The Picture of Dorian Gray

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Press:Tribeca Books Tribeca Books; Edition Unstated edition (November 7, 2013)
Publication Date:2011-4-24
Author Name:Oscar Wilde
Edition:Edition Unstated Edition


Dorian Gray, a handsome young man, receives a beautiful painting of himself from his good friend Basil Hallward. 
In the same moment, a new acquaintance, Lord Henry, introduces Dorian to the ideals of youthfulness and hedonism, of which Gray becomes immediately obsessed.
Meanwhile, the painting in Dorian's possession serves as a constant reminder of his passing beauty and youth, driving his obsession.

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.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From School Library Journal

Grade 10 Up-"The Whole Story" format provides illustrations and  annotations to the classic text. 
Ross's lively and sophisticated cartoons add interest, and historical information helps readers place the novel in proper context and gives insight into its characters.
The problem with this attractive, glossy layout, however, is that the text and the quotes pulled from it are not always on the same page.
Further, some illustrations and notations visually cut into the narrative and may distract readers.
For example, a drawing appears on the first page along with the passage, "In the centre of the room, clamped to an upright easel, stood the full-length portrait of a young man of extraordinary personal beauty," but that quote does not appear until the second page of the story.
Useful as a supplement to the original novel, but not a replacement for it.Karen Hoth, Marathon Middle/High School, FL Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

This Broadview edition includes Wilde's full text along with an introduction, a chronology of Wilde's life, and several appendixes. 
All that for $9.95 makes this a steal.Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


Moral fantasy novel by Oscar Wilde, published in an early form in Lippincott's Magazine in 1890. 
The novel had six additional chapters when it appeared in book form in 1891.
An archetypal tale of a young man who purchases eternal youth at the expense of his soul, the novel was a romantic exposition of Wilde's Aestheticism.
Dorian Gray is a wealthy Englishman who gradually sinks into a life of dissipation and crime.
Despite his unhealthy behavior, his physical appearance remains youthful and unmarked by dissolution.
Instead, a portrait of himself catalogues every evil deed by turning his once handsome features into a hideous mask.
When Gray destroys the painting, his face turns into a human replica of the portrait, and he dies.Gray's final negation, "ugliness is the only reality," neatly summarizes Wilde's Aestheticism, both his love of the beautiful and his fascination with the profane.
Publication of the novel scandalized Victorian England, and The Picture of Dorian Gray was used as evidence against Wilde in his 1895 trial for homosexuality.
The novel became a classic of English literature.
--The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature

From the Publisher

Here in one volume are his immensely popular  novel, The  Picture Of Dorian Gray ;  his last literary work, the Ballad Of   Reading Goal, a product of his own prison  experience; and four  complete plays:Lady  Windermere's Fan, his first dramatic   success; An Ideal Husband, which  continued to poke fun at  conventional  morality; The Importance Of Being Earnest, his   finest comedy; and Salome, a  portrait of uncontrollable love  originally written in  French, now in a new translation by Richard  Elman. 
Every selection appears in its entirely--a marvelous collection of outstanding works by the incomparable Oscar Wilde, whom Max Beerbohm so aptly labeled "a lord of language."

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

Flamboyant and controversial, Oscar Wilde was a dazzling personality, a master of wit, and a dramatic genius whose sparkling comedies contain some of the most brilliant dialogue ever written for the English stage. 
Here in one volume are his immensely popular novel, "The Picture of Dorian Gray; his last literary work, "The Ballad of Reading Gaol," a product of his own prison experience; and four complete plays: Lady Windermere's Fan, his first dramatic success, "An Ideal Husband, which pokes fun at conventional morality, "The Importance of Being Earnest, his finest comedy, and "Salome, a portrait of uncontrollable love originally written in French and faithfully translated by Richard Ellmann.
Every selection appears in its entirety-a marvelous collection of outstanding works by the incomparable Oscar Wilde, who's been aptly called "a lord of language" by Max Beerbohm.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

