This book exceeded all expectations. When I was halfway through, I was skeptical, because it was clearly just a vain boy with a love interest who's suicide was like so many tragic love stories told before. But Dorian Gray, his character development was the most dynamic I've ever read through. First off, Oscar Wilde's philosophies, mainly portrayed by Lord Henry's character and countered by Dorian Gray, were thought provoking and wonderful. There were times when he went of on tangents that were unnecessary, but for the most part they were very enjoyable, and worthy of underlining. I underlined so many quotable lines, that I feel like i'll be referring back to this book forever.I really, very much enjoyed that Dorian would challenge Lord Henry's logic. It made the dialogue so much more interesting, and gave the reader a chance to gather their own thoughts.The thing I don't quite understand is why people don't pay more attention to the book Lord Henry gave him. Clearly that's what started Dorian's psychotic break, the portrait was only the mirror to his actions that followed. The chapter involving the book was exquisite, but I would have liked to hear even more about it. SO. Every murder was done so that Dorian could make them excusable. I thought that was brilliant, from Sybil to Basil to James. He made it seem almost logical, murder for their 'crimes' was perfectly acceptable. Ahhh, Dorian. His obsession of Lord Henry made me question why he didn't murder Henry before accidentally offing himself. Henry's 'crime' was the worst of all, in my opinion! The damn book was what made Dorian question everything, and the questioning was what inevitably ruined the lives of others as well as himself. The fact that everything connected in the novel, and came full circle, is the reason I enjoyed this so thoroughly. It's a classic that had me glued to the pages, which doesn't happen too often. Oscar Wilde is an interesting character of his own accord, and I feel privileged to have read the novel that mirrors his thoughts.Carmo Santos
Tendo já visto o filme baseado neste livro parti para a leitura sem grande curiosidade pela história. O que não estava à espera, era desta escrita de Oscar Wilde. Algumas das descrições paisagísticas poderiam ser comparadas a uma pintura: uma paisagem exótica e exuberante de corres garridas. Descreve de forma elaborada e minuciosa, mas nem por isso aborrecida. A narrativa é viciante, sendo por vezes teatral e melodramática, outras poética, outras simplesmente hilariante recorrendo ao uso de adjetivos de forma algo exagerada, mas reforçando assim a intensidade da escrita. É sarcástico, mordaz e irónico. Apesar da qualidade da escrita, achei os capítulos muito longos e por vezes arrastou-se demasiado tempo no mesmo assunto.Embora Dorian Gray seja a personagem principal, quem me cativou foi o Lord Henry. Um hedonista convicto, cínico e dono de uma superioridade moral e social que raia a arrogância. Despreza tudo o que é feio e doloroso, não admite contrariedades, enaltece a beleza, a alegria e os prazeres. Na sua opinião não se aprende nada com os erros- pelo contrário- estes são a própria aceção do "joie de vivre". As suas tiradas afiadas, são deliciosas e é ele, que deslumbrado pela beleza e juventude de Gray, faz dele um objeto de adoração e estudo, moldando-o a seu belo prazer, como se de uma obra de arte se tratasse. Dorian Gray começou por ser um rapazinho ingénuo, completamente fascinado pelos modos requintados de Lord Henry, bebendo cada uma das suas palavras, sequioso dos seus ensinamentos, pratica tão afincadamente que acaba por superar o mestre. Afunda-se num mundo de superficialidade e egoísmo, numa busca insaciável de novas experiencias, prazeres desconhecidos e sórdidos pecados, de forma exagerada e narcisista. Um fatídico desejo fizera dele um monstro e lançara a sua vida no abismo. Quando se apercebe da horrível realidade já não consegue parar e decide ignorar, afinal, como o próprio diz: "se não falarmos de uma coisa é como se nunca tivesse acontecido". É o exemplo típico do: "be careful what you wish for". Foi uma vítima ou um vilão? Teve o final merecido, pura justiça poética.Basil Hallward, era o melhor dos três. Amava e idolatrava Dorian, fez dele o seu modelo de eleição e passou para o quadro toda a sua essência. Sem o saber foi cúmplice de uma prece macabra. Quando toma conhecimento da penosa realidade é o único que tenta desviar Dorian da vida dupla e pecaminosa. Pagou muito caro pelas boas intenções.É um livro que começa com algum humor, evolui para uma fantasia e termina em terror. Pelo meio, uma feroz critica ao puritanismo da época vitoriana. OW deixou neste livro temas de sobra para reflexão: a eterna luta entre o bem e o mal, os valores morais e a forma como por vezes são distorcidos , a valorização do fútil e superficial e o penoso caminho que vai do crime ao arrependimento e consequente punição.A publicação deste livro esteve envolta em polémica, afinal, não era costume um escritor expor nos seus livros personagens marcadamente homossexuais. Caiu como uma bomba e pesou contra si aquando do seu julgamento, tendo sido condenado e preso durante dois anos por atentado ao pudor.Mike (the Paladin)
