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The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
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The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)

by Oscar Wilde

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
22,35434256 (4.01)13 / 921
1890s (5)
Romans (26)
Unread books (1,113)
  1. 190
    The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (chrisharpe)
  2. 140
    The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (sturlington)
    sturlington: Read Oscar Wilde at his finest.
  3. 120
    The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Writings by Edgar Allan Poe (WSB7)
  4. 82
    Death in Venice by Thomas Mann (roby72)
  5. 61
    The Stranger by Albert Camus (SanctiSpiritus)
  6. 40
    Against Nature by Joris-Karl Huysmans (roby72, Zeeko, JuliaMaria)
    JuliaMaria: Wie in Wikipedia zu 'Gegen den Strich' beschrieben: "Ein französischer Roman, der den Protagonisten in Oscar Wildes Roman Das Bildnis des Dorian Gray zu dekadenten Ausschweifungen inspiriert, wird häufig als Anspielung auf À rebours gedeutet. Wilde war - wie auch Stéphane Mallarmé - ein Bewunderer des Romans."… (more)
  7. 73
    Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind (spiphany)
  8. 30
    The Man in the Picture by Susan Hill (OneMorePage)
  9. 30
    The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde by Neil McKenna (unknown_zoso05)
    unknown_zoso05: McKenna touches upon what influenced Wilde to write "The Picture of Dorian Gray".
  10. 31
    Oscar Wilde: A Certain Genius by Barbara Belford (veracity)
    veracity: Belford discusses both editions of Dorian Gray.
  11. 66
    The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (chrisharpe)
  12. 00
    Shadow Dance by Angela Carter (rbtanger)
  13. 00
    Picture of Evil by Graham Masterton (Scottneumann)
  14. 11
    Six Characters in Search of an Author by Luigi Pirandello (SandSing7)
  15. 12
    A fehér tigris by Ervin Lázár (Lucy_Skywalker)
  16. 01
    The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares (StevenTX)
  17. 03
    Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber (Joles)
  18. 48
    Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (lucyknows)
    lucyknows: Heart of Darkness could be paired with Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray or the strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyse by Robert Louis Stevenson. In all three novels the authors depict the struggle of people against the forces of evil.
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English (315)  Spanish (8)  French (7)  German (3)  Italian (1)  Dutch (1)  Finnish (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Hungarian (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (339)
Showing 1-5 of 315 (next | show all)
I have to say that I liked "The Importance of Being Earnest" much more than I did this book. There were areas that I enjoyed but for the most part I just got tired of the flowery language and the over abundance of description. At some point there was a whole chapter's worth of description that I just would have cut completely. It was basically a list of stuff that Dorian Gray likes. I had to skip through most of the chapter; and that's saying a lot since I tend to bask in pretty words.

The idea that people, when given the chance to live wickedly without showing the outward signs of their deeds was an interesting one. Also, the fact that those who had not been directly affected by Dorian's actions could not think ill of him because he looked so young and beautiful. It makes me think about how sometimes, even today, we assume that beauty is a manifestation of the beauty inside a person, when in reality, it's sometimes the most beautiful people that can be the most hideous.

Overall, I felt that this book had some interesting notions that is was exploring, but the writing put me off. I can see why he only wrote the one novel. He tends to go a little crazy on the descriptions, which is distracting and sometimes annoying. I did enjoy the dialogue however. The dialogue is where the majority of the ideas come through, so naturally I found that more interesting than the actual narrative. Because of this, I actually thought that this would work better as a play than a novel.

Notable Quotes:

"Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes."

"Those who are faithful know only the trivial side of love: it is the faithless who know love's tragedies."

"I don't want to see him alone. He says things that annoy me. He gives me good advice."

"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." ( )
  kell1732 | Jan 25, 2015 |
never heard of it until a friend suggested it to read together. Awesome book. Went into the story without reading a synopsis. Chilling! page-turner till the end. Inside and outside beauty and its challenges. And Lord Henry's snarky comments about live are just too funny. ( )
  kakadoo202 | Jan 19, 2015 |
Well. Dorian Gray has to be the most immoral protagonist I have ever had the (mis?)fortune of reading about. And yet Wilde said this about [b:The Picture of Dorian Gray|5297|The Picture of Dorian Gray|Oscar Wilde|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320467562s/5297.jpg|1858012]: "Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry is what the world thinks me: Dorian is what I would like to be". ( )
  IsaboeOfLumatere | Jan 14, 2015 |
READ IN ENGLISH

A friend of mine told me about The Picture of Dorian Gray and she is quite a fan of it. I wanted to read it as well, to see if it really was as good as she said. I enjoyed reading it. For me, it wasn't the best book I've ever read and there wasn't much surprise for me in it (my friend told me the story) but it was still interesting to read in my opinion. It took me quite some time to finish the book, but that hadn't to do with the story. It was also the first book I read online (instead of on paper) so I had to get used to that as well. ( )
  Floratina | Jan 4, 2015 |
Six-word review: Seductive as ever, the old villain.