Spellbound before his own portrait, Dorian Gray utters a fateful wish. 
In exchange for eternal youth he gives his soul, to be corrupted by the malign influence of his mentor, the aesthete and hedonist Lord Henry Wotton.
The novel was met with moral outrage by contemporary critics who, dazzled perhaps by Wilde's brilliant style, may have confused the author with his creation, Lord Henry, to whom even Dorian protests, 'You cut life to pieces with your epigrams.'.
Encouraged by Lord Henry to substitute pleasure for goodness and art for reality, Dorian tries to watch impassively as he brings misery and death to those who love him.
But the picture is watching him, and, made hideous by the marks of sin, it confronts Dorian with the reflection of his fall from grace, the silent bearer of what is in effect a devastating moral judgement.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

<DIV><DIV><DIV>Oscar Wilde (1854 1900) was an influential figure within the Aesthetic Movement. 
He is best known for his barbed wit and his highly successful plays, among them Lady Windemere s Fan (1892) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895).

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

CHAPTER IThe studio was filled with the rich odour of roses, and when the light summer wind stirred amidst the trees of the garden, there came through the open door the heavy scent of the lilac, or the more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn.From the corner of the divan of Persian saddle-bags on which he was lying, smoking, as was his custom, innumerable cigarettes, Lord Henry Wotton could just catch the gleam of the honey-sweet and honey-coloured blossoms of a laburnum, whose tremulous branches seemed hardly able to bear the burden of a beauty so flame-like as theirs; and now and then the fantastic shadows of birds in flight flitted across the tussore-silk curtains that were stretched in front of the huge window, producing a kind of momentary Japanese effect, and making him think of those pallid jade-faced painters of Tokio who, through the medium of an art that is necessarily immobile, seek to convey the sense of swiftness and motion. 
The sullen murmur of the bees shouldering their way through the long unmown grass, or circling with monotonous insistence round the dusty gilt horns of the straggling woodbine, seemed to make the stillness more oppressive.
The dim roar of London was like the bourdon note of a distant organ.In the centre of the room, clamped to an upright easel, stood the full-length portrait of a young man of extraordinary personal beauty, and in front of it, some little distance away, was sitting the artist himself, Basil Hallward, whose sudden disappearance some years ago caused, at the time, such public excitement, and gave rise to so many strange conjectures.As the painter looked at the gracious and comely form he had so skilfully mirrored in his art, a smile of pleasure passed across his face, and seemed about to linger there.
But he suddenly started up, and, closing his eyes, placed his fingers upon the lids, as though he sought to imprison within his brain some curious dream from which he feared he might awake."It is your best work, Basil, the best thing you have ever done," said Lord Henry, languidly.
"You must certainly send it next year to the Grosvenor.
The Academy is too large and too vulgar.
Whenever I have gone there, there have been either so many people that I have not been able to see the pictures, which was dreadful, or so many pictures that I have not been able to see the people, which was worse.
The Grosvenor is really the only place." "I don't think I shall send it anywhere," he answered, tossing his head back in that odd way that used to make his friends laugh at him at Oxford.
"No: I won't send it anywhere."Lord Henry elevated his eyebrows, and looked at him in amazement through the thin blue wreaths of smoke that curled up in such fanciful whorls from his heavy opium-tainted cigarette.
"Not send it anywhere? My dear fellow, why? Have you any reason? What odd chaps you painters are! You do anything in the world to gain a reputation.
As soon as you have one, you seem to want to throw it away.
It is silly of you, for there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.
