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187 of 196 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "To define is to limit."
Let me start by asserting that I'm pretty much an ordinary guy - I'm 17 and come from a UK comprehensive school. I've only recently tried dipping into the classics half-seriously and have little experience with the likes of Oscar Wilde. Sure I'm aware of 'The Importance of Being Earnest' and some of his witty one-liners, but until I bought 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' I...
Published on 25 Feb 2003 by RE TRANTER

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great novel; medium leather binding quality
'The picture of Dorian Gray' ranks among the top-novels I have ever read. There's no question about that.

As for the leather binding:
I guess the book's relatively low price reflects the quality.
The leather (same quality as the bags the same company produces?) seems to be simply scotched to an otherwise well printed book (better paper quality than a...
Published on 30 Sep 2009 by Tom Catteau


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187 of 196 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "To define is to limit.", 25 Feb 2003
By 
RE TRANTER "rhystranter" (Penarth, UK) - See all my reviews
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Let me start by asserting that I'm pretty much an ordinary guy - I'm 17 and come from a UK comprehensive school. I've only recently tried dipping into the classics half-seriously and have little experience with the likes of Oscar Wilde. Sure I'm aware of 'The Importance of Being Earnest' and some of his witty one-liners, but until I bought 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' I had no serious interest in this man.
Classics are often interpreted by the public as fairly difficult to access; they are often hefty, dense and reserved for the University intelligentsia to comprehend. But this book is very different.
It contains the important and interesting psychological themes of hubris (pride and insolence) and also features the classic 'Faustian Pact' scenario: where an individual is willing to sell her or his own soul in return for something.
I suppose the MAIN appeal of this book is its narrative. Oscar Wilde writes - well - he writes 'wonderfully'. His prose is absolutely fascinating to read, and its rhythms guide you at a gentle pace through the book. Another key factor regarding the narrative is that it is generally interesting. There are so many classic books out there which can be difficult to access for the more impatient of us, but this one really is easily accessible for almost anyone. Did I mention that it contains some really brilliant one-liners?
...It's so cheap you'd be crazy not to give it a go.
It tackles themes through 'interesting' (I mean, genuinely interesting) metaphors, the characters are fascinating, the narrative is funny, acerbic, satirical and enthralling. While the story - the story itself - it just a pleasure to read. It contains a little love, a little humour, lots of tension and is ultimately a tragedy. Man - I URGE you to buy it. You can bombard me with emails if your opinions are contrary to mine; and you genuinely think that buying it was a waste of money.
I finish by saying, in my opinion this is 'probably' the best book I have ever read. And I have read a fair few (modern or otherwise) of the others that the critics keep throwing at us. But this one is a genuine treat. Wow - thinking over it, you really would have to be pretty insane to pass this one up. It's so darn cheap!
Buy it. :)
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14 of 14 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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158 of 166 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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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thanks to Kindle.......Undiscovered by me until now!, 8 Sep 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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A picture says a thousand words..., 22 Dec 2009
By 
Amanda Pike (NY) - See all my reviews
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In roughly three weeks Dorian Gray starring Ben Barnes comes to DVD in the UK (and I intend to buy it. I have a region free DVD player and sadly there was never a US release of this film). I haven't seen this film version yet and I know it strays from the original novel but that's not the worst thing in the world. I've seen a version where Basil was a woman and it was set in the nineteen sixties with really bad acting. Now that was terrible. And there's also the 1944 version of The Canterville Ghost that turned it into World War 2 propaganda. So I don't mind what they've done with the Ben Barnes version of Dorian Gray.

But since I am waiting for this adaptation I would like to write a review now for the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I LOVE the work of Oscar Wilde. Allow me to stress that. I absolutely love the work of Oscar Wilde. My two favourite works of his are The Canterville Ghost and The Picture of Dorian Gray.

The Picture of Dorian Gray tells the story of a young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty. While he remains flawless, a portrait of himself grows uglier every time he sins. He cannot die unless you destroy the painting.
Thanks to temptation and vice Dorian falls into hedonism and debauchery. As he externally remains pure and untainted his soul bears the burdens of his actions as reflected in the painting. Dorian learns the hard way that it's not physical beauty that matters but the inner beauty of one's own soul in qualities of kindness, mercy and compassion, things that he had lost along the way for selfishness, hedonism and greed.