I have been meaning to read this book for...maybe 40 or 50 years, closer to 40 I suppose. It's one of those classics that you always mean to get to. I just never had.Like many people (I suppose) my knowledge of Oscar Wilde is fairly sketchy and mostly surface. It's the kind of thing you get from quotes and literary sketches. This book made me a little more curious about the famous rebel.Most people, even those who haven't read the novel will be aware of the background story here. Dorian Gray in the "glory" of youth and being an exceptionally attractive young man anyway looks on his own visage in a portrait painted by his "friend" Basil Hallward. Having been influenced (it is supposed) by his new acquaintance Lord Henry Wotton, Dorian dreads the loss of such youth and beauty and "wishes" the portrait could suffer the ravages of time and life while sparing him such...he says he'd go so far as to give his soul for this. This book is a product of it's time, maybe a little more florid in some ways than we'd find now. Wilde takes his time introducing us to the characters and laying the ground work before he introduces the fantastic and horrific elements of the story which creep up on us a bit at a time. Sir Henry is usually taken as the background villain of the piece, Mephistopheles to Dorian's Faust... but to an extent I think that's a bit misleading and I don't think Wilde saw it that way.This is an excellent work and I think most will find it enjoyable. It is not only a well written and deeply characterized book...it carries an understated and pervasive type of horror that might just require the reader to think.5 stars.(view spoiler)[The description of Dorian as "innocent" and "good" when he's young and when his portrait is painted is to an extent, only the description Dorian accepts about himself. Even when we first meet Dorian he is quite willing to manipulate Basil. Henry who is thought of as the Villain of the piece, is basically a fool. He knows not nearly so much as he thinks he does in spite of his self assurance. I think that Wilde showed us the flaws in Henry's ideas...just as he showed us the shallowness of Dorian. Dorian is constantly making vows to reform, decisions "to be better". Wilde "probably" didn't think much of this sort of thing as he pokes fun at it throughout his life. Dorian is a bit more serious in his failures as he graduates from manipulation, to destruction of life, to murder and so on. It's interesting to follow Dorian as he bemoans how these tragedies "effect him".So..my take... Lord Henry is a fool, Dorian is shallow and evil.By the way, I love the sort of "abrupt" ending with no cometary at all...just the final scene. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>Shayantani Das
Oh my God! What was that? Lord Henry Wotton, are you by any chance trying to brainwash me? Oscar Wilde, what have you done? I started reading this book one week back, resolving on a twenty to thirty pages a day daily quota. Somewhere along the middle of the week I started ignoring Dorian Gray for my favorite jerk Sherlock Holmes. Then last night, I again plucked up the courage and to my complete surprise found myself unable to stop reading. Not something you expect from a Victorian novel. The story is absolutely brilliant. My goodness, how can anyone not like Oscar Wilde? Another entry in my all time favorite list!Brendan
Moral degradation follows moisturiser use.Werner
Wilde deliberately cultivated the public persona of a cynical, amoral hedonist, much like the character of Henry Wotton here; but there are indications in some of his writings that his real attitude towards faith and virtue was more approving than he let on (he eventually converted, very late in life, to Roman Catholicism). This novel could serve as exhibit A for that premise: the deformity and ugliness that comes to Dorian's portrait is not primarily caused by physical changes, but by spiritual and moral devolution --and if no other symbolism were furnished, the picture's ultimate hideousness expresses the author's judgment upon the changes in his protagonist; for a person as worshipful of beauty as