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When Dorian has his portrait painted by the brilliant artist Basil Hallward, he realises he will never look as young and beautiful as he does in that oil canvas. He will age and die, and it will stay forever young. Enraged by this he cries out a plea, selling his soul for an eternally youthful face. So the story follows Dorian as he walks down a path of destruction that ultimately leads to his downfall.

I love this book. I've read it so many times and it never ceases to amaze and fascinate me. It’s such a masterpiece. For starters it’s written in such a beautiful way, the language is so beautiful and is full of Wilde’s well known flourish and wit. It’s a wonderful example of a woeful Gothic tale.

The story also continually draws you in, more and more you wish for Dorian’s redemption, that eventually he will find his way back onto the right path and move away from such destruction. I think that’s a mark of how wonderful the book is, that even when all hope is lost, you still have hope for the character.

The book was seen as incredibly shocking when it was published and I can see why. Though it doesn’t go into explicit details about the kinds of behaviour Dorian resorts to, it’s not hard to conjure up some ideas. I think the book also goes a long way to criticise the society at the time and the way we very things like beauty.

“Experience is merely the name men gave to their mistakes.”

The characters are great, not only Dorian, but Basil and Lord Henry, forever the angel and devil on Dorian’s shoulders, attempting to steer him in the right path. Oscar Wilde truly is a master of writing. I don’t know what it is about The Picture of Dorian Gray but I return to it again and again and each time I find something new or intriguing about the text. It’s a very readable book, especially for one written such a long time ago. If you are someone who is often put off by the word classic, this is definitely one to start with. It’s not a long winded tomb of a book, but a very suspenseful and exciting story.

I love the touch of supernatural in the story and the descriptions of Dorian’s portrait as it becomes marred and disfigured have always filled me with a sense of dread.

“I knew nothing but shadows and I thought them to be real.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray is a book that is beloved by many, and I think that alone stands as testament to what a fascinating book it truly is.
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on 7 September 2017
The first couple of chapters were a bit boring, if I'm completely honest. High society talk, restrained homoeroticism, and lightly veiled vitriol masked by dry wit - the perfect Victorian Era British novel.

Read on.

The novel becomes immense, I promise. In fact, the sopoforic first chapters are absolutely necessary for the degeneration and corruption to come. It makes the contrast between light and dark in the novel, subtle at first, but deeply disturbing as time goes on.

I think Wilde knew, that inside each of us, there is a little bit of Dorian Gray.
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on 21 June 2013
A Picture of Dorian Grey is about evil influences of friends, about a culture of perpetual youth and about pursuing the needs of the body over those of the heart and head.
Through his artist friend, Basil's portrait of him, Dorian learns to appreciate beauty and makes a wish that he will remain forever young and beautiful. His wish is granted but he rejects Basil's friendship because he is mesmerised by Harry's wit. Harry is a cynical serial seducer who bows to convention but deceives at will. Dorian falls in love with actress Sybil but abandons her as soon as she responds to his advances. Sybil commits suicide. Using his eternal good looks, Dorian explores all kinds of rich sensual experiences and because he looks like a celebrity he gets away with it. `Conscience is cowardice,' Harry tells him and Dorian believes this, burying his sense of responsibility for Sybil's death.
Villains are supposed to look evil and have deformities. Wilde has created an utterly shallow antihero whose appearance protects him from blame. Dorian lives out a reckless life of pleasure seeking while his `soul', Basil's portrait, safely hidden in the nursery, accumulates wrinkles and faults.
In a modern setting he'd be a boy racer with a pimped up car or a gym fanatic with steroid-boosted muscles. Basil and Sybil's family come to grief and Dorian's past eventually catches up with him.
The scenes are dramatic and the cleverly worked plot is convincing. All the characters emulate Harry's Wildean paradoxical epigrams. But Wilde narrowly avoids a confrontation between Dorian and his enemies. The final scene is played out in the nursery with the destruction of the portrait.
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on 1 February 2012
I had previously seen the 1945 classic starring Hurd Hadfield and George Sands which many people would consider to be the definitive version. However, art is all about interpretation and I thoroughly enjoyed this version Starring Ben Barnes and Cloin Firth. It had many clever twists in the tale which you'll fully understand if you read the footnotes within the novel. The "ghost" of Basil Hallwood is seen at the end of the film which Wilde alluded to as Banquos ghost in Shakespeares Macbeth. Also Lord Henry Wotton comes over as a far nastier character than shown in the 1945 version. Hence it is his daughter that Dorian falls in love with rather than Basil Hallwood's.

Wotton pays for his evil and cynical views on how life should be lived without regard to that inner beauty the the religious call the soul. Dorian Gray, played by Ben Barnes, is quite pleased, initially, that his portrait takes the blight for his own sins but eventually becomes deeply troubled by his own plight and even visits a priest's confessional to try and atone. Unfortunately for him the redemption he asks for never comes. His final good deed is too late.

