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on 24 May 2006
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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on 23 June 2003
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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on 8 September 2010
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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on 23 February 2015
Set in the 19th century, London, the story begins on a beautiful summers day with two wealthy men talking. Basil Hallward, a painter and Lord Henry, who lives a luxurious, decadent lifestyle.
They are at Basil's house and Basil is telling Lord Henry about the painting he has created of a young, stunningly good looking man called Dorian Gray who comes and sits for him. He explains how Dorian Grey has changed the way in which he paints, how he has improved his character, his art and his view on life including his obsession with him.
By chance, whilst Lord Henry is there, Dorian drops by. On being introduced to Lord Henry, even his cynical character is surprised at the beautiful looks of Dorian. He observes Dorian for a while and comes to the conclusion that while Dorian is extremely handsome he is not really aware of his good looks.
Lord Henry decides to take Dorian out into the garden and have a quiet word with him and basically tells him he has youth and looks on his side. But these will only last a few years, and when they begin to fade, nobody will be interested in anything he has to say or do. So he should live for the moment using and taking everything he can by utilizing his looks and youth to live life to the full and experience the sensual world.
These words really strike a chord with Dorian as nobody has ever pointed this out to him before.
Dorian returns to inside Basil's house and resumes to sit for the picture. Basil completes it and tells Dorian he will not be exhibiting it but will give it to Dorian as a gift.
When asked to look at the finished painting, on seeing it, Dorian bursts into a fit of tears. Exclaiming that he hates it as he declares that as he ages this picture will remain the same and be a constant reminder of the beautiful looking man he once was. Going as so far as to demand he wants the painting destroyed. Basil is about to do so by slashing it with a knife, but just at the final moment, Dorian tells him to stop and says he will keep the painting. He takes the painting home. He wishes that the painting would age while he maintains his looks. He gets his wish...
Dorian falls in love with an amateur actress, Sibyl Vane, that performs at a dingy theatre in Holborn. He goes to watch her perform every night in various different roles. He is in love with the way she acts as much as her beauty. They meet regularly backstage and they are enamoured with each other.
One night he invites Basil and Lord Henry to see her perform. At this point Sybil has decided she is no longer fully in love with her art of acting and prefers to dedicate her love to Dorian. The night Basil and Lord Henry are watching her, she performs extremely poorly. They both dismiss her to Dorian saying she's nothing but a mediocre actress with a pretty face. Not only does this humiliate Dorian but it also causes him to lose his affections towards her as her charm for him was the combination of her art and physical beauty. He cannot accept her with just one of those facets. After the end of the play he goes back stage and very abruptly breaks off the romance with her, leaving her a crumpled sobbing mess on her stage room floor.
On arriving home Dorian takes a look at his self portrait and notices that the mouth has significantly altered in a crude hideous fashion. He thinks about what he has just done to Sybil and his wish of the picture to age in his stead. This intensely bothers him. He feels the painting is showing him his true soul, and every sin he commits the picture will distort further. Unable to look at his distorted mouth any longer he drapes a tapestry over the painting and decides he will make amends with Sybil and regain his love for her.
Shortly after ending their affair Dorian is informed by Lord Henry who brings him the paper which states that Sybil Vane was found dead in her dressing room after having consumed prussic acid. He is initially shocked but the callus Lord Henry tells him not to waste his grief on her, that they would never have been happy together and to forget her. Lord Henry lends him an influential, dark book of corruption which seems to make a strong impression on Dorian and from this point onwards his character significantly changes. He leads a double life. Attending lavish dinner parties with London's elite and alternately, in disguise, would frequent opium dens, behave promiscuously, drink heavily and get into fights with sailors. He would use his ageless good looks to lure people in to becoming friends with him but after some time of his company these people would leave the room whenever he entered, talk of his misdemeanours behind his back and couldn't even bare to look upon his face. It was as if his mesmerising visage was now working against him...
There is also a subplot where by Sybil's younger brother, James, had sworn earlier in the novel that if he ever believed that Dorian has treated his sister badly he will hunt him down and kill him.
One night Dorian decides to take a look at his portrait and is horrified at what he sees. A haggard, old, withered man looks back at him from the picture.
Without spoiling the culmination of the novel, from here on, Dorian is pushed over the edge.
I enjoyed reading this book as I have heard so much about what a great piece of work it is but I've never really known what it was about. I read it out of curiosity really.
It's definitely a philosophical book regarding vanity, looks and how people are treated in society if they are considered extremely attractive.
Clearly you have to suspend disbelief in terms of the story line but there is certainly a clear moral lesson that the author is conveying by the end of the novel.
For the first half I felt that Lord Henry carries the story with his theories on love, women, marriage, all in a generally cynical and hedonistic fashion. He was the most interesting character in the book.
From the moment Lord Henry sees Dorian Gray he views him as something innocent and easily corruptible for his own pleasure. It's as if Lord Henry lights Dorian Gray's blue touch paper, sits back and waits for the fireworks. By the end of the novel Dorian is a flake.
It's an extremely elaborate read, that I felt required a fair amount of concentration. There were subjects that could have been described in half a dozen sentences that had extensive paragraphs written in order to get the message across. However the novel is also extremely eloquent and transports you to a bygone era which was enchanting to read.
Even though this is the 'toned down' version of the novel, which Wilde had to rewrite because the original offended the Victorian publics sensibilities, the homosexual undertones are still very clear at the beginning.
For fans of high society living in the Victorian era, this is a must read on your list.
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on 16 March 2010
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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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 September 2009
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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VINE VOICEon 15 June 2015
Finally published in April 1891 `The Picture of Dorian Gray' must rank as one of the literary masterpieces of the late 19th century. As the portrait is completed, the young Dorian Gray - wealthy, decadent and impossibly handsome - wishes for it to age whilst he remains youthful and lives a life of sin and pleasure.

As Dorian's wish is granted the book becomes a story of decadence, of murder and of suicide: locked away in the attic of his palatial London house, the portrait ages and, over a period of 18 years, reflects every aspect of his self-indulgent and hedonistic lifestyle. Until, finally...

The novel itself (the only novel written by Oscar Wilde) contains, of course, a superb collection of his epigrams. At several places, particularly when Lord Henry Wotton is expounding - ad nauseam? - some subtle point of morality, it's easy to appreciate Oscar's comment `I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying.'

Or, from a different and much earlier source, comes that more profound question `For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?'

In 1945 The Picture of Dorian Gray 1945 (region 2) was produced as a movie starring George Sanders.
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on 18 April 2013
Well what can you say I enjoyed the flm and decided to read the book and I certainly wasn't disappointed I found it quite fascinating and an enjoyable read.
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on 27 August 2007
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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on 30 October 2014
So, after watching the film ' Dorian Gray' which I thoroughly enjoyed and found very thought provoking, I thought it appropriate that I read the book in which it had been adapted from, written by the infamous Oscar wild, whom I haven't had the pleasure of reading before. Golly was I impressed! Wilde was so descriptive the whole way through, allowing the reader to Gage an insight into the deep emotions of Dorian which could not be conveyed so meticulously in the film, and described surroundings with such fluidity. I never felt like the story dragged, it went at a perfect pace with no unnecessary details. I gave it four stars however, because in the middle of the story, in my opinion Oscar Wilde did let the story drag just a bit due to too much information in how much Dorian had learnt from reading. Generally though it was a GREAT book, defiantly one to read! Already a fan of Oscar!!:)
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