Wilde, there could be no greater condemnation than depicting something as ugly. (Ever mindful of his image, in his preface he disclaims any moral message --but allows that a fiction writer is concerned with the moral life of his characters, which in practice is a distinction without much difference!)Whether or not this is supernatural fiction depends on how the reader explains (Wilde doesn't) the granting of Dorian's wish; in the movie version, he utters it before the image of a pagan Egyptian god, whom Henry avers is fully capable of granting it, but this is absent in the book. For Wilde's purpose, whether the cause is supernatural, psychic, or some other natural force is immaterial --the crux of the story is the result, not the cause, and what that result has to tell us about how Dorian lives his life.Stylistically, this book is written with typical Victorian diction; and it is not, for the most part, a novel of action --its horror results mostly from moral revulsion, not from violence (though there is some of that) or from scary apparitions. If those features would bother or bore you (they didn't me ;-) ), this wouldn't be the book for you. But if you appreciate the kind of fiction that forces you to think about what's important in life, and how and why it should be lived, Wilde's masterpiece will do exactly that.Clare
Oscar Wilde's only novel! I thoroughly enjoyed Wilde's ability to play with words, to toss them about and see where they land. There is a particular joy in finding a word used slightly out of sync to it's meaning, a stretching if you will. Wilde's thick, image driven, morally questionable (to most, not me) string of words delight the eye and impassion the mind. His dialogues demonstrate his future word play in plays. His ability to create synthesis between character types is magnificient, he allows his characters to feed off one another in subtle and not so subtle ways. It is really poignant when you think of the turmoil of Wilde's own life and the idea of image driving the modern world. Dorian is captivated by the idea of the picture living on unbesmirched and clean while he must suffer the marking of time and experience. Wilde shows that unlinking these things, unhooking the soul from the body can be a terrible thing to behold. While Dorian's outer image stays idyllically static, his inner image as displayed by the canvas twists and turns foul with each act of questionable intent. Wilde himself became victim when his inner demons were publicly displayed, as would us all. While not considered highly questionable now, then it was devistating. Wilde seemed to fortell that the display of this innerself, one that you are ashamed (or taught to be ashamed of really) even to the closest few can shatter life, alter all that you know. While we are all destined to do things that inflict pain on others, even if unintentionally, it alters our spirit. Nothing in life is static even if it seems so. Life is mutable and ever changing and to wish it to be otherwise is to doom oneself to eventual distatisfaction.Benjamin Duffy
Such, such a strange and interesting book. Yet I can't give it more than three stars.The easiest way to look at The Picture of Dorian Gray, to me, is to break it into three acts.For the first few chapters, I was completely captivated. The three main characters (Basil, Henry, and Dorian) are laid out quickly, succinctly, and beautifully (and all three are shining literary archetypes), the MacGuffin is introduced (though it doesn't commence Guffination until well into Act II), and the exposition is lush and gorgeous and decadent. In addition, the dialogue is witty, pithy, scathing, and eminently quotable: literally 75% of the conversation in the book is pure epigrams. It eventually gets a little tiresome, but in the first third of the book, you feel as though you're sitting in a room with the coolest kids in the world - especially Henry, whose pronouncements in favor of amoral pursuit of pleasure must have been shocking to Victorian-era readers, at least so bluntly put.This section of the book is also double triple gay. It's the gayest thing that ever gayed it up in Gaytown. This was the first Oscar Wilde I'd read, and while I was certainly aware that he himself was homosexual, I was surprised nonetheless. I found myself repeatedly muttering out loud, as I read the first third of the book: Wow, this is all really rather gay...HOLY COW these dudes are gay...god dammit, get a room, guys...YES I get that he's beautiful...OMG you dudes are so gay...not that there's anything WRONG with that...REALLY? His lush red lips again? Are these guys gonna start doin' it?... Yes, I made quite a scene, reading