Extended review:

At age 19, when I first read the 1891 novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, I was far more impressionable than I am now. In fact, although I was about the same age as the character Dorian Gray, I was probably significantly more naive than he when first he met the serpent in his garden--the blase, worldly-wise Lord Henry Wotton. Yet even now, upon rereading, I can feel the seductive effect of Lord Henry's brilliant, worldly cynicism. His dazzling rhetoric, his decadent opinions, and his perennially quotable epigrams exert a magnetic pull that almost seem sufficient to explain the moral dissolution of his young protege in the name of sensual gratification.

Here is Dorian's reaction following his first conversation with Lord Henry, whom he has met at the home of his friend and portraitist Basil Hallward:

For nearly ten minutes he stood there, motionless, with parted lips, and eyes strangely bright. He was dimly conscious that entirely fresh influences were at work within him. Yet they seemed to him to have come really from himself. The few words that Basil's friend had said to him--words spoken by chance, no doubt, and with wilful paradox in them--had touched some secret chord that had never been touched before, but that he felt was now vibrating and throbbing to curious pulses.

The beguiling words of Lord Henry release a powerful response in the young protagonist, but they are its catalyst, not its source. The capacity for the evil that is to come is present already in the young man, a seeming innocent, unspotted from the world; nothing he does is beyond his innate predilections. Even his horror and revulsion at his own deeds are something for him to savor and not to renounce.

Even as a young reader, I think I understood, at some level, that although the story appears to deliver a moral, showing us in the end how vice and cruelty return justice upon the wicked, the author was actually more interested in the sin than in the retribution.

Unless I'm much mistaken, the last thing Oscar Wilde would have wanted was for his novel to be called a morality tale. To appease the public morals of his time, however, he did as many another author and filmmaker has done in the face of censorship and gave his story a Hollywood ending. Not that appealing to public morality did anything to save him in the end.

It's interesting to note that most of the character's alleged acts of decadence and debasement go unspecified. As a teenager in pre-Internet days, when horror movies were relatively wholesome and even slashing was a matter of quick cuts of film and not flesh, I couldn't begin to guess what those might have been. Now I suppose I can imagine some of them; but that is in some ways more chilling than seeing them spelled out, for it requires us to look inside and examine the dark reaches of our own natures rather than keeping such thoughts comfortably external.

The phrase "wilful paradox" in the passage quoted above caught my eye because it so aptly characterizes a quality of Wilde himself, speaking both through his alter ego and as himself in so many other contexts. Here, Lord Henry delivers many of Oscar Wilde's most famous epigrams. This is just a sampling:

"Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing."
"A man can be happy with any woman as long as he does not love her."
"As for believing things, I can believe anything, provided that it is quite incredible."
"Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes."
"Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul."
"There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."
"The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it."

The Goodreads collection of quotes from this work numbers 924. My copy of the novel is 254 pages long. That's an average of 3.6 quotable lines per page. Wilde is still a prince of one-liners.

A century and a quarter later, Wilde's controversial novel has not lost its capacity to shock, disturb, and in some sense edify. If we can acknowledge the allure of depravity and corruption, even as we abjure the practice, we admit a little light into the dark places.

Wilde speaks of an author with a "curious jewelled style, vivid and obscure at once." The same phrase might describe his own style. Here is a lengthy excerpt that illustrates its power to captivate the mind:

Because to influence a person is to give him one's own soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions. His virtues are not real to him. His sins, if there are such things as sins, are borrowed. He becomes an echo of someone else's music, an actor of a part that has not been written for him. The aim of life is self-development. To realize one's nature perfectly--that is what each of us is here for. People are afraid of themselves, nowadays. They have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty that one owes to one's self. Of course they are charitable. They feed the hungry, and clothe the beggar. But their own souls starve, and are naked. Courage has gone out of our race. Perhaps we never really had it. The terror of society, which is the basis of morals, the terror of God, which is the secret of religion—these are the two things that govern us. And yet, I believe that if one man were to live out his life fully and completely, were to give form to every feeling, expression to every thought, reality to every dream--I believe that the world would gain such a fresh impulse of joy that we would forget all the maladies of medievalism, and return to the Hellenic ideal--to something finer, richer, than the Hellenic ideal, it may be. But the bravest man amongst us is afraid of himself. The mutilation of the savage has its tragic survival in the self-denial that mars our lives. We are punished for our refusals. Every impulse that we strive to strangle broods in the mind, and poisons us. The body sins once, and has done with its sin, for action is a mode of purification. Nothing remains then but the recollection of a pleasure, or the luxury of a regret. The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful. It has been said that the great events of the world take place in the brain. It is in the brain, and the brain only, that the great sins of the world take place also.

