The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Book - 2004 | Modern Library paperback edition.
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Introduction by Jeffrey Eugenides * Nominated as one of America's best-loved novels by PBS's The Great American Read

Written in his distinctively dazzling manner, Oscar Wilde's story of a fashionable young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty is the author's most popular work. The tale of Dorian Gray's moral disintegration caused a scandal when it first appeared in 1890, but though Wilde was attacked for the novel's corrupting influence, he responded that there is, in fact, "a terrible moral in Dorian Gray ." Just a few years later, the book and the aesthetic/moral dilemma it presented became issues in the trials occasioned by Wilde's homosexual liaisons, which resulted in his imprisonment. Of Dorian Gray's relationship to autobiography, Wilde noted in a letter, "Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world thinks me: Dorian what I would like to be--in other ages, perhaps."
Publisher: New York : Modern Library, 2004.
Edition: Modern Library paperback edition.
ISBN: 9780375751516
Branch Call Number: FIC Wilde
Characteristics: xxiv, 266 pages ; 21 cm
Additional Contributors: Eugenides, Jeffrey
Thomas, David Wayne

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SPPL_Kristen Mar 15, 2018

A novel that never gets old.

r
rpavlacic
Dec 12, 2017

If you think you know what there is to know about Oscar Wilde from his plays, most notably "The Importance of Being Earnest," you may be in for a shock with this book. Dank and dark, this book tells the story of a socialite who sells his soul for immortality (and immorality) ... only to discover a portrait of him gets more decrepit and old with the passage of time. The book was used against Wilde at his indecency trial in 1895, which speaks to its power. Highly recommended, though definitely not for younger readers.

j
jenn_g
Nov 26, 2017

Absolutely lovely and beautifully written! I was not only impressed with the novel's prose, but also with how Wilde exquisitely weaves together all those details, symbols and allusions. The character archetype and journey may not be unfamiliar to most people, but it is how Wilde executed based on this plot that makes all the difference.

b
BOOKMONKEY109
Nov 24, 2017

This was on my literary bucket list. Full of quotable lines and descriptions of humanity. Glad I read it but wouldn't recommend it.

b
Blue_Raven_10
Jul 09, 2017

A brilliant and fun read. Wilde is a genius and a master of words. Every phrase is witty, meaningful, and simply enjoyable to soak up. I want to see more of Wilde's works, such as his plays and short stories. This book also opens the door for lots of interesting conversations about identity, life, beauty, and ugliness.

MirandaJo Feb 24, 2017

This is my absolute favorite novel. I have never read a piece of literature filled with more snappy comedy, meaningful symbols, and heart wrenching drama. I love (or love to hate) every single character. I compare every other piece of literature I read to this novel. This is a MUST read!

d
dennismmiller
Oct 31, 2016

The story is familiar. As the result of a rash prayer, a young dandy is cursed - physically he will never change, but his portrait will. Seduced willingly into a life of debauchery, outwardly he remains the beautiful young man, but his portrait becomes increasingly hideous, reflecting the degeneration of his soul.

The Picture of Dorian Gray is, at its heart, a fairy tale, a fable exploring the connection between goodness and beauty which Wilde, along with the rest of Victorian England, learned from Ruskin. The novel is far from perfect. The early romance between Gray and an actress never rises above melodramatic cliche. The cascade of witticisms that emerges from the mouths of Gray and Lord Henry now suffers from a combination of antiquity and familiarity. Yet although the central message - that all sin is a form of self-mutilation, however the sinner may have been self-anaesthetized - is at least as old as Plato, Wilde's dramatization is memorable enough to make the old truth young again.