my Kindle on the commuter train in downtown Salt Lake City and mumbling over my gay little book.Suffice it to say, amid the handsome men throwing themselves onto couches in louche, careless manner, crushing daisies in their graceful hands, etc., the homoerotic subtext was so overwhelming that I was actually slightly surprised that it never jumped from subtext to just plain text.Nonetheless, if the book had continued in the vein of Act I, it would have been a fantastic read. The problem, however, was Act II. Near as I can tell, Act II's purpose is to convey, as quickly as possible (and the book is a fairly short one) that Dorian Gray experiences every sensual pleasure that the world has to offer, and becomes more and more debauched and decadent, all the while showing no outward signs of moral decay or physical aging. Honestly, the whole thing feels rushed. There are large stretches in the middle of the book where Wilde rattles off interminable lists of things that Dorian experiences: first he's into beautiful smells; then it's exotic music; then it's precious gemstones; and then luxurious fabrics, and on and on. In each case, the author lists multiple examples, with descriptors, and it all flies by in a blur. It's tedious. What shoulda coulda come off like a montage scene in an 80s movie comes off instead like a particularly dry chapter from the Book of Numbers or perhaps like Bubba reciting the 1001 culinary uses for shrimp in Forrest Gump. At any rate, the middle sections of the book are a drag. You can get what Wilde is going for, but it lacks the poignancy and impact of the first act.Act III picks up the pace again, and surprisingly (to this reader at least), becomes a pretty standard late-19th-century morality play. For as much as the book is neck deep in Henry's amoral aphorisms and shockingly debauched philosophizing, the actual resolution of the story contradicts pretty much everything he preaches. The titular character suffers for, and regrets, his wanton ways, and he comes to a miserable end. The End.Worthwhile read, but fails to fulfill the promise of the first two or three chapters.Mon
19th century people do funny things. For example, the males characters are constantly picking out flowers for their 'buttonholes'. And not just any flower, but colour and specie specific orchid. Heavy floor length curtain was popular (think about it, they didn't have that many windows back then, so the interior would be pretty gloomy most of the time). Hot chocolate is consumed before coffee as breakfast (and not just for children). They also faint easily (maybe it's the chocolate feast). I'm also glad facebook status has now replaced speedy servants with preposterous amount of letter writing. And the government who wanted to hang this guy for writing a bad story? Really? How would you feel if they hang Dan Brown? I don't understand why people take this book so seriously. It's really fun, full of witty dialogues, philosophical insights and jack-ass comebacks. Yeah that's basically it, just really funny like a 30 Rock episode. It's probably lowbrow to compare one of the greatest literary work to TV, but meh, we should all chill like Dorian.Litchick (is stuck in the 19th century)
Operation Project Gutenberg (view spoiler)[Fuck My Life, my office upgraded software and now I can’t get to any other book related sites or apps so I have to subsist on re-reading classics when my computer is busy building code. Welp, might as well pen a series of reviews. (hide spoiler)]If you haven’t read this book, you should. It's hands down the most quotable novel I have ever read. In my paperback version of it you can barely discern the print through all the cramped notes I’ve stuffed into the margins and the blobs of yellow, pink and green highlighter that take up a majority of each page. What? I have a highlighting system, don’t judge me. For those of you who don’t know the scandal-ridden history of this work of art, allow me to enlighten you. When it was first printed in 1890 by a British monthly magazine, the editors there, without the knowledge of the author, sheared off a little over 500 words from it because they thought it was “indecent”. It wasn’t enough.Victorian England was still outraged over it. Reviewers called Wilde immoral and hedonistic, and The Picture of Dorian Gray homoerotic, unclean, effeminate and contaminating. Needless to say, the criticism got to the author. In response to it, the book was further edited, more passages were “toned down”, deleted or re-written and six chapters were added to bring more depth to the characters and their actions in attempt to assuage the readers’ ‘delicate sensibilities’. It