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The Picture of Dorian Gray (Pulp! The Classics) Paperback – April 1, 2014
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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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!
Having read this novella many years ago, I reread it because I needed to refresh my memory as to why it was the portrait that aged instead of Dorian Gray himself. It is a great reminder to be wary of the advice of friends, especially cynical ones.
I saw the movie version (with Hurd Hatfield as Dorian and George Sanders as Lord Henry) when I was about 12. Scared the daylights out of me and I never forgot it.
This is a quote from the book:
"But beauty, real beauty, ends where an intellectual expression begins. Intellect is in itself a mode of exaggeration, and destroys the harmony of any face. The moment one sits down to think, one becomes all nose, or all forehead, or something horrid. Look at the successful men in any of the learned professions. How perfectly hideous they are! Except, of course, in the Church. But then in the Church they don't think. A bishop keeps on saying at the age of eighty what he was told to say when he was a boy of eighteen, and as a natural consequence he always looks absolutely delightful."
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