A portrait like this would set you far above all the young men in England, and make the old men quite jealous, if old men are ever capable of any emotion.""I know you will laugh at me," he replied, "but I really can't exhibit it I have put too much of myself into it."Lord Henry stretched himself out on the divan and laughed.
"Yes, I knew you would; but it is quite true, all the same.""Too much of yourself in it!  Upon my word, Basil, I didn't know you were so vain; and I really can't see any resemblance between you, with your rugged strong face and your coal-black hair, and this young Adonis, who looks as if he was made out of ivory and rose-leaves.
Why, my dear Basil, he is a Narcissus, and you — well, of course you have an intellectual expression, and all that.
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.
Your mysterious young friend, whose name you have never told me, but whose picture really fascinates me, never thinks.
I feel quite sure of that.
He is some brainless, beautiful creature, who should be always here in winter when we have no flowers to look at, and always here in summer when we want something to chill our intelligence.
Don't flatter yourself, Basil: you are not in the least like him."You don't understand me, Harry," answered the artist.
"Of course I am not like him.
I know that perfectly well.
Indeed, I should be sorry to look like him.
You shrug your shoulders? I am telling you the truth.
There is a fatality about all physical and intellectual distinction, the sort of fatality that seems to dog through history the faltering steps of kings.
It is better not to be different from one's fellows.
The ugly and the stupid have the best of it in this world.
They can sit at their ease and gape at the play.
If they know nothing of victory, they are at least spared the knowledge of defeat.
They live as we all should live, undisturbed, indifferent, and without disquiet.
They neither bring ruin upon others, nor ever receive it from alien hands.
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.""Dorian Gray? Is that his name?" asked Lord Henry, walking across the studio towards Basil Hallward."Yes, that is his name.
I didn't intend to tell it to you.""But why not?""Oh, I can't explain.
When I like people immensely I never tell their names to any one.
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.
When I leave town now I never tell my people where I am going.
If I did, I would lose all my pleasure.
It is a silly habit, I dare say, but somehow it seems to bring a great deal of romance to one's life.
I suppose you think me awful foolish about it?""Not at all," answered Lord Henry, "not at all, my dear Basil.
You seem to forget that I am married, and the one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties.
I never know where my wife is, and my wife never knows what I am doing.
When we meet — we do meet occasionally, when we dine out together, or go down to the Duke's — we tell each other the most absurd stories with the most serious faces.
My wife is very good at it, much better, in fact, than I am.
She never gets confused over her dates, and I always do.
But when she does find me out, she makes no row at all.
I sometimes wish she would; but she merely laughs at me.""I hate the way you talk about your married life, Harry," said Basil Hallward, strolling towards the door that led into the garden.
"I believe that you are really a very good husband, but that you are thoroughly ashamed of your own virtues.
You are an extraordinary fellow.
You never say a moral thing, and you never do a wrong thing.
Your cynicism is simply a pose.""Being natural is simply a pose, and the most irritating pose I know," cried Lord Henry, laughing; and the two young men went out into the garden together, and ensconced themselves on a long bamboo seat that stood in the shade of a tall laurel bush.
The sunlight slipped over the polished leaves.
In the grass, white daisies were tremulous.After a pause, Lord Henry pulled out his watch.
"I am afraid I must be going, Basil," he murmured, "and before you go, I insist on your answering a question I put to you some time ago.""What is that?" said the painter, keeping his eyes fixed on the ground."You know quite well.""I do not, Harry.""Well, I will tell you what it is.
I want you to explain to me why you won't exhibit Dorian Gray's picture.
I want the real reason.""I told you the real reason.""No you did not.