wasn’t enough. Again.I won’t go further into the life of the author as his story is even grimmer than that of his only published novel. Instead I’ll say this; I hope to God that mankind has moved forward enough that his tale will never be repeated. We should encourage artists and their genius, not destroy them. For how can we make any progress if we repress our innovators? So you see my five stars and here’s where you’re probably thinking “But what about the misogyny? Aren’t you a feminist? How can you give this book five stars when it includes quotes like this:"I am afraid that women appreciate cruelty, downright cruelty, more than anything else. They have wonderfully primitive instincts. We have emancipated them, but they remain slaves looking for their masters, all the same. They love being dominated."I’ve read a lot of other reviews for this book and some people seem pretty irritated by passages like the above. I understand the irritation but let it be with the character and not the book or the author. I have Oscar Wilde’s memoirs in my library. I also have two biographies about him and have done a lot of additional research (if you couldn’t already tell). Wilde did not appear to be a misogynist. In fact, at one point he was an editor of a women’s magazine and personally edited, published and lauded several articles on feminism and women’s suffrage. The character of Lord Henry, however, is a misogynist, and I’m not arguing that. But there is brilliance in making him so disgusted by women and even though I don’t particularly enjoy it, I applaud how it was done.Here’s a great article describing Wilde’s motivations way better than I ever could.Suffice to say, this book is one of my favorites. I can’t properly review it. I just…can’t. Everything has already been said, so why add my opinion to the masses when it would only be an outpouring of fangirling? And just in case you’re curious, a few houses have recently published the unedited version of this book. I suggest you read both. In closing, I leave you with some of my favorite quotes:“…there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”“There is a fatality about all physical and intellectual distinction, the sort of fatality that seems to dog through history the faltering steps of kings.”"Experience is merely the name men gave to their mistakes.""Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.""Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you! Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always searching for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing.""What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?""All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.""I can stand brute force, but brute reason is quite unbearable. There is something unfair about it's use. It is hitting below the intellect.""Every effect that one produces gives one an enemy. To be popular one must be a mediocrity."["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>Nurkastelia A.
What more can be said about The Picture of Dorian Gray than the fact it is a marvelous book? Although this is the only novel Oscar Wilde had ever written, I think by far this is one of the finest and most enchanting classic novels there are. I was completely in awe after reading it the first time and still too in awe to even start a review now.The Picture of Dorian Gray begins with an unusual look of a man –from another man’s eyes (Basil Hallward). I’ve never thought homosexual issues could be let out so openly into the world like how Oscar Wilde let it out. The fighting over Dorian between Basil and Lord Henry, Basil’s marks about Gray, and even the words of the story which are edited and put into the endnotes. All were shockingly wonderful. Also related to the endnotes, we can see that Wilde was a man of much knowledge. He retracted and inserted other people’s intellectual works in the book. What’s more is that I think the ingenious mind of Oscar Wilde is really reflected on the character of Lord Henry though he pictured Lord Henry as someone as empty as a barrel. If a song once said, “if a picture paints a thousand words then why can’t I paint you? The words could never show the you I’ve come to know,” this really does not count the book along. Why? Because as we can read, Dorian Gray’s picture, literally, gives out millions and millions of words about him. The first day Basil paints it, the first day Gray brings it home, the first day people take their glances at it; it speaks to them as if it has a mouth telling them how great of a creature Dorian Gray is. At that time, there is no single person that would not call him ‘Prince charming’ since