figure it's merely a case of personal preference and not quality. So it's with some degree of hesitation that I leave a review on such a classic as "The Picture of Dorian Gray," one of Oscar Wilde's best-known works. It's been hailed as a riveting psychological thriller/horror novel, and I figure there must be something to that praise if the book has managed to endure for over a century. Still, I figure that even the words of a modern-day Amazon reviewer should be worth something, even if it's just to deliver a personal opinion.

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...
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on March 12, 2017
The best work by Oscar Wilde by far. The writing style brilliant. Read if you like a slightly different take on a horror story. Wilde does not skim on the details. Every chapter is well designed and suspense adds with each chapter. I would consider this reading for entertainment, leisure or for a plane ride. Probably not the best to read before bedtime. The characters are well thoight out and Dorian is not like any other pretty boy in novels. No spoilers though this is a classic story that has been adapted into many forms, but the book takes a dark turn. Each character represents different points of view. Lord Henry is a skeptic, realist. And an amazingly quotable person. Dorian ungoes an extreme transition from innocence to ....Well you should read it and find the rest out for yourself. Basil is an artist that has found his muse. The language can be difficult for those just learning English.
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on July 9, 2017
"Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic."

Wow... if that isn't a powerful statement!

I will say this review contains spoilers, but most people know the story of Dorian Gray even if they haven't read it, so I'll leave it up to you on whether you want to continue onward.

I haven't read such a classic tale since high school, and I must admit, I have a much better appreciation for them as an adult. It is no wonder that Oscar Wilde received such criticism for this novel; so much being taboo for it's time. The accusations of homoerotic themes, well, is it any wonder? It was only a few short years later that Oscar Wilde was arrested for sodomy and homosexuality. It's said that the character of Dorian Gray can often be found in that of Oscar Wilde in their hedonistic ways. Which was probably what Oscar Wilde was most criticized for.

This is a very philosophical novel and although most of it is lost in today's time, I can imagine what an impact that must of had during that time and how controversial this novel really was. Let's consider the fact that the first time this was ever published nearly 500 words had been deleted. It was feared that The Picture of Dorian Gray would violate public morality.

So what's it all about for those of you who don't know? It's a beautiful summer day and Lord Henry Wotton, a philosophical, self-indulgent aristocrat is visiting his friend, Basil Hallward, a sensitive, almost feminine painter. Lord Henry Wotton is observing his friend Basil while he paints a portrait of the young Dorian Gray. Dorian is Basil's ultimate muse, even expressing "He is all my art to me now... As long as I live the personality of Dorian Gray will dominate me." Basil is concerned about the influence that Lord Henry will have on Dorian Gray and fears that he could take away the one person who gives his art whatever charm it possesses. While sitting for the painting Dorian listens to Lord Henry and his philosophies and his hedonistic ways... he exclaims Youth! Youth! There is absolutely nothing in the world but youth!" The portrait is finished and once revealed Dorian is beside himself, after listening to Lord Henry's views on youth Dorian questions his own. "How sad it is! I shall grow old, and horrible, and dreadful. But this picture will remain always young. It will never be older than this particular day of June... if it were only the other way! If it were I who was to be always young, and the picture that was to grow old! For that-- for that--I would give everything! Yes, there is nothing in the whole world I would not give! I would give my soul for that!"

Dorian soon meets a young actress by the name of Sibyl Vane, who performs Shakespeare in a dingy theatre. Dorian becomes enamored by this young actress and soon asks for her hand in marriage. The young Sibyl refers to Dorian has her "Prince Charming" and is overcome with happiness and love. Sibyl's brother, James Vane, is not as happy to hear about Sibyl's new "Prince Charming". James is a sailor about to leave for Australia, but before he does, he vows that "if this man wrongs my sister, I will find out who he is, track him down, and kill him like a dog, I swear it." Dorian invites Basil and Lord Henry to see Sibyl perform in Romeo and Juliet. Dorian tells Basil and Lord Henry that Sibyl is a born artist. Dorian exclaims "When you see Sibyl Vane, you will feel that the man who could wrong her would be a beast, a beast without a heart. I cannot understand how any one can wish to shame the thing he loves."

Sibyl is too enamored by Dorian and performs poorly. Lord Henry tells Dorian she is quite beautiful, but she can't act. Dorian is overcome with embarrassment and confronts Sibyl after the play. He rejects Sibyl and tells her that she has killed his love. He tells her "Without your art, you art nothing." Dorian leaves Sibyl destroyed.

Upon returning home Dorian discovers that his wish for eternal youth has come true. Upon examining the painting Dorian can see a touch of cruelty in the mouth. He begins to question, had he really been cruel? He continues to place the blame on Sibyl, but an overwhelming sense of regret comes over Dorian and he decides that he will reconcile with Sibyl. The next day, Dorian receives word from Lord Henry that Sibyl has committed suicide by swallowing prussic acid.

Dorian decides to lock away the portrait from any prying eyes. He can't risk anyone knowing his secret. He accepted his fate, if the picture was to alter, it was to alter. "This portrait would be to him the most magical of mirrors. As it had revealed to him his own body, so it would reveal to him his own soul." Dorian spends the next eighteen years studying perfumes, music, jewels, and embroideries and tapestries. Everything he collected was a means to escape.