You said it was because there was too much of yourself in it.
Now, that is childish.""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 rather the painter who, on the coloured canvas, reveals himself.
The reason I will not exhibit the picture is that I am afraid that I have shown in it the secret of my soul."Lord Henry laughed.
"And what is that?" he asked."I will tell you," said Hallward; but an expression of perplexity came over his face."I am all expectation, Basil," continued his companion, glancing at him."Oh, there is really very little to tell, Harry," answered the painter; "and I am afraid you will hardly understand it.
Perhaps you will hardly believe it."Lord Henry smiled, and, leaning down, plucked a pink-petalled daisy from the grass, and examined it.
"I am quite sure I shall understand it," he replied, gazing intently at the little golden white-feathered disk, "and as for believing things, I can believe anything, provided that it is quite incredible."The wind shook some blossoms from the trees, and the heavy lilac-blooms, with their clustering stars, moved to and fro in the languid air.
A grasshopper began to chirrup by the wall, and like a blue thread a long thing dragon-fly floated past on its brown gauze wings.
Lord Henry felt as if he could hear Basil Hallward's heart beating, and wondered what was coming."The story is simply this," and the painter after some time.
"Two months ago I went to a crush at Lady Brandon's.
You know we poor artists have to show ourselves in society from time to time, just to remind the public that we are not savages.
With an evening coat and a white tie, as you told me once, anybody, even a stockbroker, can gain a reputation for being civilized.
Well, after I had been in the room about ten minutes, talking to huge over-dressed dowagers and tedious Academicians, I suddenly became conscious that some one was looking at me.
I turned half-way round, and saw Dorian Gray for the first time.
When our eyes met, I felt that I was growing pale.
A curious sensation of terror came over me.
I knew that I had come face to face with some one whose mere personality was so fascinating that, if I allowed it to do so, it would absorb my whole nature, my soul, my very art itself.
I did not want any external influence in my life.
You know I did not want any external influence in my life.
I have always been my own master; had at least always been so, till I met Dorian Gray.
Then— but I don't know how to explain it to you.
Something seemed to tell me that I was on the verge of a terrible crisis in my life.
I had a strange feeling that Fate had in store for me exquisite joys and exquisite sorrows.
I grew afraid, and turned to quite the room.
It was not conscience that made me do so; it was a sort of cowardice.
I take no credit to myself for trying to escape.""Conscience and cowardice are really the same things, Basil.
Conscience is the trade-name of the firm.
That is all.""I don't believe that, Harry, and I don't believe you do either.
However, whatever was my motive — and it may have been pride, for I used to be very proud — I certainly struggled to the door.
There, of course, I stumbled against Lady Brandon.
'You are not going to run away so soon, Mr.
Hallward?' she screamed out.
You know her curiously shrill voice?" "Yes; she is a peacock in everything but beauty," said Lord Henry, pulling the daisy to bits with his long, nervous fingers."I could not get rid of her.
She brought me up to Royalties, and people with Stars and Garters, and elderly ladies with gigantic tiaras and parrot noses.
She spoke of me as her dearest friend.
I had only met her once before, but she took it into her head to lionize me.
I believe some picture of mine had made a great success at the time, at least had been chattered about in the penny newspapers, which is the nineteenth-century standard of immortality.
Suddenly I found myself face to face with the young man whose personality had so strangely stirred me.
We were quite close, almost touching.
Our eyes met again.
It was reckless of me, but I asked Lady Brandon to introduce me to him.
perhaps it was not so reckless, after all.
It was simply inevitable.
We would have spoken to each other without any introduction.
I am sure of that.
Dorian told me so afterwards.
He, too, felt that we were destined to know each other."