his self-portrait was so beautifully enchanting.As time goes by, the first-innocent mind of Gray is inflected by Lord Henry’s views towards life –towards beauty. He said that beauty is the only thing that matters, and Gray eventually agrees with it and realizes that the portrait will live forever, and retain its beauty while he himself is left to age. This is the turning point of the story, the part when we realize that wishes are stronger than life. So Dorian Gray wishes to trade his soul for everlasting youth, and to always retain his beauty, just like the portrait. Of course, when there’s an action, there will always be a reaction. Every time Dorian Gray commits a sin, the picture miraculously adjusts itself with the evil side of Dorian Gray.As much as other things in the story are intriguing, the most fascinating part is how Wilde used ‘beauty’ as something harmful. Something so corrupting that a person would kill another, another, and yet another human being, before finally Dorian Gray tries to kill his picture, his guilt –his conscience, resulting in killing himself. Astonishingly enough, when Dorian dies, the painting, as if released from all the sins it bears, returns back to the old self just like when it was first shown to Dorian; painfully beautiful.One thing that captures my mind is that Oscar Wilde had thoughts ahead of his time, and not afraid to show it either. In real life, he was charged with gross indecency as early as 1895. His works make fun of the hypocrisy of the society, damn the moralities. In short, he was leading quite a controversial life.Nevertheless, however controversial he is, he obviously concerned deeply about life itself. That is why this particular novel offers some kind of a wake-up call to the readers…narcissist readers, that is. So if you are one, and want to be saved not by lectures…take a walk on the Wilde side, let this fantasy story take your breath away, and may morality save you from constant debauchery.Erik
Plot summary: Dorian Gray is a beautiful, wholesome young man. He begins with two friends, one of whom paints the titular picture, while the other is a modern, cosmopolitan lord, who puts the fear of losing his youth into Dorian. When it turns out that the painting grants Dorian an eternal youth (which one should differentiate from eternal life - Dorian's physical appearance is never burdened by the deeds which he commits nor the simple passage of time), then Dorian struggles against losing all sense of morality. Stuff happens. The end.It's difficult to know what to write about The Picture of Dorian Gray. This book is Oscar Wilde's only novel, with good reason. The Picture of Dorian Gray is like a play written in novel form - no one (I hope) would seriously contest that Oscar Wilde was an important and influential playwright with a penchant for witty, sharp dialogue. That is, his plays are a rare example of century old writing that's still enjoyable to read today. This skill of his is in full force in Dorian Gray - dialogue is by far the primary mover of characterization, plot, and conflict. And it is quite amusing. On the other hand, his descriptions, when he bothers to describe at all, tend to be overly flowery (the first sentence of the book is like ten lines long) or pretentious.I say pretentious because, by far, the most annoying part of this book is the 10+ pages of needlessly detailed description of all the various arts, skills, and knowledge in which Dorian dabbles once he realizes his immortality / immorality. Some may argue that this huge list was needed in order to accurately develop and depict Dorian's corruption. Hogwash. I've seen a fall from grace portrayed in a single line - Oscar Wilde's prose here is entirely indulgent and comes across as someone saying, "see here, see here, look at how clever and learned I am!"My second complaint is that much of Dorian's corruption happens off the pages. I recall a recent review for the HP7, pt. 1, movie which stated, "Much of the action happens disturbingly off screen." This trait was cited as a positive, and I wanted to be like, Why? Why is it a good thing that the most compelling elements of a story are summarized or hinted at, rather than shown? Likewise, there are a great number of allusions to the many evil deeds of Dorian. But they are rarely shown. The result is that when at last Dorian was actually shown committing an evil deed, I was not convinced. This was not a visceral experience.Perhaps these complaints can be ignored because The Picture of Dorian Gray is invariably an intellectual's book. It's not a story in the sense that I define stories - it's a philosophical journey. It's a hypothetical... what