The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Book - 2003
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An astounding novel of decadence, debauchery, and secrecy from one of Ireland's greatest writers. Nominated as one of America's best-loved novels by PBS's The Great American Read

Enthralled by his own exquisite portrait, Dorian Gray makes a Faustian bargain to sell his soul in exchange for eternal youth and beauty. Under the influence of Lord Henry Wotton, he is drawn into a corrupt double life, where he is able to indulge his desires while remaining a gentleman in the eyes of polite society. Only Dorian's picture bears the traces of his decadence.

A knowing account of a secret life and an analysis of the darker side of late Victorian society. The Picture of Dorian Gray offers a disturbing portrait of an individual coming face to face with the reality of his soul. Shocking in its suggestion of unspeakable sin, this novel was later used as evidence against Wilde when he was tried for indecency in 1895.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Publisher: London ; New York : Penguin, ©2003.
ISBN: 9780141439570
Characteristics: xliii, 252 pages ;,20 cm.
Additional Contributors: Mighall, Robert


From the critics

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Oct 11, 2020

Its plot reflects "The Lady of Shiloh"'s living through a mirror's reflection. In "Shiloh," she dies upon looking outside the mirror. While these elements exist in "The Portrait of Dorian Gray," the difference is in a "sell my soul" incident, reflecting the nineteenth-century suspicion of science versus spirituality.
The theme, however, reflects the axiom "Be careful what you wish for."

Sep 08, 2020

Congrats Oscar, such a fascinating original tale. This will be a reread, plump with enticing avenues to marvel. Changing tempos and absinthe drench chapters. Wickedly good.

Sep 08, 2020

By a not-so-strict rule, I don't read more than one fiction a year - haven't been enjoying being immersed in the imagination of somebody else since many years. So, when I do pick that one fiction, I don't want it to miss! Last year, it was On the Road, a book that I thought would be incredibly hard to match. Yet, The Picture of Dorian Gray made sure I was wrong. (Both of these books were birthday gifts from the same person, so now I know what fiction I'll be reading next year).

From wildly popular quotes like "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it" to hugely profound ones like "Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.", the book is a philosophically oriented fictional masterpiece. The author, Oscar Wilde, has penned this work in a way it went beyond making The `Picture` of Dorian Gray worth a thousand words!
Incidentally, I was reading Rene Descartes's classic "Meditations on First Philosophy" alongside this book, and the two made me bungee jump in the narrow gorge between their canyons of though-provoking ideas.

If all the inner, subtle meanings are discounted, The Picture of Dorian Gray is a simple story of a few characters bathed in hedonism, narcissism, and the ensuing virtual inevitable impotency of the two! But under that surface ripple is a penetrating and profound undercurrent of stimulating tenets. At times, it reminded me of old Upendra movies I used watch when growing up!

I would like to adapt it to programming parlance, with "The Picture of i", where i is the well-known iterator in the for-loop, who comes of the for-loop and goes on enjoying the libertine life, while its symbolic portrait - the i in the loop records every sin, ages, and gets garbage-collected. In fact, if the painting was, instead of a regular portrait, a symbolic portrayal of Gray, like that of Adele Bloch-Bauer I in his most famous work by Gustav Klimt, it probably would have been even more docile for the storyline.

Personally, I could identify myself with the characters of all the three - Dorian Gray, Lord Henry, and Basil Hallward at different points in my life. I guess that's the point! Overall, despite not being very long, The Picture of Dorian Gray is a metaphorically heavy book with ample deep scope of enjoyment if you like stories of the abstract kind.

Aug 19, 2020

A masterpiece not just for the Gothic genre, but of all literature. Read it the first chance you get.

Jul 28, 2020

A true work of art. One of my favourites.

Jul 27, 2020

Ideas and theories are able to influence and corrupt others. Dorian's narcissism, greed, and pride has lead him to his untimely demise. He throws away his innocence and boyhood in order to keep his physical youthful appearance. The same ensnaring ideas that Lord Harry says in the beginning seem shallow at the end. This book was a roller coaster from beginning to the end. I found reading this with an audiobook much more enjoyable because it gets wordy and my brain can't read large amounts of text before I begin glazing over it.
I really enjoyed it!
There were some french poetry in the later chapters that I didn't bother looking up. I don't know how much insight it would have gave me.
Time skips were hard to locate.

May 22, 2020

After being influenced and drawn in to the hedonistic culture of Lord Henry Wotton, Dorian Gray, a young man and subject of his friend’s painting, soon believes that beauty and self-fulfillment are the only aspects of life. Desperate to stay young and as beautiful as he was in his portrait, Dorian wishes that his painting would age for him. This wish is granted, and Dorian begins to live an indulging and indifferent life, all while his portrait ages and mutates with every vice. This novel walks along the line of morals and the absence of consequence, and ultimately explains the power of guilt. I was drawn into this novel in its complex characters and plot, as well as the way the author evoked such emotion and personality into his characters.

May 16, 2020

Young lad, an Adonis, sits for a portrait, one that reveals his soul. As he ages he leads a dissolute life and the picture changes, mirroring his life. Creative and original plot.

Apr 25, 2020

The Ebook has no pictures or annotations. I've had to look up a lot of stuff and in chapter 11 the author starts rambling and the story stagnates. The book relies heavily on referencing other works of literature of course repeatedly alluding to Shakespeare. Rich lives of leisure. If it weren't so short short I would trash it. I find the book tedious and boring. Probably why it's Wilde's only novel.

Mar 30, 2020

Absolutely great novel. Lord Henry Wotton spits out facts and philosophies with sharp wit almost every page.

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Age Suitability

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May 22, 2020

lkim17 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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

Apr 15, 2015

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


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Jun 22, 2018

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

Dec 12, 2017

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

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."

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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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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