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Since acquiring my beloved Kindle, I have rediscovered the joys of reading, which I adored as a child, but lost as family life and responsibilities slowly swamped my free time. Although I spent a great deal of my childhood lost in the fantasy of novels, classics were reserved for dry and dusty English literature classes at school where the uninspiring teachers did their very best to put us off reading for the rest of our lives.
Now in my 50's I have decided to re-educate myself in some of the classic literature that I should have enjoyed if it had been taught correctly. So many classics are available for the Kindle, completely free of charge or for mere pennies, and reading them as an adult has been eye opening. Novels that I expected to be tough going and tedious have actually been riveting and enjoyable. I have just finished one such... The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde was a poet, playwright, journalist and author of the late Victorian Period. Born in 1854, in Dublin, he eventually gained both fame and notoriety by the 1890's, and became a glittering member of London society, known for his cynical wit and flamboyant mode of dress. The picture of Dorian Gray was his first and only novel, written in 1890. During the next few years, Wilde went on to write many highly successful plays including Lady Windermere's Fan , An Ideal Husband , and The Importance of Being Earnest . Famously homosexual, Wilde was eventually jailed for 2 years hard labour for Gross Indecency. He never returned to London society and died destitute in Paris in 1900 after completing his last work The Ballad of Reading Gaol.
Publishing the book
Oscar Wilde's original 13 chapter version of "The Picture of Dorian Gray" was published, in a heavily edited form by Lippincott's Monthly Magazine. In 1891 Wilde reworked and expanded the book from 13 chapters to 20, adding a scathing preface, attacking those who criticised his work, and had it published as a stand alone novel despite public opposition which claimed it breached laws on moral decency. The book is now found in both the 13 chapter and 20 chapter version.
Dorian Gray is a young, beautiful, rich, spoilt and susceptible young man, looking for a direction and meaning in the life of indolence to which he has been born. As the novel opens, he has become the muse and obsession of Basil Hallward, a famous London artist, who is painting a full length portrait of him which he hopes will be his masterpiece.
Into this peaceful scene comes Basil's long time friend, the cynical, sardonic and charismatic Lord Henry Wotton. He too is entranced by the beauty of this young man and determines to befriend him as a protogee. He enchants the eager student with his cynical views on living a purely aesthetic and hedonistic life, with new sensations and experiences being the only and ultimate aim. Dorian is astounded by these views and fascinated by the man, and becomes Henry's constant companion.
When the finished portrait is revealed, Basil has captured the bloom and youth of the young man, perfect in every detail, and Dorian, in a pique of anger and jealousy, wishes that the portrait should age, while he himself should stay young and beautiful.
Later when Dorian's first experience of love, for the beautiful and innocent Sybill Vane goes disastrously wrong, the guilt of his behaviour towards her, shows as lines of cruelty on the portrait, while his own face is unchanged. Dorian begins to believe that life cannot touch him, and under the instigation of a morally corrupt French novel ( although not named in the book, Oscar Wilde later confessed at his trial that this book was "A Rebours" [Against Nature] by Joris-Karl Huysmans) and the influence and incitement of his new best friend Henry, he determines to live the hedonistic life of self gratification Henry can only theorise about.
He seeks out pleasure and new sensations wherever he can find them, committing sins and immoral acts with impunity, leaving in his wake disgraced women and corrupted young men as he cuts a swathe through his rich and privileged life, untouched by the excessive indulgence in either face or conscience. Meanwhile the portrait, safely locked away in an upstairs room away from prying eyes, shows all the guilt, debauchery, cruelty and aging that is absent from Dorian's face.
But as London society begins to reject him, and he is pushed into committing the ultimate crime, can he really escape all conscience and guilty feelings? Is this life of pleasure all he thought it would be?
Would I recommend this book?
I would highly recommend reading this to those who like books that are thought provoking and contain challenging ideas. Although not always an easy read, especially when Lord Henry is spouting his theories, or when Dorian is reading his attitude-changing French novel, it is certainly worth the effort. The characters are interesting and well rounded, the dialogue is believable, and the story, mostly, moves at a pace.
The language, although of course Victorian, is not overly flowery or excluding. Some parts, for instance pages and pages devoted to the various hobbies and collections with which Dorian indulged himself, I found myself merely skimming, but the story itself is riveting and exciting, and Oscar Wilde's writing style is pure class.
Although, like everyone, I knew the general storyline before I read the book, I had never actually watched any films through to the end, so I was completely engrossed, wondering what would become of this fallen character and the end of the book, when it came was abrupt and shocking!
