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The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)

by Oscar Wilde

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
30,31050859 (4)13 / 1277
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.
  1. 220
    The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (chrisharpe)
  2. 170
    The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (sturlington, Morteana)
    sturlington: Read Oscar Wilde at his finest.
    Morteana: Dorian Grey is Wilde in his darkest of moods, but Earnest is one of his lightest.
  3. 130
    The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Writings [Bantam Classics] by Edgar Allan Poe (WSB7)
  4. 92
    Death in Venice by Thomas Mann (roby72)
  5. 60
    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)
  6. 40
    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".
  7. 51
    The Stranger by Albert Camus (SanctiSpiritus)
  8. 84
    Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind (spiphany)
  9. 41
    Oscar Wilde: A Certain Genius by Barbara Belford (veracity)
    veracity: Belford discusses both editions of Dorian Gray.
  10. 20
    The Man in the Picture by Susan Hill (OneMorePage)
  11. 00
    The Wild Ass's Skin by Honoré de Balzac (Lapsus_Linguae)
    Lapsus_Linguae: Both novels use fantastic elements and focus on the depiction of moral degradation of the main heroes.
  12. 00
    Shadow Dance by Angela Carter (rbtanger)
  13. 11
    A fehér tigris by Ervin Lázár (Lucy_Skywalker)
  14. 00
    Eugene Onegin: A Novel in Verse by Alexander Pushkin (TheLittlePhrase)
  15. 00
    Picture of Evil by Graham Masterton (Scottneumann)
  16. 01
    Aubrey Beardsley Drawings by Aubrey Beardsley (SnootyBaronet)
  17. 12
    Six Characters in Search of an Author by Luigi Pirandello (SandSing7)
  18. 57
    The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (chrisharpe)
  19. 03
    Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber (Joles)
  20. 58
    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.

(see all 20 recommendations)

1890s (2)
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Romans (26)

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English (469)  Spanish (14)  French (10)  German (3)  Swedish (2)  Italian (2)  Finnish (1)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Catalan (1)  Arabic (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (506)
Showing 1-5 of 469 (next | show all)
This is one of the greats of literature, IMHO.

Lyrical, Witty, and shameless in how it utterly lambasts the Late Victorian period of England, it is primarily a tale of base moral degradation housed in a pretty shell, rising above its own wit to show us a lot more about what is within us all and scour us just as much as it did the English period.

Wow, right?

Let me go one step further. I can't exactly tell if this is the first time that the idea that moral turpitude was supposed to be reflected upon ugly visages, but I'm willing to point at it as the most popular expression of it. More so than Rob Stevenson's [b:The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde|51496|The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde|Robert Louis Stevenson|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1318116526s/51496.jpg|3164921]. But things are not so simple, of course. Since we're dealing with the mirror of the painting and Basil's (the painter) preoccupation with ART being a reflection of reality, the whole question becomes one of seeming versus reality, art versus life.

When you take on Erasmus's mantle and Praise Folly in order to remain youthful and wise, taking it to the full hedonistic conclusion, everyone loves you but you lose yourself. Oscar gives us deep thoughts and a massively cautionary tale that serves as a straight horror.

(See what I did there? A "straight" horror?) Oh, nevermind. lol, Oscar was put on trial in for indecency charges shortly after this novel. He really shocked the shit out of folks.

Beyond even all this, the tale manages to mightily entertain us as we see such a pure soul get so muddy... for nothing entertains us more than seeing the mighty fall.

Should we blame Basil, the Painter, who was the author and the architect of this horror? Or Lord Henry who hand-held Dorian down into his greatest shames and gave him every justification (the world). Or Dorian himself, who is the very mirror of ourselves, wishing for eternal youth and the ability to have every single one of our wishes come true, with no restriction or force behind his moral compass?

Dorian is the epitome of 'do as thou wilt'. Who is at fault here?

This is what makes this great literature. It's bright, wicked, and corrupt, but we are the ones who give it this power.
( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |

[Reviewed as part of The Illustrated Book Club. Contains some mild spoilers]

It's taken so long to produce the cover (apologies), that my memory of the story has dimmed somewhat - I'll write the reviews straight after reading, from now on!

I enjoyed the book greatly. Wilde's trademark wit is evident in abundance, and the wonderful series of aphorisms that preface the book lay out the principles of his Aesthetic philosophy in sparkling fashion. It's interesting therefore that the book itself seems to stand apart from these principles, even to criticise them. The 19th century Aesthetic movement rejected artistic realism, and sought to emphasise surface beauty and artifice, divorced from moralising. As Wilde himself puts it: "There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all." And yet, Dorian Gray is undoubtedly a moral book: for all its wit, its style and surface beauty, it is - ironically - a cautionary tale concerning those who judge by appearances and take amoral delight in sensuality. This in itself seems to be a criticism of some of the worst excesses of Aestheticism - an example of the type of paradox that Wilde loved to delight in? Or perhaps a sign that Wilde was attempting to use his own art as a form of self-criticism? Not sure. But anyway, it makes the book more fascinating and worth (at some point, I'm certain) a re-reading - which is, ultimately, the test of any book. For as Wilde also said, "If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all."

