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The Picture of Dorian Gray (Penguin Readers (Graded Readers)) Paperback – 1 Nov 1999

4.3 out of 5 stars 490 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Longman; 1st New edition edition (1 Nov. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0582418089
  • ISBN-13: 978-0582418080
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 0.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (490 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 904,181 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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."


"Oscar Wilde just got a little wilder." -- Marcia Kaye Toronto Star 15th July 2012

"The Uncensored Picture of Dorian Gray is the latest edition of Wilde's only novel, but it is also the first. Editor Nicholas Frankel has followed the manuscript Wilde submitted to Lippincott's magazine in early 1890. Frankel poured over the original typescript and about 3,000 handwritten words Wilde added to it, restoring subtle but important romance between the three lead characters... The effect is not radical...but it is noticeable, and the book is more satisfying for his efforts... Frankel's uncensored version is closest to what Wilde intended before editors and hostile critics intervened, and it is also the most pleasurable to read... The Picture of Dorian Gray is a haunting, beautiful and important novel. -- Michael Ruffles Bangkok Post 20120910 Now, for the first time, we can read the version that Wilde intended...Both the text and Nicholas Frankel's introduction make for fascinating reading. -- Sadie Stein, Paris Review, 27th June 2012

" The Picture of Dorian Gray is just as spine tingling, relevant, and original now as it was in 1891. From the compelling story to the musicality of the prose to the symbolism, The Uncensored Picture of Dorian Gray is a great read. " --Catherine Ramsdell, PopMatters, 8th October 2012 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Mass Market Paperback
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Drift beautifully on the surface, and you will die unbeautifully in the depths" (Richard Ellmann)

So wrote the venerable American critic when assessing the artistic message of Dorian Gray. Although Oscar Wilde distanced himself from the idea that his works should have a moral message, he would surely have appreciated the artistic flair that Ellmann displayed in his critical writings. Indeed, his biography of Wilde is infused with a love and a largesse of spirit that Wilde displayed throughout his life and proved, in the end, to be his downfall. Wilde once quipped "I have put all my genius into my life; I put only my talent into my works". However, such epigrammatic brilliance masks that he did indeed put genius into his works. His place in the pantheon of great writers is assured for he mastered many forms: fiction, drama, poetry, children's stories and critical essays. Wilde didn't like his stories for children to be classified solely for children, insistent that they could be read whether you were 8 or 80 years of age. This alludes to an intrinsic aspect of Wilde's writing: his sense of wonder and amazement at the world around him, key faculties that every child possesses and which are very easy to lose as we grow older. These qualities coupled with his fierce intellect mean that to enter the kingdom of Wilde is to be continually surprised, refreshed, entertained and energised.

There are many writers, poets and thinkers who I greatly admire. But if I was to choose a desert island choice, it would have to be Oscar. Having recently re-read The Picture of Dorian Gray (a book which I have given to countless people), I never fail to be charmed and astounded by the radiance of his writing.
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