Cynthia_N Oct 17, 2016

I knew the story of Dorian Gray but I had never read it. I am so glad I did!

e
erikavking
Sep 29, 2016

Wilde creates a world in which artifice and sensuality are superior to what is considered "natural" and "useful". I love the subversion, and enjoy his imagining of a world where queerness is superior.

t
TEENREVIEWBOARD
Sep 08, 2016

The Picture of Dorian Gray: a book so famously criticized that it was nearly unbearable to carry it around in public at the time of its release. This philosophical novel follows the story of young Dorian Gray, a man who is terribly beautiful to Basil Hallward, his dear friend who is painting him. One day, as Dorian is being painted, Basil’s so-called friend arrives, Lord Henry Wotton. Although none of the three men know how Henry will change their lives, they soon will. Over the next some time, Henry starts to treat Dorian as his personal experiment and starts to corrupt his young, innocent mind. He tells Dorian of how he will grow old, and of how he will never be as beautiful again. Dorian, now obsessed with youth, declares how he wishes he could trade his soul for the youth of his finished portrait, so that he can stay forever young. In a supernatural turn of events, his wish comes true. As Henry Wotton continues to corrupt Dorian, his soul (which is in the painting) grows uglier and uglier, until it is almost unbearable to look at. Oscar Wilde portrays a man’s life story almost poetically, showing his soul’s journey from riches to rags. Rating: 5/5
- @thesoundofcolours of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

This is another classic for a reason. It is a beautiful study on vanity and hedonistic selfishness. The writing is flowery, yet snappy, and pleasant to hear in your mind, which makes the depressing despair that sets in as you read the book all the more savory. More than the very interesting premise, and extremely unique story, exploring subjects rarely covered in literature, Wilde’s writing is just a treat to enjoy. What this book means to Wilde makes the subjects it covers that much more inimitably rich and fascinating: this is a book that everyone must read at least once.
- @FalcoLombardi of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

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Quotes

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a
azupcsan
Jun 22, 2018

"The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame. That is all."

r
rpavlacic
Dec 12, 2017

"The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it."

j
Juliana230
Jul 05, 2016

"Oh, brothers! I don't care for brothers. My elder brother won't die, and my younger bothers seem to do nothing else."

e
eurydice_orpheus
Feb 23, 2015

"All art is quite useless."

e
eurydice_orpheus
Feb 23, 2015

"When they entered, they found hanging upon the wall a splendid portrait of their master as they had last seen him, in all the wonder of his exquisite youth and beauty. Lying on the floor was a dead man, in evening dress, with a knife in his heart. He was withered, wrinkled, and loathsome of visage. It was not till they had examined the rings that they recognized who it was."

é
étoile
Apr 28, 2011

"When I like someone immensely I never tell their names to anyone. It is like surrendering a part of them. I have grown to love secrecy. It seems to be the one thing that can make modern life mysterious or marvellous to us. The commonest thing is delightful if one only hides it."

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rpavlacic
Dec 12, 2017

rpavlacic thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

EuSei Feb 28, 2016

EuSei thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

m
momofseven
Apr 15, 2015

momofseven thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 16 and 99

Summary

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h
haploU5
Jul 13, 2011

Written and set in 19th century England, this gothic psychological thriller is a classic horror story, refreshingly free of the graphic blood and gore that seems to be the standard horror theme these days.

The story begins with Dorian Gray, a young man of extraordinary good looks, having his portrait painted by his friend Basil Hallward. In the midst of posing for the portrait enters Lord Henry, a pompous and self-important character that convinces an innocent Dorian that his looks are his most important characteristic and that he will have tremendous power over people because of them. He tells Dorian that he should enjoy them while they last as like everything else they will fade with time and so will the power that comes with them.
Taking his words seriously, a naïve and melancholy Dorian wishes that his looks would last forever and instead of time ravaging his face and body, his portrait would age instead, leaving him forever young. As the story moves along and to Dorian’s increasing dismay, he starts noticing that his wish has been granted… with a twist. The portrait is noticeably growing more hideous as Dorian’s behaviour becomes progressively more callous and contemptible.
Though dated, the story is fast-paced, well written and an easy read. Its lighter side pokes fun at the aristocracy and their total uselessness while its darker side reveals the level of shallowness and depravity of human nature.

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