The portrait of Dorian Grey is Oscar Wilde's only novel, he is better known for his work as a play write, producing work such as 'The Important of Being Earnest'. Wilde is a Victorian writer and is better known for being homosexual in a time when sodomy was illegal. Wilde was actually incarcarated at one point because of his sexuality. However, Wilde was not easily put down by others, he belived in the living life and was very eccentric and flamboyant. With one of his famous quotes being, 'There is only one thing worse than people talking about you and that is them not talking about you!'
With this in mind The Picture of Dorian Grey presents us with three characters: Basil- the most level headed of the three characters, he is the artist who paints Dorian and introduces him to Lord Wooton. Lord Wooton- the very frivalous and brash character, he introduces Dorian to the more glamourous side of life thus leading him astray. And lastly but most important there is Doraian, the attractrive narracist.
Without giving away the ending the plot is as follows:
Basil is an artist who paints a portrait of a young man he knows called Dorian Grey. Dorian Grey is extremely beautiful but at this point he is not aware of it. When Basil shows the painting to Lord Wooton he is amazed by it because it encapsulates youth and innocence. Basil does not want to show the image because he feels he has 'put to much of himself into the image'. Wooton meets Dorian which Basil is uncomfortable with as he realises how influencing he is. Wooton is drawn to Dorian because he is young, rich and attractive ansd through Dorian lives a completly immoral lifestyle. The more Dorian because influenced by Wooton the more he takes on his hedonistic lifestyle. The one thing about Dorian is, whatever he does or no matter how many years pass he still reamins as beautiful and youthful as the day the portait was made. Dorain is extremely vain and it is revealed that he had made a supernatural pact for the painting to take on all of his years and for his beautiful face to remain the sam. So it is revealed that this sordid painitng is hidden away becoming more grotesque with each sin Dorian commits. However eventually Dorain has to take the responsability of his lifestlye.
This book would appeal to students, people who enjoy reading books of the gothic or victorian genre and Wilde fans. It would also appeal to a wider audience because Dorain Gret is the first rock n roll star in literature, he is a true headonist. Its literaly sex, opium and opera.
In my opinion Wilde was making a satirical point about the aristocracy how they all had too much money and would sit around having tea parties and gossiping much like we see in Alice and Wonderland's Mad Hatter's Tea Party. He was also exploring themes of age and innocence and how people may feel there life is boring once they reach a certain age, such as Lord Wotton who says :
One of the great secrets of life. Most people die of a sort of creeping common sense and discover too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
All in all a good read, it short as well which suits the style and prevents it from being boring.
As an exquisitely handsome young socialite, Dorian Gray appears to have the world at his feet. He is adored by everyone he meets, and is blessed to have wealth, good looks and an endearing nature on his side. Flitting between parties and events he becomes friends with talented painter Basil Hallward, who in turn introduces him to Lord Henry Wotton.
With the title giving the game away a little, Dorian sits for Basil who paints an extraordinary portriat of him which captures his breathtaking appearance and seems to personify everything that is attractive about the young and naive Dorian. The portrait is painted early on in the book, and is a central element to it, but more about that a little later...
While Basil is portrayed as a fairly decent character, it is fair to say he is infatuated with our main character, believing him to be picture perfect in every way. Lord Henry, while equally fascinated with Dorian, is a harder, more selfish character who speaks his mind and seeks to educate Dorian and mould his character by introducing him to alternative, and often controversial viewpoints.
As an impressionable and somewhat innocent young man, Dorian is eager to learn from the confident Lord Henry and soaks up the barage of compliments from both himself and Basil, who tell him he is the most beautiful creature in the world. As time goes on Dorian becomes obsessed with the notion of achieving eternal youth and beauty, and becomes more and more petrified of his looks and subsequent popularity fading. So he decides to sell his soul in return for good look forever more.
Like I said earlier the portrait is central to Dorian's rapid decline into a Victorian London underworld, where he is involved in many unspeakable sins, most of which are never mentioned, merely hinted at. A whole spiral of events sees our main character become a very ugly, vain and mean-spirited man on the inside, yet his beauty never fades and so he manages to lead a double life, attending high society events and sleazy establishments at the same time. But the portrait itself is undergoing changes and seems to be taking on horrific features mirroring the horror in Dorian's heart. It seems the lifelike portrait is testament to the true nature of Dorian's transformation from innocent boy to hardened man but will anyone else realise the mystical properties of the portrait and the secrets it masks?
This book really is a triumph and when I decided to read more classic literature recently this was the first book that appealed to me. As the first and only full length novel by Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray is a masterpiece and showcases exceptional storytelling, giviing way to strong characters, and fantastic descriptive ability.