This version is indeed very different from the 1945 version but I enjoyed the excellent special effects and skillful portrayal by the leading actors. A good buy for the money.
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on 22 July 2016
well written and a classic tail, watched the film years ago and enjoyed it so was curious if the book was as interesting, gotten around a quarter way through so far and very much enjoying the story.

Finished the book and I must admit I enjoyed it more than the film I don't like adding snippets from books on my reviews as it might spoil it for other reader'
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on 23 July 2012
The first half of this book was honestly like nothing i've ever read, which is saying quite a lot. I felt myself completely immersed in the speculation on life from Henry Wotton, whilst Dorian became a wondrous character for which these ideas to be brought to life. I must admit, despite this, around page 100 there was around 10 pages of pure description, with an endless stream of ancient names, that for me stopped the novel and my enjoyment dead. Despite this perhaps ruining the following twenty pages, I soon fell sway to Wilde's beautiful writing once more, and overall the novel was superb. I would definitely recommend to any fan of classic literature or someone wanting to try something a little more 'up-market'.
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on 4 June 2012
In my opinion, Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray" is a truly wonderful book, well worth reading- several times if possible. Although some readers, critics, and reviewers here have claimed sections to be tedious and irrelevant, I cannot disagree more. The novel reflects Dorian Gray's psyche, and as such the possibly felt tedious feeling felt upon reading some of the middle sections (which make up no more than an eighth of the novel at most!) are far outweighed by the fact that these feelings are presented as being likewise felt by Dorian Gray. Surely it is a good thing- nay, a truly remarkable thing, that Oscar Wilde has written the novel such that the very emotions and feelings felt while reading the novel are in fact first hand for some sections, rather than vicarious or second-hand (which is the case for all emotions in most other novels!).
At any rate, even if the perhaps-overly-lengthy descriptions towards the middle of the novel, and witty dialogues are seen as negative points (which I strongly disagree with! In my opinion they can only be seen as positive points), then they are far outweighed by the rest of the novel. After all, only about a fifth of the novel is composed of sections where the descriptions become quite lengthy, and the dialogues perhaps unrealistic in their wit.
As far as I was concerned, every moment reading it was a pleasure. As I drew towards the end of the novel, I could already feel myself wanting to read it again, and although I could not call the novel gripping- as an action-novel would be described- I think the very beauty and poetry of the words used by Wilde make the pages turn far better than any amount of action could.

For buying the novel, I would strongly suggest the cloth-bound, 2008, penguin edition hard-cover, with introduction and notes by Robert Mighall (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Picture-Dorian-Gray-Clothbound-Classics/dp/0141442468/ref=tmm_hrd_title_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1338842947&sr=1-1). There are three reasons for this:
Firstly, it is the revised edition from 1891, and therefore has the additional chapters.
Secondly, the notes contain the original 1890 wordings for more important sections, as well as highlighting some of the double meanings, and explaining some of the more obscure points.
Thirdly, it's a quite nice edition in my opinion... Its the one I used for my A2 English Literature coursework, and was absolutely perfect for it. The notes proved to be invaluable, and the novel took quite a rough beating (several times it was thrown about in my rugby kit bag, or pressed in all directions amongst my other books etcetera, and... I'm quite happy to say it is still in near-perfect condition. Beyond a slight fading of the pattern on the front of the cover (which did, quite funnily, coat my rugby kit in glitter), it could almost be new. Considering most books aren't put through quite so much punishment, I think under normal circumstances, this edition would last a life-time of reading and still be in relatively good condition by the end of it.
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on 18 February 2018
Brilliant book. Rather strange but that's what attracted me to it in the first place. Arrived early and in amazing condition too. I'm very happy with this purchase.
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on 22 April 2011
Oscar Wilde masterfully delves into the darker themes of corruption of the soul, sin, hedonism, and the materialistic nature of society. The book quickly hooked me into the plot as I began to experience the development of Dorian Gray and really connect with his character. The themes start slowly by creeping up on you and soon engulf the plot. There was only one moment in the whole book where I felt that things were getting boring.

Oscar Wilde evokes a strong emotional response in his novel; I felt truly horrified, melancholy and jubilant at times in the book. The plot flows effortlessly with Wilde's lovely discussion of metaphysical themes, often through charming dialogue. I was mesmerised by the strong charisma of some of the characters. At times the book appears to be more poetry than prose, but for me that is credit to how wonderfully written this novel is.

Overall a GREAT read. Definitely one of my favourite books and excellent food for thought.
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on 18 February 2018
Definitely worth a read as one of the classics. Fascinating book!
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