Gareth Southwell is a philosopher, writer and illustrator.
  Gareth.Southwell | May 23, 2020 |
It's wonderful! Despite of the chapter where he describes what Dorian was doing through the years, like collect jewels, it's a fantatistic book.
Oh, and dandyism is life! ( )
  vhfmag | May 20, 2020 |
I'd consider The Picture of Dorian Gray to be a good litmus test for a reader's opinion of aestheticism, but I didn't find much aesthetic value here either.

There's certainly no profound insight. If you read about the way Dorian Gray and Lord Henry lived their lives and were in any way surprised that they weren't ever very happy, then maybe you did learn a lesson here, and more power to you. But viewing the idea that self-indulgent narcissism leads to unhappiness as anything other than axiomatic at this point would really shock me.

Taking into account the text itself along with later statements from Oscar Wilde, I guess I could be wrong. A little over halfway through the book, Lord Henry gives Dorian a copy of Joris-Karl Huysmans' Against Nature. I've read that book. It sucks. It's about a narcissistic hedonist who is sad, then he locks himself in his house and buys a bunch of stuff, and then he's sad more. Dorian somehow reads the book and says to himself, "Hey, this could work for me despite all evidence to the contrary." He then buys a bunch of stuff and continues to be sad. Now, Oscar Wilde didn't just read The Picture of Dorian Gray, he wrote it. But here's a real quote from the guy: "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." Despite writing him as constantly miserable, Wilde wanted to be Dorian, and nowadays who doesn't love Oscar Wilde? The weird chain continues.

Wilde wouldn't have cared much about the impact of the ideas behind his work, though. He fought on the front lines of the Aesthetic movement, creating art to create beauty rather than to make something one might consider useful. I don't take that particular view of art, and that's alright, because "What is art?" is a question without an objective answer. Wilde's aestheticism wouldn't be a problem if this were a beautiful book, rather than just a witty one.

If you think muttering to yourself, "Ooh, good line!" means you're reading a good book, then this will qualify. The world-renowned wit of Oscar Wilde bears its fangs here for sure. But that's all there is. Each character is a collection of adjectives rather than fully human. Each decision, each turn of the plot, each entrance and exit is made with the ending of the book in mind rather than an organic exploration of human thought and interaction. So all you're left with is wit, and wit all by itself gets stale and obnoxious in a hurry.

Dorian Gray is obviously dumb and bad, and everything he does is obviously dumb and bad. The prose isn't worth anything unless you're the type of person who likes to use the word "quip." So why read this? My guess is some readers are looking for an opportunity to justify their shitty behavior. Don't do that. It's OK to feel a little shame every once in a while.
( )
  bgramman | May 9, 2020 |
i hated the first third of this book. it felt shallow, and petty, and pretentious. somewhere along the line, i realized im reading a work of genius. it was a wonderful feeling! its too complex for my little head, but i could feel it in my bones. spent the next few moments after reading this looking for videos of smart people discussing the book. highly recommended reading. ( )
  riida | Apr 28, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 469 (next | show all)

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Wilde, OscarAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ackroyd, PeterIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Allen, JerryIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Amante, MarcoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Amberg, BillCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Arnold, HansCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Bini, Benedettatraduzione e curasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.
'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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Dorian Gray, un giovane di straordinaria bellezza, si è fatto fare un ritratto da un pittore. Ossessionato dalla paura della vecchiaia, ottiene, con un sortilegio, che ogni segno che il tempo dovrebbe lasciare sul suo viso, compaia invece solo sul ritratto. Avido di piacere, si abbandona agli eccessi più sfrenati, mantenendo intatta la freschezza e la perfezione del suo viso. Poiché Hallward, il pittore, gli rimprovera tanta vergogna, lo uccide. A questo punto il ritratto diventa per Dorian un atto d'accusa e in un impeto di disperazione lo squarcia con una pugnalata. Ma è lui a cadere morto: il ritratto torna a raffigurare il giovane bello e puro di un tempo e a terra giace un vecchio segnato dal vizio.
Haiku summary
Miroir, oh, miroir.
Dis-moi qui est le plus beau!
Je sais le plus laid.
L'âme en ce portrait. Miroir d'hier et du jour. Choc et élégance.

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Penguin Australia

6 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

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

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2 editions of this book were published by Urban Romantics.

Editions: 1907832335, 1907832378

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