Young Dorian does not resist. ( )
  Meredy | Dec 31, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wilde, Oscarprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ackroyd, PeterIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beraud, JeanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brassinga, AnnekeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bristow, JosephEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Callow, SimonIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Calzini, RaffaeleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cauti, CamilleIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Clark, Emma ChichesterIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Corcos, LucilleIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Crossley, StevenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Drew, John M LIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eugenides, JeffreyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gaulke, JohannesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gómez de la Serna, JulioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gullvåg, HåkonIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heuvelmans, TonAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, GarethDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kaila, KaiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
König, Eva-MariaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kosztolányi, DezsőTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Manso, LeoIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mathias, RobertCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maurois, AndréIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maurois, AndréIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mighall, RobertIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morgan, JohnDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Murray, Isobel M.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Naugrette, Jean-PierreIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Novák, Jiří ZdeněkTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nuis, AadAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Page, MichaelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Piglia, PaolaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prebble, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ross, TonyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sheen, MichaelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shi, YuanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Toledo, RubenIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Trugo, LuiIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Welsh, IrvineIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
White, EdmundIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Winwar, FrancesIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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First words
The studio was filled with the rich odor of roses, and when the light summer wind stirred amid the trees of the garden, there came through the open door the heavy scent of lilac, or the more delicate perfume of the pink flowering thorn.
La fragancia de las rosas llenaba el estudio y, al soplar entre los árboles del jardín la suave brisa estival, entraba por la puerta abierta el fuerte olor de las lilas o el perfume más sutil del rosado espino en flor.
Quotations
'Your rank and wealth, Harry; my brains, such as they are -- my art, whatever it may be worth; Dorian Gray's good looks -- we shall all suffer for what the gods have given us, suffer terribly.'
'Harry,' said Basil Hallward, looking him straight in the face, 'every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter. The sitter is merely the accident, the occasion. It is not he who is revealed by the painter; it is rather the painter who, on the coloured canvas, reveals himself. The reason I will not exhibit this picture is that I am afraid that I have shown in it the secret of my own soul.'
He played with the idea and grew willful; tossed it into the air and transformed it; let it escape and recaptured it; made it iridescent with fancy and winged it with paradox. The praise of folly, as he went on, soared into a philosophy, and Philosophy herself became young, and catching the mad music of pleasure, wearing, one might fancy, her wine-stained robe and wreath of ivy, danced like a Bacchante over the hills of life, and mocked the slow Silenus for being sober. Facts fled before her like frightened forest things. Her white feet trod the huge press at which wise Omar sits, till the seething grape-juice rose round her bare limbs in waves of purple bubbles, or crawled in red foam over the vat's black, dripping, sloping sides. It was an extraordinary improvisation. He felt that the eyes of Dorian Gray were fixed on him, and the consciousness that amongst his audience there was one whose temperament he wished to fascinate seemed to give his wit keenness and to lend colour to his imagination. He was brilliant, fantastic, irresponsible. He charmed his listeners out of themselves, and they followed his pipe, laughing. Dorian Gray never took his gaze off him, but sat like one under a spell, smiles chasing each other over his lips and wonder growing grave in his darkening eyes.
Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.
The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.
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This is the main work for The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Please do not combine with any adaptation, abridgement, etc.
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
Dorian Gray has just had his portrait painted. It is a perfect likeness of the quite extraordinary beautiful young man, and it prompts him to make a mad wish for eternal youth. In the years to come, he devotes his public life to and aestheticism-and his private one to decadence and debauchery.
AR7.7, 14 Pts
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375751513, Paperback)

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."

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:24:35 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

An exquisitely beautiful young man in Victorian England retains his youthful and innocent appearance over the years while his portrait reflects both his age and evil soul as he pursues a life of decadence and corruption.

» see all 45 descriptions

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6 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141439572, 0141037687, 0141442468, 014119264X, 0143106147, 0141199490

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