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Dramatic,
Interesting,
Brilliant

5 reviews

The Picture of Dorian Gray (Dover Thrift Editions)
by Oscar Wilde

Published: 2012-03-05
Kindle Edition : 175 pages
2 members reading this now
31 clubs reading this now
4 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 5 of 5 members

In this celebrated work, his only novel, Wilde forged a devastating portrait of the effects of evil and debauchery on a young aesthete in late-19th-century England. Combining elements of the Gothic horror novel and decadent French fiction, the book centers on a striking premise: As ...

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Introduction

In this celebrated work, his only novel, Wilde forged a devastating portrait of the effects of evil and debauchery on a young aesthete in late-19th-century England. Combining elements of the Gothic horror novel and decadent French fiction, the book centers on a striking premise: As Dorian Gray sinks into a life of crime and gross sensuality, his body retains perfect youth and vigor while his recently painted portrait grows day by day into a hideous record of evil, which he must keep hidden from the world. For over a century, this mesmerizing tale of horror and suspense has enjoyed wide popularity. It ranks as one of Wilde's most important creations and among the classic achievements of its kind.

Editorial 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."

Excerpt

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Discussion Questions

Suggested by Members

As a book club we discussed how in modern times we still place a huge amount of importance on how we look and appear to others.
by bookview (see profile) 06/22/16

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
by Karenbrowntx (see profile) 11/19/16

 
  "The picture of Dorian Gray"by bookview (see profile) 06/22/16

The novel gives a good insight into the daily lives of upper class gentry of England in the late 1800's.
The description of the country side, the scents and shades of the leaves and flowers
... (read more)

 
by jmcclellan (see profile) 04/01/16

 
by AgnesGros (see profile) 11/27/14

 
  "A Picture Paints a Thousand Words"by nbaker (see profile) 12/31/13

The Picture of Dorian Gray is an old classic story and yet still speaks today of the ugliness and unattractiveness that becomes a person when morals and ethics are set aside for want of pleasure. The... (read more)

 
  "Intriguing Morality Tale"by lisjanemon (see profile) 04/09/13

Enjoyable read but there were many british and french terms that brought me out of the story having to look at the footnotes provided in the book. Was a little distracting. It's a classic nonetheless.... (read more)

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