With themes of lust, debauchery, corruption and vanity and hinting at all manner of unspeakable things for the time, its release caused uproar and its content shocked many people. Living in the world we do today, I have read a lot worse and can't say I was shocked by it, however I did find it very thought provoking. Watching Dorian unravel on the inside yet remain calm and collected to the outside world was interesting and fascinating. There are macabre elements to this book which is probably why it is calssified as gothic horror. While it is not horrific by modern standards, it is a very dark tale, which draws the eager reader in to its story.
There are no likeable main characters in this book, although Basil is the most likeable at a push. While he is kind-hearted and harmless, he is also a bit pathetic and his admiration of Dorian is irritating, making him less endearing as a result. Lord Henry, meanwhile, is detestable, and as a selfish, outspoken and condescending character he was not possible to warm to. He is rude and obnoxious and seems to take what he wants from life, regardless of other peoples feelings. Dorian is of course affable at the beginning, but his vanity and subsequent decline, makes him an increasingly sinister man indeed.
The climax of this book is excellent but I cannot say much without giving it all away. It had me on the edge of my seat and was unexpected, but perhaps inevitable with hindsight. It is also very, very clever.
The whole story is, in fact, very clever. Wilde has remarkable talent for linking certain themes together, and reflecting Lord Henry's influence and views into the very heart of the character of Dorian. His narrative ability paints a great picture of Victorian society and it many layers, classes and prejudices. Yet it is still very readable and relevent today, despite me usually being a fan of chick lit!
With Dorian's collapse of character, we are reminded how often we judge people by their outward appearance, regardless of the evil, insanity or cruelty cowering within. We are all too happy to assume good looks equal a good nature, and of course this is certainly not the case with Dorian Gray. We are also reminded of the limits society has put in place, and the barriers which are not to be crossed.
This really is a wonderful novel to get stuck in to and it has stood the test of time, making it one of the greatest books of our time and a great introduction to the genius of Oscar Wilde.
As the first classic that I read for my own pleasure, I can quite honestly say that this was the best starting point I could have chosen. Oscar Wilde's ability at writing is almost overwhemling here, and was able to drag me in, to the point where I really didn't want to put this book down.
The flow of the book is what makes it perfect, and even though you can usually figure out for your self what is going to happen in the book, you find yourself more, and more drawn in to the events that are unfolding. The tale is incredibly moral, though can only say that Mr Wilde wrote this in such a way that you even want to take sides with the people you shouldn't take sides with.
I can only say that this is a fantastic read for anyone who wants to get into the classics, as it is easy, flows, and needs little explanations, unlike some of the other classics, so it pans out as a brilliant all rounder.
I am always wary of classics as often it depends on the authors choice of narrative that makes it either poignant and in some aspects modern or dreary and has little to do with the nature of society today. Thankfully this book is the former - written in such a way that it is easily understandable and the wry humour still manages to raise a smile.
Written by Oscar Wilde it is the only book he ever wrote - mores the pity. The plot revolves around the story of Dorian who enters London society a naive young man. He becomes friendly with a painter, Basil, who in turn introduces him to his friend Lord Henry. Under Henry's influence Dorian realises that his youth and beauty will soon fade and he will be like everybody else. He wishes hard that he never ages and a deal is struck that a painting that Basil has created will take the years of abuse and neglect instead.
Once this is done Dorian quickly slides into a world of debauchery, drug abuse and murder as he begins to break every taboo he can.
I wont ruin it for you but the novel created a stir back in the day and was universally panned for it's use of such repulsive themes. Having said that though it becomes all the more important in understanding the darker side of Victorian society as well as linking it to our times.
It's a very short book and you can finish it within a day, it is slightly different to the film as much of the book alludes to what he has done rather than out and out showing you what has happened. I suggest that both are read and watched and appreciated for what they are - a dark examinations of society.
Ahh, the Picture of Dorian Gray - this is a book which I read when I was far too young and which has haunted me ever since.
When I was child, my parents had stored a set of bound classics in my bedroom. One of them was entitled "Stories" and, when I couldn't sleep, I'd dip into it. It was made up mainly of short stories with happy endings but it also included the Picture of Dorian Gray. I still remember reading the story through at one sitting and hating it so much that I stuck it down one of the house boards so I'd never have to see it again! I've read it again as an adult and I can appreciate it but, in some ways, my basic reaction to it hasn't changed.
I think the plot of the book is well known. A beautiful, innocent young man just entering London society has his portrait painted. Through some mysterious power, from that point the young man's appearance never ages or changes. Instead, the portrait image of him changes in his place. He becomes progressively more dissolute and corrupt but his outward appearance never reflects this.