One night before leaving for Paris, Basil decides to pay Dorian a visit to confront him about all the rumors he has been hearing about him. Dorian does not deny the rumors of debauchery. Basil states, "I wonder do I know you? Before I could answer that, I should have to see your soul." Dorian replies "You shall see it yourself, to-night! Come: it is your own handiwork." Dorian takes Basil to see the portrait. The portrait has become so hideous that Basil is only able to recognize it by his vermillion signature in the left-hand corner. There was something in its expression that filled him with disgust and loathing. Basil pleads for Dorian to pray, to pray for repentance. Dorian becomes overwhelmed with hatred for Basil and stabs him to death. Dorian calls upon an old friend and scientist, Alan Campbell, to help him dispose of the body. Alan refuses to help Dorian, which leaves Dorian no choice but to blackmail Alan.

Overwhelmed by guilt, Dorian recalls what Lord Henry had once said to him, "To cure the soul by means of the senses, and the senses by means of the soul!" He decides to go to an opium den. Upon leaving he has an encounter with a woman who refers to Dorian as "Prince Charming". James in unknowingly present and overhears this, he rushes after Dorian. James is holding a gun to Dorian's head, prepared to shoot him, he explains "You wrecked the life of Sibyl Vane". Dorian denies having ever known Sibyl and convinces James that he's far too young to have known this woman. James is apologetic, but Dorian leaves him with a warning "Let this be a warning to you not to take vengeance into your own hands." Dorian storms off into the night. The women from the opium den questions James for having let him go. James explains that he is not the man he is looking for, that he is little more than a boy. The woman explains that it was eighteen years ago when she had met Dorian and that he hasn't changed much since. She states "They say he has sold himself to the devil for a pretty face." James begins to stalk Dorian causing him to fear for his life. However, during a shooting party a hunter accidentally shoots James Vane who was lurking in the thicket. Dorian is relieved!

Following this chance accident Dorian decides that he wants to be good. He thinks that maybe by doing good that he can undo all the wrong that he's done. He starts by not breaking the heart of his newest love interest Hetty Merton. He wonders if he new good deed had changed the appearance of his portrait. Upon inspection he discovers that there was no change, that it was still loathsome, more loathsome, if possible than before. Dorian decides that only full confession will absolve him of his wrongdoings. But with no evidence left of his crimes other than his portrait, he decides to destroy it. He grabs the knife, the same knife he used to kill Basil Hallward, and stabbed the picture with it. It had killed the painter, and now it would kill the painter's work. A loud cry is heard by the servants and passersby. Upon entering the locked room the servants find hanging on the wall a splendid portrait of their master as they had last seen him in all the wonder of his youth and beauty. Lying on the floor was a dead man, with a knife in his heart. He was withered, wrinkled, and loathsome. It wasn't until after further examination and discovering the rings on the body that they recognized the man as their master, Dorian Gray.
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on February 7, 2016
This is the story of Dorian Gray- a handsome, wealthy, amiable young man who is loved by everyone. When his portrait is painted, Dorian declares he wishes his appearance would remain just as it is in the portrait for all time. Well, fate is listening. Dorian's physical appearance remains unchanged over the years. But Dorian's personality does not. Influenced by his new associates, Dorian becomes a changed man. He drinks, does drugs, sleeps with whores, and even commits murder. All without any remorse. While his physical appearance remains beautiful, the portrait however, does not. The portrait reflects the changes internally, and over the years the portrait becomes grotesque. Can Dorian gives up his bad ways? And can he ever redeem himself?

I had mixed feelings about this book. It was definitely dark and depressing. There are many not so pretty things discussed in this book. However, the book is definitely unique, and raises some interesting moral questions. What makes a petdon "bad" or "immoral"? Are you to blame if you influence someone to do something wrong? Is there ever a point where someone is beyond redemption? Should society rebuke someone for their immorality or wrong doings? When is it ok to turn a blind eye, and when should one speak up?

Overall an interesting and thought provoking book, if you can get past the dark, depressing points.
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on May 14, 2017
Thanks to Audiofile's free summer audiobook program, I listened to the audiobook version of this for free. The narrator's voice was pleasant, although it wasn't particularly great for the female voices, but they didn't play a major role in the story, so it wasn't that big of a deal for me. It was certainly not bad enough for me to recommend not listening to the audiobook.

As a sometimes literary snob, this book has been on my radar for quite a while, but I just never got around to reading it until now. And I really wish that I'd read it sooner. While it has the somewhat boring societal grace details that one expects to find in a book about nobility at the end of the nineteenth century, it also has a very intriguing paranormal aspect to it through the portrait.

The story provided a lot of room for speculation. I found myself wondering how different Dorian Gray's life would have been if certain aspects of the story had gone differently. I imagine he would have led a much more virtuous life if only Sybil Vain had not killed herself before he got the chance to make amends for instance, which would have been a very different book (and far less interesting honestly.) But that wasn't the only area that led to speculation (I just won't discuss the others because that would be too many spoilers, even for a book that's been out for over a century.)

I found myself more drawn into the story than I thought I would be, and somehow I was even surprised by the ending, I probably shouldn't have been, but I was.

Overall I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. I would recommend it to fans of Edgar Allen Poe's writing for sure, and of course other literary snobs that have yet to tackle it.
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