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Showing 1-10 of 2,238 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 2,857 reviews
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 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 October 26, 2016
I'm not sure what my expectations were having never read but only watched various versions of Dorian Gray in shows, none of which were accurately faithful to the book. I could see how this would have been considered too risque for audiences at the time it was first published, which makes it an interesting note on how much society has changed. The book was slow moving for about the first 40% of the book and did not even move Dorian's story along. It was almost entirely about Lord Henry Wotton and a bit about Dorian, then when it did change perspectives to Dorian it still took a bit to get to the picture's importance. A good portion of the second half of the book was a litany of the "things" that Dorian would obsess over. To be honest I would skim over these and it was fine because all the detail was not necessary. Not a bad book but not a great read either. Simply a provocative book for an era long gone.
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on August 22, 2015
My quick takeaway before a lengthier review: If you're expecting a thrilling and entertaining read like I was, you'll probably be disappointed (or at least surprised). In reality, the book moves very slowly, not all that much actually happens, and large chunks of it felt like bit of a chore to get through. A number of reviewers who disliked the book to varying degrees mention that it could have been condensed into a short story or novella to much better effect, and I tend to agree; tightening it up it would have made it a far more enjoyable read, I think. But although it wasn't the engrossing, suspenseful, edge-of-your-seat book I thought it would be based on on its reputation and what I knew of the concept, it's still a book that I'm ultimately glad to have read, and one that made me think quite a bit.

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!
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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 July 19, 2016
Wilde's philosophical novel remains a compelling parable about outsourced guilt, and nearly every page has at least one eminently quotable line. Nevertheless, the lengthy middle section, which frames Gray's mounting debauchery in a detailed and prolonged discussion of Victorian tastes, grows quickly tedious. The passages are interesting in the abstract as a record of Wilde's apparently obsessive fascination with tapestries and ornament in general, but the novel wouldn't suffer much without them.

Still, though, Dorian Gray's predicament and the choices it enables are provocative, and he himself is a character with possibilities that extend far beyond the four walls of Wilde's short novel.
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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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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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Two of my favorite quotes are by Oscar Wilde, "Be Yourself, Everyone Else is already taken," and "All of us are lying in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." However I had never read any of his works. After the death of Paul O'Neill, founder of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, I found out he was a big fan of Oscar Wilde going as far as naming his daughter Ireland Wilde. So I knew I had to read something of Wilde's.

I was somewhat familiar with the Picture of Dorian Grey as he was featured in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The idea of someone trading their soul via picture for eternal youth was quite intriguing. What I didn't realize was how sinister he was. He was responsible for the death of a woman he thought was his true love, among other things. But he came off as a nice, sophisticated dandy. It reminded me a bit of Faust with a different spin. Quite enjoyable and very interesting that it caused such a hoopla when it was published.
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