Dorian's fall from grace is a road lined with wit and humour. The story is riddled with clever epigrams (witty, short sayings) mostly said by the morally questionable character, Lord Henry.
Lord Henry is a surprisingly naive character who plants bad ideas and temptations into Dorian's head while he, himself, doesn't seem to actually commit any sin he talks about. He even has the naive notion that people of their status don't do things like murder, as if such crimes are vices only of the lower classes.

The picture of Dorian Gray is a very good and interesting read that talks about social conformity, morality, hedonism, and good and evil. The messages are not heavy handed and it's an intelligently written story.

People of Oscar Wilde's era who called it an immoral book were made uncomfortable by Dorian's descent and lack of redemption but ultimately he was punished for his sins. Others noticed the subtle hints of homosexuality and bisexuality in the story but these things were kept subtle as this was a Gothic Victorian novel.
Many people over-estimate how much homosexual content there is in this book or they don't see it at all but in fact it was actually very subtle and you only notice it if you are looking for it.
However lines such as 'The world is changed because you are made of ivory and gold. The curve of your lips rewrite history.' - which was engraved in a cigarette case given to Dorian by Lord Henry make the relationships obvious to the astute reader.

The sexuality of the characters isn't even an issue. Poor Oscar Wilde was far ahead of his time in this regard.

It's Dorian's decadence, hedonism and selfishness that cause his downfall and prove the moral lesson of the story; the value of the soul and inner beauty over external eternal flawlessness.
Dorian might have had eternal youth and beauty but it was at the price of the eternal beauty and youth that comes from a good natured and kind soul. And Dorian, being an aesthete could only see this transformation when his soul was physically manifested in a portrait that changed with the changing of his nature.
The 1940s movie adaptation of the story (the first film adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray) held the hope of redemption in showing that in acts of compassion the portrait could change for the better. This was something the novel lacked though it is still a fine novel.
Oscar Wilde was right when he said there is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. There's only well written or poorly written books and The Picture of Dorian Gray is very well written.

This isn't an action packed thriller (though there are some intense moments). This isn't a romance about an immortal with a teenage lover (though something of that does happen). This is NOT Twilight. This story actually has substance.
This is more of an exploration of a character's nature and all of human nature in the process, the flaws of modern superficiality, selfishness and hedonism and the power the spiritual can still have over human consciousness. It's sad that for all of Dorian's shallowness he had to physically see it to feel the weight of his conscience instead of just knowing what he was doing was wrong but this is the flaw of the character and the reason behind his downfall. Dorian was a true aesthete to a dangerous extreme. Oscar Wilde was making a statement about society that many even today either don't get or don't want to get.

The Picture of Dorian Gray is written in a nice flowing prose. It's written in a third person perspective novel, not first person perspective, not alternating, and certainly not epistolary (which was a very popular style of fiction writing in Oscar Wilde's time).

I strongly recommend The Picture of Dorian Gray. It is a true classic.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the first "modern" novels, 5 July 2003
This book does have its weaknesses - there is a tedious wad of padding in the middle, the brilliant quips sit uneasily with the more subtle attempts at characterisation and some of the plot devices are too obvious. But there are many things in this work which are surprisingly good. The atmosphere of wealthy late-19th century London is beautifully captured with the sparest of writing. The novel darkens in tandem with the painting and the more gruesome scenes make grim reading even today. The book has tremendous pace (mostly !) and largely avoids the tedium and long-windedness of his contemporaries. At times it feels like a much more recently written book. As expected, Wilde comes up with some of his most hilarious lines, often in macabre contrast to the general goings on. There is plenty to please the deconstruction geeks - the early garden scene mirrors the Garden of Eden and no prizes for guessing whom Satan is ! This is a really good read, as light or heavy as you wish it to be. However, there are some unfortunate instances of anti-semitism in some parts which younger readers should be alerted to.
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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 Sep 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vanity, 27 Aug 2007
By 
P. C. McDonald (UK) - See all my reviews
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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
1.0 out of 5 stars Spoiler in the in the preface, 28 July 2013
Do not read the introduction! It contains a synopsis of the main text.

I read through this synopsis only realising I was ruining the book for myself as it spelled out the details of the ending. I had read assuming that no editor would be so stupid as to put something in the introduction that would affect the reading of the main text.

Unbelievable.
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