if: Is the dark side inevitable? Is a human innocent at birth and corrupt at death? It is the planting of a seed of doubt in your own mind; as you read through it, you can't help but wonder... how would I behave, if I could get away with everything? It is in this role, I would suggest, that The Picture of Dorian Gray is historically considered a must-read.I do not concur. Is this a book you should read? Undoubtedly. Is it one you must read? Sorry, no.Edit: I retroactively added a star because, despite my initial doubts about the book, I've been using the ideas contained within quite often. I think it explores the connection of physical beauty & goodness in a way that has become obfuscated by modern society's hypocritical and inane mantra: 'beauty is on the inside.'Manny
"My dear Jordan!" said Lord Rayner expansively, as the butler discreetly closed the door behind his young visitor. "Really, it is too good to see you again! And what brings you to Cambridge?""Oh, this and that," said the lad, flinging himself casually onto a priceless Ikea divan. "By the way, has there been some mistake in the casting? I thought I was female?""Well, since we're doing Dorian Gray, I hoped you would have no objection to reversing your gender," said his host. "And besides, is there anything quite as female as an attractive young man?""How could one disagree?" murmured the lad, as a becoming blush suffused his ivory cheek. "So, aren't you glad I persuaded you to read it?"The rest of this review is in my book What Pooh Might Have Said to Dante and Other Futile SpeculationsApatt
“He was always late on principle, his principle being that punctuality is the thief of time.”"We praise the banker that we may overdraw our account, and find good qualities in the highwayman in the hope that he may spare our pockets. I mean everything that I have said. I have the greatest contempt for optimism. As for a spoiled life, no life is spoiled but one whose growth is arrested. If you want to mar a nature, you have merely to reform it." Words to live by. LOL! This is surely the most quotable book I have ever read. I only chose the above quotes for a good giggle, there are many more pithy or profound ones in this novel. Besides being the most quotable book it is also one of the most misrepresented by pop culture. The movie adaptations tend to focus on the horror aspect of the book as if Wilde was a precursor to Lovecraft or something. The Picture of Dorian Gray is a more cerebral and allegorical than Hollywood would have you believe.As with most classics I picked an audiobook version and where possible I opt for the free Librivox version over the commercial Audible one. I only require that the books are reasonably well read; this happens to be one of the good ones which I can recommend with a couple of minor reservations (more on that later). What I did not realize though is that Oscar Wilde wrote two editions of this book. The original was first published in 1890, and the considerably longer (and less overtly “gay”) 1891 edition followed in response to less than enthusiastic critics’ reviews. Any way, this Librivox version is of the original edition consisting of a mere 13 chapters instead of 20.From the first few pages I was bowled over by the barrage of witticisms from Lord Henry Wotton who seems to have outrageous views on just about everything, and he can talk the hind legs off a donkey. Every “willful paradox” that comes out of his mouth is a gem. The first chapter alone is worth the price of the book (it’s free in Guttenberg e-book format any way). Oscar Wilde is famous for his wit and this book provides ample evidence, he did not so much write as orchestrated the language to create a work of art. The initial hilarity at the beginning of the book soon gives way to a much darker story and eventually culminates in a horrifying climax.The central characters, like everything else in this book, are very well written. The artist Basil Hallward is decent, honest and kind (not to mention probably gay), the eponymous Dorian starts off as a naïve young gentleman and fairly quickly morphs into an infamous cad. As for the amazing Lord Henry, unfortunately for Dorian he is the sort of man who likes to talk people into committing all kinds of debauchery but never does it himself, as poor Basil points out early in the book.I first read this book many years ago I remember liking the first few chapters very well but somehow when I first signed up to Goodreads I rated it at 3 stars as I was adding books to my bookshelf for the first time. For life of me I could not remember what the problem was. Well, I do now that I have just reread it. In spite of being