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163 of 171 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the modern classics of Western literature
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...
Published on 24 May 2006 by Kurt A. Johnson

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Give it 80 pages and you may be hooked...
3*

(I have a lot to say about this one)
It would be easy to dismiss this book. The writer and his characters, I think, lack the moral compass. That said, Oscar Wilde had something to say about what sin does to a person and how it can even affect one's countenance. There is no cure for a hard heart or a life lived only to watch out for one's self. Only...
Published on 29 Feb. 2008 by AngieAngleways


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163 of 171 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the modern classics of Western literature, 24 May 2006
By 
Kurt A. Johnson (North-Central Illinois, USA) - See all my reviews
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars Thanks to Kindle.......Undiscovered by me until now!, 8 Sept. 2010
By 
Mr. Ian Gillibrand "A dreamer" (Cornwall.UK) - See all my reviews
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars Be Careful What You Wish For, 23 Jun. 2003
By 
Mr. GJ Borrows "[green eyes]" (Liverpool, England) - See all my reviews
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars "What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?", 28 Sept. 2009
By 
Sam Woodward (UK) - See all my reviews
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining real literature, 16 Mar. 2010
By 
Poike (Tokyo, Japan) - See all my reviews
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.

Isn't it true irony that Wilde's own life was devastated by his own creation of the book as Dorian ended up being haunted by ghost of people whom he did so much wrong, then tried to be redeemed from his sins by slashing the portrait, but was avenged by it or "himself" at last?

It is pity to learn that this story was so severely criticized due to its immorality back then although this is full of entertaining factors as well as essences of genuine literature. Even as Asian residing in a small island country of Far East, I found this story very individual, entertaining, inviting, and this is one of the most interesting books I have ever read of English classic literature.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vanity, 27 Aug. 2007
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Oscar Wilde was not afraid of the dark side of human nature and I'm quite sure he knew his demons very well.

Dorian Gray was a susceptible and easily led young man who believed his own press.

Fantasic story. Read it as such or delve deeper and you will find a much darker thread that will perhaps be visible the next time you look in the mirror.

Our society, so caught up in the aesthetic, would perhaps benefit much from the lesson that is contained in the Picture of Dorian Gray.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Cultural Masterpiece, 26 April 2007
By 
David (Harrogate, North Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
It is rare that I would award five stars, but no other work could be more deserving. This novel is magnificently and intelligently written, conveying many themes vividly and simultaneously.

The novel chiefly addresses the role of art in (Victorian) society, and does so while maintaining an intense depiction of London life during the period. Wilde considers life as a play; a book; or a piece of music. Dorian, who represents at the beginning of the novel a shallow yet unspoiled character, is gradually corrupted and is taught by Lord Henry to consider looking on his life as an outsider - banishing reality and imagining that he were a spectator of an extensive play; the plot of which is his own life.

By revealing to us the grave consequences of doing so, Wilde also ensures that the reader has a clear idea of the hypocrisy and dangerous attitudes of 19th century polite society. The reader feels fascinated by the erudite conversations between Lord Henry and his friends, often appalled by the carelessly constructed opinions. Such opinions are at the very heart of Dorian's corruption and eventual downfall, and we gradually begin to see his mind consumed by Lord Henry's thoughts. The distant narrative also allows the reader to come to his own conclusions, which perhaps makes the novel even more powerful.

The plot is fantastically simple, and indeed very little happens other than dinner parties and trips to the theatre. However, this makes the work nonetheless gripping (with a potently dramatic ending), and this book is certainly not waffly or tedious. Far from it; Oscar Wilde delivers a masterpiece to all of us, and reveals the terrifying consequences of vanity, thoughtlessness and, most of all, sin.

"The Picture Of Dorian Gray" is a masterpiece without doubt, and for £2 is difficult to reject. A "must read" for anybody.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Luxurious Read...the Bentley of BOOKS, 24 Jan. 2009
By 
I. Ramadi (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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Buyers of any Bill Amberg Penguin Classics will find their books safely deposited within a box. Opening the box, unwrapping the cover and reading the inlay card is an experience in itself as it feels like opening a luxury gift and the card describes how the leather was made (no cows were slaughtered, they died naturally) and the process it went through.

