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on 25 January 2017
I had read this years ago and seemed to remember liking it. Having just read it again, I would say it takes a bit of getting into, then its very interesting, then there are chapters of descriptive writing which though excellent of course, are a bit boring, then it becomes interesting again. No one can write quite like him and I find myself continually smiling at the things he says which are so true of human nature. I would say this book is not for everyone, but I would recommend it.
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on 15 October 2011
I decided to have a quick peruse of the one star ratings before writing this review, as I was intrigued to know why people felt so negative towards The Picture of Dorian Gray. Whilst I do agree with some of the criticisms, on the whole this is a beautiful piece of classic literature and the Kindle version is relatively well formatted (could do with page breaks on chapter starts).

This was Oscar Wilde's only novel and upon reading it, I'm not entirely surprised. The narrative is largely driven by dialogue / monologue, although this isn't necessarily a problem. The characters are shallow, aristocratic types, obsessed with fine living and aesthetics, which was precisely what Wilde intended. True, it is often difficult to identify with them, apart from the artist who painted the portrait itself perhaps. The opening chapters are beautifully homoerotic, in the sense that Wilde clearly couldn't overtly describe the interactions between the characters; thus, the language used cleverly hints at the relationships for what they are and this is actually rather a nice change from the contemporary 'in your face' approach.

The only bit I didn't enjoy comes somewhere in the middle, where Wilde sets about describing Dorian Gray's love of things - fabrics, gemstones etc. etc. ad nauseum. After a couple of pages of this I did feel like skipping to the next part.

Otherwise I found this novel almost addictive, to the extent that I even used the experimental text to speech to listen to some of it in the car on the way to work (an interesting experience). It does come to a very abrupt end, which is odd, considering the extensive description and elaboration given to everything else.

All in all, given that the Kindle edition is free and the novel is historically of some importance (as well as being a clever idea), it has to be worth a read. It left me disappointed that Oscar Wilde didn't write more novels, although the reviews here cover the whole range of opinions, so this is definitely one that is in the eye of the beholder.
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on 16 February 2013
I definitly give this novel a 5 star rating. I have read several classics and truly love all of them. I dont think that so far i have ever read a bad one.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde certainly has to rank as one of the best!! This is an absolutely exquisite book, with several points that make it stand out for me. The style of the language, to me, is astounding. I would describe it as aloof and haunting, yet truly beautiful, which could only have been written by a master of his art.

I feel, at several points, some of which have been popularly highlighted, really do make you stop and think. They give you something to ponder on, if you are so inclined. i have read a lot of books thoroughout my lifetime and i am not sure i could say that any modern writers could do this like Oscar Wilde has.

There is a clever use of the controversial throughout, with hints of homosexuality in the upper classes, even though it is never actually mentioned explicitly. There is also the use of sheer vanity and becoming obsessed with self image. Also how lessons can be learned when it is too late.

Charachters are very intense, with strong personaliries. All of these points when put together, make for a rather dark book containing several hidden messages. This is written in an almost gothic style and in some ways is not unsimilar to the novels written by Thomas Hardy.

Overall, i would say that this is one of the most cleverly written classics. Oscar Wilde was a genious!!
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on 5 June 2015
I thought I'd read this as I knew it was about a portrait getting old and the subject remaining young etc. So far so good, but oh what an interesting and cautionary tale it turned out to be. On a simple level it's a fable for grown ups; at a deeper level it's a story looking at what makes us human, maturity and the process of sin. It's themes are as relevant today as when it was written and spookily prophetic. The storytelling allows the roles of the supporting characters to fascinate - what was their point? It's the sort of book that makes me annoying company when reading as I keep saying "Oh, just listen to this bit..." as Wilde's scathing wit and eloquent use of language is delicious throughout. A book I will remember and reflect upon.
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on 7 November 2017
I'm still giving this 4 stars because I knew what I was getting having tried to read it before and found it for free download to my phone but still couldn't get through it. I knew I wouldn't enjoy it really having been put off by studying it at school. It's not Wilde's fault; it's my English teachers'.
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on 13 February 2012
I struggle with a lot of 19th century literature. By today's standard, much of it seems overwritten, with long flowery descriptions and rambling philosophical discourses. That may put off a lot of people from reading it, but tastes change - no doubt modern novels would seem shallow to a reader from past times! Oscar Wildes' writing has all the hallmarks of his time, but it's made readable by his razor sharp wit and vivid imagination. No other author I can think of has so many wonderfully quotable phrases. "I can believe anything, providing it is incredible" to pick one example that struck me. And the central theme of the story - the portrait which shows Gray's character, whilst the man remains ageless - is a brilliant concept, the implications and outcomes of which are explored with skill. Not always easy reading, but worth the effort.
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on 2 October 2010
I tend to have differing tastes in books; I like my fiction to be light, easy to read to escape reality or something like crime that catches the imagination and ensures I can't put it down. I'd heard about Dorian Gray and knew the basics of the story, but it wasn't until I found it on a classic book app on my iPod that I started to read it.

I won't go into the plot, or the specifics; either you know already or you can glean enough from other reviews. I will just say that I found this book to be a visual feast. For something written so long ago the language is descriptive without being too hard to read, and it has inspired me to want to learn more about the themes, motifs and symbols in the book (which I haven't done since English Literature classes 7 years ago).

A book to be treasured (hence why I will be splashing out on the leather bound version) and one I know that I will read again and again and gain something different from each time I do.
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on 8 July 2015
Possibly the greatest factor of this book is Lord Henry. Simply his quotes alone are enough to write several articles on a number of topics, mostly surrounding physiological evaluation. He was the bright intellect that pulled Dorian Gray, and presumably others, to indulge in the darker pleasures of life; Henry himself seeming more to be a Hamlet figure of action, a thinker not a doer.

A brilliantly written novel with all the flair and extravagance that Wilde is famous for. It especially amused me when he talked of how books cannot corrupt a person - perhaps this us an argument to linger in the minds of those who may have found his book/s slightly unconventional for the time?

Either way, a definite read. Highly recommended.
It is from reading this that I now believe Murakami to be Wilde's modern, and notably Asian, counterpart - I certainly felt similarities between this and Kafka on the Shore.
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on 31 December 2011
Written in 1890, this novel may be short but is packed with allusions to other texts (Faust, Huysman's Against Nature ,Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Pygmalion) as well as Wilde's own response to fin de siècle aestheticism.

It's certainly possible to read it as just a good gothic story, but this is a novel which is also deeply engaged with concerns about morality, responsibility, and the role of art and beauty in the world. Like the figure of Gray himself it's a text which plays with doubleness: so we can enjoy merely the witty, Victorian surface but it's worth also placing this text back into its original context and the debates around l'art pour l'art (art for art's sake) that galvanised writers and artists towards the end of the nineteenth century.
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on 1 April 2012
The Picture of Dorian Gray is playwright Oscar Wilde's only novel, but there are many features reminiscent of Wilde's best plays. Many of his most well-known aphorisms, for instance, are to be found here. But it is the combination of light social repartee with gripping gothic horror that gives Dorian Gray its power and poignancy. The fact that Dorian Gray's hedonistic pact with the devil (unwitting as it may be) has passed into our social consciousness in much the same way as the legend of Dracula or the schizophrenia of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde have done, demonstrates just how well Dorian Gray has stood the test of time as a true classic. And like every great thriller, Dorian Gray has a spectacular and perhaps unforeseen ending.
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