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The Picture of Dorian Gray (film tie-in) (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 13 Aug 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Film tie-in ed edition (13 Aug. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141191538
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141191539
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (707 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 422,438 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

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." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"A heady late-Victorian tale of double-living, in which Dorian's fatal, corruptive influence over women and men alike is suggestively indistinct." --Sarah Waters, author, " Fingersmith" --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

165 of 173 people found the following review helpful By Kurt A. Johnson on 24 May 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Dorian Gray at the age of eighteen seems blessed beyond all other young men, possessing wealth and beauty. While having his portrait painted by the artist Basil Hallward, Dorian meets Lord Henry Wotton, a cynic and thinker who convinces Dorian that his youth and beauty are his most important possessions. Falling under Lord Henry's spell, Dorian wishes a fateful wish, that he would hold onto his youth and beauty, while his portrait would feel the effects of time and life.

And with his wish granted, Dorian Gray sets out to test all of the virtues and vices that life has to offer, free from the fear that his experiences will leave a mark upon his face. But, to his horror and dismay, Dorian begins to realize that while the mirror reflects the state of his face, the picture reflects the state of his soul.

This book is considered one of the modern classics of Western literature, and it is easy to see why. The book shows off Oscar Wilde's (1854-1900) writing talents to great effect, with the book seeming more like poetry at times. But, the story itself is quite fascinating. "What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" asks Lord Henry, quoting Jesus Christ.

Overall, I found this to be a fascinating read. Oscar Wilde was a great thinker, and in many ways this book shows him at his best and at his worst. Which character represents Mr. Wilde, Lord Henry, Basil Hallward, Dorian Gray, or all three? I would say all three.

This is a great book, one that everyone should read, a book about living and what you do and what you are underneath. I give this book my highest recommendations!
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Ian Gillibrand on 8 Sept. 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I always felt until now that works by Oscar Wilde would be overly flowery and "superficial" and only got this book because it was free on Kindle.
I could not have been more wrong.............Like the earlier reviewer suggested I had a very vague notion of Dorian Gray and the ideals he stood for but reading the novel it seems incredibly relevant to todays image obsessed society and the linked declines in morality.

The book itself is dark in places but still infused with humour and insights into human society and is a delight to read.

On the strength of this experience I have ordered several other "Classics" by authors I otherwise would not have touched.

Highly recommended.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Mr. GJ Borrows on 23 Jun. 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I chose to read this book after watching the original black and white movie in class, even if I didn't understand it due to my absance for the first half of the film. I was very pleased with the book, and the beutiful style of Wilde's prose. It was so sensual in his description.
The book follows the highly narcissitc Dorian Gray, who after having a portrait of himself painted, wishes he would not age and the painting does. The statement be careful what you wish for is stark and powerful here, as we witness the slow demise of the aristocrat. The characters are built wondefully, with Wooton being a personal favourite. The settings are rich in vivdness and the language sublime. This is surely a masterpiece.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sam Woodward TOP 500 REVIEWER on 28 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback
Dorian Gray is the classic portrait of selfishness, sin & redemption, told with Wilde's signature whit, charm & insight. While aestheticism & morality are often perceived as concepts which are at odds with one another, Wilde's position is that youthful good looks reflect spiritual purity because a sinful life will become etched upon the world-weary wrongdoers' face. But as Dorian owns a portrait which ages while he does not, he gets away with "the terrible pleasure of a double life" because his ever-youthful face remains the picture of innocence. However, he cannot prevent his selfish pursuit of pleasure from staining his psyche.

The novel centres on the relationship between Dorian, the painter & lover of beauty Basil Hallward (who seems implicitly in love with Dorian) & the cynical Lord Henry Wotton, who leads Dorian along the path of corruption. Each of these characters represent parts of Wilde himself, who once wrote "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".

As it was written in 1890, this book is charmingly dated in places. Given the religious mores of the time, it's much more restrained than Oliver Parker's 2009 film, with many incidents being implied, rather than filmed close-up in widescreen. There is also much rumination on sin, plus the existence of an afterlife, in which Gray will eventually get his comuppance, is taken as read. However, Dorian is incredibly relevant in our modern society where fame & beauty are seemingly considered much more important than morality.

While some of the concepts in the book seem a little dated, there is still much to ponder & it's worth reading purely for Wilde's charm & penetrating insights. A true classic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Poike on 16 Mar. 2010
Format: Paperback
I am a slow reader, for English is not my native language, however, it did not take so long even for me to finish the Picture of Dorian Gray. This is so fascinating book. First, the plot is inviting that Dorian remains forever young and beautiful while his portrait grows old and corrupt absorbing all his sins. Then, the story itself is eventful such as an actress Sibyl Vane's suicide, murder of Basil Hallward, and James Vane's vindictive act for her sister, etc. Even without realizing it I was engrossed deeply into the world of the author. It may be because Wilde is playwright who knows exactly where to accentuate the story and where to withdraw to please audience or reader.

Wilde also inserts many paradoxical epigrams mostly marked by seemingly experienced but naive character, Load Henry which are so amusing and puzzling. It is as if I was trapped into the author's strategy to perplex reader playfully with his wits and pungent cynicisms about society, matrimonial life, art and so on.

Also, the story is filled with hedonistic notions occasionally insinuating Dorian's visit to opium den or his homosexual relationship with Basil Hallward, but they are not clearly mentioned anywhere, and these undemonstrative expressions leave the story so enigmatic that makes me wonder what in fact happens behind each scene. What interests me most is that Dorian's dissolute life may be displaced with the author's own real life which was always rumored for his homosexuality. I have a feeling that Wilde may have wanted to confess his inclination to his own sex ambiguously somewhere in this story.
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