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on 17 January 2016
I come away from this book with mixed feelings. The story is enjoyable and the famous Oscar Wilde wit lives up to its reputation. But you can have too much of a good thing. After a dozen pages of non-stop aphorisms, quips, adages, repartees, counter-repartees, Greek-mythology-based zingers and 1890s satirical in-jokes, the text starts to feel turgid (to say nothing of the book's prolific employment of such words as 'spikenard', 'antinomianism' and 'dalmatic'). A book to be read and appreciated, for sure - just not one that blew me away.
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on 10 October 2012
I knew the central theme of this book so well that I had almost persuaded myself I had read it, but I am glad to have convinced myself otherwise as I would have missed out on a pearl. It works on several levels: first as a superior horror story, with Dorian Gray effectively selling his soul for eternal youth, with all the marks not only age but of debauchery, sin and eventually murder appearing on the portrait which he has locked away in his attic; secondly a morality tale of vice, remorse and retribution; thirdly as a philosophical discourse on hedonism and its consequencs as practised by a section of the upper classes in late Victorian society; finally as a comment on contemporary attitudes to homosexuality, still illegal at this time and for the best part of a century afterwards (the author Oscar Wilde was of course notoriously imprisoned for transgression).

The language is deliberately mannered and at times almost overblown, teeming with typical Wildean epigrams and paradoxes which are usually articulated by Gray's mentor, the cynical Lord Henry Wotton, who leads Gray into self-destructive pleasure-seeking. In the background of the narrative nature imagery abounds, setting into relief the stiflingly artificial lives and discourses of high society.

The novel might best be described as a blend of gripping story and moral essay or discussion involving the active participants (like Plato's'Republic'). It is the story, however, and the final image of bloody atonement, that remains longest in the memory and for which the book is justly famous.

Reviewer David Williams blogs regularly as Writer in the North.
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on 4 March 2013
"The Picture of Dorian Gray" is always worth a re-read; it is easy to forget what a masterful piece of fiction it is. The concept is well-known and barely needs repetition; Dorian Gray's youth is maintained whilst his unreptentantly sinful lifestyle is reflected in the degradation of a previously beautiful and flawless portrait of the titular character.

Wilde's philosophical musings are immense and he deftly conveys the lack of "accepted" morality of Lord Henry with sympathy and wit. Dorian veers from being a sympathetic protagonist, caught in a web of his own egotistical urges and then to a heartless, arrogant and hedonistic man who shrugs responsibility for any of his actions and passes it to anyone else but himself.

Thankfully, the philosophical arguments between Gray and various other characters regarding the merits of hedonism and an aesthetically pleasing life do not distract the reader from the plot; they enhance and increase the understanding of the characters.

This is a wonderful novel which explores so many themes and more than that, it is just a fantastically written and absorbing novel. Absolutely recommended.
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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 15 April 2014
The book was far more harrowing than I expected, but in a subtle way. The exploits that Dorian finds himself involved in are generally hinted at, but rarely described. It is quite a dark message that is being conveyed, quite different from some of Wilde's other work.

It is slightly slow at some points, such as when it is detailing Dorian's interest of crystals and music etc. but I thoroughly recommend powering through, as the plots twists are so compelling and brilliant.

Despite the nature of the book, I found it affirming to read. It forces you to appreciate and embrace ageing. It is not a long novel and you certainly won't regret reading it - it has become my favourite classic to date.
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on 3 May 2013
I'm not a literary critic but I would say that the best way to describe Dorian Grey is overly verbose, with is also a finish that J.K. Rowling would consider weak... either way, worth a read as it is an interesting theme with a great premise just not the genius I was expecting

As a side note, apparently the published version is shorter than the original due to inappropriate themes for the time but I would still say when you get bored of the descriptions of how wonderful the curtains are, you should feel free to skip a few pages and join the story after he closes them and sits back down (although he will probably go on to talk about the amazing chair....)
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on 8 July 2016
I have enjoyed reading this book as it depicts the rich life story of Dorian Gray whose appearance took over his life and even despite of a life full of adventures as shocking experiences he had not found what he was looking for. That caused him a great deal of confusion he wasn't able to handle himself. Lies, unhappiness, and the future that was distorted and practically unseen ended his life in a way no one would have dreamed of.
What does beauty mean and how can it change a course of one's life if it's seen only from one view point.
It can be seen on its own as an art to be admired, but also a jail in which one is imprisoned and doesn't know how to get out of without someone's help.
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on 30 August 2015
An interesting story, but more interesting are the spiels that many characters list off at random about subjects ranging from art to women, psychology to history, and everything in-between. You'll find this book less of a short story and more a collection of thoughts that Oscar Wilde had nowhere else to write. An interesting read regardless.
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on 17 October 2014
I think this is a bit dated now. I wanted to read some classics, but Oscar Wilde keeps going off on rambling tangents. When it gets back to the story then It's good, but otherwise I think that there are far better classics to read. I probably skim read at least half of it just to ensure I got to the end. I guess if nothing else, it's an insight into a lifestyle that no longer exists any more.
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