extremely witty and hilarious at times this is not an entirely easy read; not because of the descent in tone into grimness, I don’t mind that at all. As it turned out the issue is only one chapter. If not for this very odd chapter the novel is actually quite easy to read.I am talking about the lengthy Chapter 9 (1890 edition) which is Chapter 11 in the second edition (1891). This chapter takes place after Dorian has decided to adopt a hedonistic life style and reinvents himself as a very bad boy (but oh so elegant and well coiffed) under the wicked influence of Lord Henry. Almost the entire chapter is tangential to the story and consists of Wilde’s rumination on jewelry, embroidery, art and beauty etc. I dozed off a bit during this chapter (50 minutes narration, I am not sure what the page count is, 30 at least). I think Wilde should have placed it as an appendix, in fact after finishing the book I went back to read this particular chapter just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. There is a little plot in there somewhere but you have to stay awake the entire time not to miss it.This audiobook version I just reviewed is read very nicely by John Gonzalez. My only reservations are that the book is set in England and all the characters are English while Mr. Gonzalez is an American, still, better a book well read in American accent than badly read by an Englishman. My other reservation is that there is a little bit of hiss in the background.In any case this is a fantastic book and I will have to read the second edition before too long.________________________Notes: Free audiobook editions:Link to the 1890 edition read by John Gonzalez.Link to the 1891 edition read by Bob Neufeld.For a hilariously unconventional review I recommend taking a gander at this Thug Notes review on Youtube."My man Wilde had to rewrite the book coz them publishers weren't chillin' on the bro on bro action!".(Paraphrased from memory)Jason
I am not sure whether this novel is so perfect I should wish Wilde had written more, or whether this novel is so perfect I should be grateful it stands alone.Wilde was an aesthete? This is a work of aestheticism? Hardly. The Picture of Dorian Gray is a gripping and sincere morality tale, told with beauty, and about beauty, but ultimately driven by the quasi-Gothic nightmare that rests beneath all that is beautiful in the book and all that is said about the pursuit of beauty by its primary characters.Wilde's writing is beautiful. Anything of beauty within the mise en scène is captured by Wilde and depicted with beauty. Dorian Gray is beauty in human form. His friend Basil Hallward, a painter, sees Dorian's beauty and is driven to portray it on canvas. Per Dorian's wish, he will remain beautiful, and Basil's portrait will bear the ravages of his soul. Basil's homoerotic fascination with Dorian, and its expression in his portrait of Dorian, will unwittingly lead to tragedy. Through Basil, Dorian befriends Lord Henry Wotton, who impresses upon Dorian the ideal of beauty. And, beyond that, the joy of beauty. Of seeking out that which pleases the senses. Of hedonism. A means of existence Dorian takes at its purest. Hedonism regardless the price. Personal pleasure above all else. Eventually the cost of such a life, and the sins Dorian commits in the name of it, come grossly to light, in what is in many ways the simplest of tales of right and wrong.Why is the novel so good if it's, arguably, so simple? Several reasons. Dorian's wish is not a foreign concept to men of any age. Lord Wotton's philosophy is captivating and, in many ways, persuasive. Beauty pleases man. All man has by way of understanding the world is his senses. All that triggers them and satisfies them (or more) is the best man can take from the world. Wilde knows. When (and when not) feeding the reader a compelling philosophy of beauty, he feeds the reader via the beauty of his prose. Quite literally, Wilde's writing pleases the senses. Multiple senses, in fact. The eye in its words. But more than the eye, as Wilde's eye, and his treatment of the world within the novel, reaches beyond it.That the beauty of the writing is on par with the views on aesthetics put forth in the novel as a counterbalance to its moral substance makes this a novel only Wilde could have written. There may be better prose in Anglo-American fiction (or not). No such prose, however, is as striking and of such calculated elegance and allure as Wilde's. The novel's abounding beauty provides the force that animates its theme of false beauty. That abounding beauty is Wilde's particular gift, and the heart of one of the best novels in the Anglo-American canon.