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From AudioFile

THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY by Oscar Wilde endures with its gems of astute observation and cynical wit. 
The eerie story follows a young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty in the form of a supernatural portrait.
Life's mysterious paradoxes are laced throughout Lord Henry's brilliant aphorisms.
Gray is urged by Henry to "love the wonderful life that is in you." The novel's classic qualities are mired in decadence, "art for art's sake," the new hedonism of the Victorian-era upper class, and societal moral corruption.
Simon Prebble perfectly achieves Lord Henry's "low, languid voice" and sparkling conversation, while avidly expressing the other characters' more torrid emotions.
Prebble brings the fable's gothic horror to life, but the more youthful characters lack believable intonation.
© AudioFile 2009, Portland, Maine

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


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Comment List (Total:13)

  •     <i>The Picture of Dorian Gray</i> is the masterpiece of Oscar Wilde. It is a classic fiction written in the Victorian Age.
  •     I'm not sure what my expectations were having never read but only watched various versions of Dorian Gray in shows, none of which were accurately faithful to the book. I could see how this would have been considered too risque for audiences at the time it was first published, which makes it an interesting note on how much society has changed. The book was slow moving for about the first 40% of the book and did not even move Dorian's story along. It was almost entirely about Lord Henry Wotton and a bit about Dorian, then when it did change perspectives to Dorian it still took a bit to get to the picture's importance. A good portion of the second half of the book was a litany of the "things" that Dorian would obsess over. To be honest I would skim over these and it was fine because all the detail was not necessary. Not a bad book but not a great read either. Simply a provocative book for an era long gone.
  •     It's ok
  •     Doesn't speed up until chapter 12. Makes you think about how influence can affect people and how much people care about art and pleasure.
  •     This was easily one of the best books I have ever read. This book was written over a century ago and still remains popular and insightful.
  •     Disappointed that this was not a graphic novel like it advertised.
  •     Interesting and intriguing view point. It kept me wanting to read more. I loved it!
  •     I almost never leave reviews on classic books, because I figure said books are classics for a reason. Their quality is assured if they've stood the test of time and remain well-known after all these years, right? Even in the case of "classics" that I don't enjoy for whatever reason, such as "Tess of the D'ubervilles," I figure it's merely a case of personal preference and not quality. So it's with some degree of hesitation that I leave a review on such a classic as "The Picture of Dorian Gray," one of Oscar Wilde's best-known works. It's been hailed as a riveting psychological thriller/horror novel, and I figure there must be something to that praise if the book has managed to endure for over a century. Still, I figure that even the words of a modern-day Amazon reviewer should be worth something, even if it's just to deliver a personal opinion.I can see why this book is considered a classic -- it has a lot to say about the human condition, not much of it good, and the horror elements are subtle but well-done. All the same, this book isn't for everyone, and getting through the first half of the book takes a LOT of perseverance.The titular Dorian Gray is a wealthy young man in the prime of his life, considered astonishingly handsome and charming by everyone he meets. When his friend Basil, a painter, creates a portrait of him, Gray mourns that the painting will always be more beautiful than he is and makes a half-serious wish that the painting will age instead of him. To Gray's shock, his wish comes true -- he remains handsome and young-looking, but the figure in his portrait withers and grays with age and vice. At first Gray is delighted by this, but as time passes -- and he falls under the sway of the decadent and reckless Lord Harry -- he starts to feel cursed. And as he lives a life of indulgence and vice, his past crimes begin to catch up to him in ways he could never have imagined...I'll start with the bad regarding this book. Wilde might have been considered a master satirist in his day, but at times it feels like he's in love with the sound of his own voice, especially here. Much of the book is reserved for philosophical discussions between characters regarding the nature of sin, humanity, pleasure, and virtue. And the character who does most of the talking, Lord Harry, has some dismal and downright dangerous things to say about all of the above. It's hard to know if Wilde sincerely believed what he was writing (about pleasure and indulgence being the chief meaning of life and love being a silly, fleeting thing) or if it's just him getting deeply into the head of his decadent antagonist, but all the same it makes for uncomfortable (and often boring) writing. Plus all this philosophizing pads out the length of the book, and makes it so not much of anything plotworthy really happens until the book's midpoint.Also, about two-thirds of the way through the book we get a sudden aside about all the things Gray purchases with his considerable wealth -- and these objects are described in great detail. While I can see that this was Wilde's attempt to show how extravagant Gray's lifestyle had become, it feels like a pointless aside tome.Once one gets past the endless dialogue, however, one finds a quietly chilling story of psychological horror. A creative premise of a painting aging in place of its subject is used quite effectively, and the book builds slowly but surely to its shocking climax. Gray is not exactly a sympathetic character -- he's self-centered and vain even before Lord Harry hooks his claws into him -- but he has his redeeming qualities, and it's hard not to feel his shock and fear as he discovers the secrets of the painting and how his vices are displayed on the canvas for anyone to see. The book's finale is probably obvious by now, given how old this book is, but I won't spoil it just in case...While definitely not for everyone, and a rather slow read compared to modern-day thrillers, "The Picture of Dorian Gray" is still a fascinating psychological thriller, and it's definitely worth a read. Just be prepared for a slow first half...
  •     This is a classic with so much meaning. The underlying themes of passion, sin, guilt, and facing the consequences of ones actions, quite literally in this case is excellent.
  •     great read
  •     A classic in every respect.
  •     I am getting very tired of ordering what I think are professionally prepared books and finding that they are print-on-demand works probably put together by one person that do not adhere to certain standards of the book industry.In this case, the title refers to "other writings" but it does not seem to contain any other writings. In any case, it is hard to tell because there is no table of contents. Chapters do not begin on a new page but (to save money) a new chapter will begin anywhere on the page.Sometimes there are smart quotes. Sometimes there are unformatted quotation marks.Margins are very close to the edges of the pages, again to save money.Most troubling, the original Bantam edition was about 450 pages; this edition is 190 pages.So, I would recommend you go with a name brand publisher instead of ordering this version.Why did I not give it one or two stars? Because I did not notice typos and the entire text of "The Picture of Dorian Gray" appears to be contained here, plus the front and back covers, which contain old portraits of the author, are attractive.
  •     It's a fantastic story that lingers in the imagination long after you've finished reading.

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