The book has a leather cover and leather book mark, and the feel of the book whilst reading the book gives it a quality feel of luxury. I think this is the start of a new trend, luxurious books either in leather or other quality materials.

Now for the book itself, I've just received these books and looking forward to showing them off whilst reading during the rush hour traffic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A contrary view, 25 Feb. 2015
By 
hfffoman (Kent) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Picture of Dorian Gray (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback)
Oscar Wilde's writing is renowned for its intelligence and wit. I found it so irritating I couldn't finish the book.

The first problem for me was the pompous chatter of pompous people who have never done a day of work. For some reason, it is wonderful to read Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte and many others writing about people who fall in the same category, but Oscar Wilde's characters were, for me, dull and annoying.

A bigger problem is the famous Oscar Wilde wit. Every few lines we meet a comment which at first glance sounds pithy, witty and wise. After a while I found that most of them were not clever and wise but over-clever, contrived and pretentious. So that you can judge for yourself, I have copied below a sample of such comments. To avoid bias, I have taken them in order, starting at the beginning and including the ones I thought were genuinely good.

If you are tickled by these quotes, you may enjoy the book. If you share my opinion of them, I strongly recommend reading something else.

"there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about"

"beauty ends where an intellectual expression begins"

"Intellect is in itself a mode of exaggeration"

"There is a fatality about all physical and intellectual distinction...The ugly and the stupid have the best of it in this world."

"the one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties"

"Being natural is simply a pose, and the most irritating pose I know"

"I can believe anything, provided that it is quite incredible"

"Conscience and cowardice are really the same things"

"she is a peacock in everything but beauty"

"You like every one; that is to say, you are indifferent to every one"

"I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their good intellects"

"I like persons better than principles, and I like persons with no principles better than anything else"

"genius lasts longer than beauty. That accounts for the fact that we all take such pains to over-educate ourselves...the mind of the thoroughly well-informed man is a dreadful thing. It is like a bric-a-brac shop, all monsters and dust, with everything priced above its proper value."

"Those who are faithful know only the trivial side of love:"

"Each class would have preached the importance of those virtues, for whose exercise there was no necessity in their own lives"
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great story, 4 Jan. 2015
By 
Roger (Bedfordshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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I was surprised to discover that this was the only novel that Oscar Wilde wrote. First written in serial form in 1890 and published in a magazine, Wilde later revised it and it appeared as a book a year later. It was this later version that I read.

The story focuses on the life of Dorian Gray who, as a young man, has his portrait superbly painted by Basil Hallward, an artist who is infatuated with Gray. With its homosexual undertones it is easy to appreciate that this was a controversial story when it was first published.

In exchange for maintaining his youthful beauty as had been expertly captured by Hallward, the narcissistic Gray sells his soul and while his appearance in the picture ages and becomes depraved, he, himself, remains ever young and innocent looking. The price he pays, though, is high and he becomes increasingly degenerate as he dedicates his life to the pursuit of pleasure at the expense of all else. He sinks into an abyss, bringing others down with him.

From the time of the painting onwards, Gray is much influenced by his good friend, Lord Henry, who already lived an hedonistic lifestyle and carries the responsibility for Gray doing likewise. Lord Henry comes across to me as boorish and boring, intolerant of the views of others and always ready to give what he considers to be pithy comments on life, but which struck me as usually rather inane remarks. (It's interesting, therefore, that Wilde is said to have considered that he devised the character of Lord Henry to reflect how he believed he, himself, was perceived by the world.)

Lord Henry and Gray made a fine pair. Both were vain, selfish, snobbish, arrogant and self-centred but Lord Henry kept a better grip and didn't follow Gray down the road of corruption and depravity. Nevertheless, of the three main characters in the book, only the artist comes across as a decent human being.

This is an excellent story and an easy read, especially the early and later chapters. Chapter 11, which marks the downfall of Gray, I found slow moving and tedious, mainly because it contained little dialogue but the pace quickly picked up again.

Despite being first published in 1890 the story contains ideas not out of place in the 21st century. One I liked was "... we live in an age when unnecessary things are our only necessities". Or another gem, "To get back to my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable".
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The Picture of Dorian Gray (Wordsworth Classics)
The Picture of Dorian Gray (Wordsworth Classics) by Oscar Wilde (Paperback - 5 May 1992)
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