As I said above, I first read this book when I was very young. I know some people think of it as a 'heavy going classic' but I can honestly say its a very easy book to read so please don't be intimidated by it.
Its a book which is very clever and takes a somewhat cynical view of society. When I first read it, I had a very strong reaction to it; I think, mainly because it looks starkly at a character whose behaviour becomes irredeemable. There's one scene in the book where Dorian Grey tries to change the portrait's image of him by doing something selfless; however, his perceptions have gone so far astray that the "selfless" action is actually very harmful and, possibly on a subconscious level, selfish.
Its a dark story with no uplifting or happy ending and without any (as far as I'm concerned) likeable characters. I think that's why I've never really loved it but its also what makes the story so interesting. It really looks at the impact society can have on a person and on how outward appearance can affect how people are treated (an obvious point but dealt with in a clever and unique way). Its definitely a book worth reading.
The picture of Dorian Gray is a novel, and the only full length novel written by Oscar Wilde. It was first published in a magazine in 1890 but Wilde later revised the story, adding new chapters before it was published fully in 1891. The first addition caused a fair amount of scandal at the time due to the themes that run throughout the story.
Set in late Victorian London, the novel follows the life the main protagonist, Dorian Gray as he grows from being young and naive to being a man. Painter Basil Hallward becomes infatuated by Dorian's beauty and is in the process of painting his portrait. We first hear of Dorian as Basil tells his good friend Lord Henry Wotton all about him. Basil believes that Dorian's beauty has brought out something brilliant in him and his work, much like a muse, making the portrait his masterpiece. Later that day, Dorian arrives to sit for Basil and meets Lord Henry. Basil is determined to keep the two away from each other, knowing the effect that Lord Henry's life and character could have on Dorian.
Leading a quite sheltered life, Dorian is excited to meet Lord Henry who has such different views than any he has ever heard. Lord Henry believes that life revolves around beauty and fulfilling ones own senses. Dorian is quite modest and doesn't believe that he is really as beautiful as he is made out to be but quickly realises that one day he will grow old and not be as beautiful and free as he is at that very moment. In a moment of madness, Dorian wishes that Basil's painting would age instead of himself.
"How sad it is! I shall grow old, and horrible, and dreadful. But this picture will always remain young. It will never be older than this particular day of June . . . if it were only the other way! If it were I who was to be always young, and the picture that was to grow old!'
What Dorian doesn't know is that his wish has been granted. He begins to live life to the max, doing as he pleases but not realising what is happening. In the midst of trying to find himself, Dorian meets an actress, Sybil Vane, while watching her in a play. Soon, he finds himself going to watch her every night and believes that he is truly in love with her. He informs Basil and Lord Henry about this young, talented and beautiful actress and invites them to join him at the theatre to watch her. Dorian is left completely ashamed after Sybil's performance is terrible. She tells Dorian that her bad performance was because she finally knows what true love is but he is completely distraught and finishes things with her. Later, Dorian is informed that Sybil is dead and that is when he finally looks at his portrait. The portrait has now changed, showing signs of his sins and weaknesses which is extremely hard to believe at first. After destroying his one and only true love, Dorian takes his chance to do everything that he has ever wanted but as his life spirals downwards and rumours of his wild ways follow him wherever he goes, the portrait is still changing.
As I am starting an English degree in October, I thought it was about time that I started reading some of the classics to prepare myself. The first that I read was Wuthering Heights and I didn't enjoy it too much but I decided to make myself stick it out and pick something by a different author. I had wanted to see the recent film (2009) since I saw the trailers but I was determined to read the book first even though I didn't know much about it beforehand which is why this was the book I chose to read next.
As I have said, Dorian was very naïve at the beginning of this novel but it shocked me when I realised just how easily led he was. Dorian hangs on every word that Lord Henry says and would probably do anything that he recommended. Although he is young, he is quite intelligent and I would have thought that he had enough common sense to not just listen to one person. In such a short space of time, he goes from being quite unaware of himself to being completely vain and full of himself. I really couldn't sympathise with Dorian at all because to me, he was asking for everything that happened. He was so shallow and self centred that he completely ignored the one person who truly loved who he was to begin with.
I really enjoyed reading about such a mix of characters in a novel set in the Victorian era. Most people would have a stereotype in their heads at this point about what the wealthy were like at this time but Wilde had a whole array of different personalities and backgrounds, ranging from Dorian himself to Basil the artist and then to Sybil, the poor girl acting to make some money. Women during this time are portrayed as they would have been seen then and especially by Lord Henry. He describes women in two ways, they will either be quiet and dutiful wives or they are only good for illicit affairs which was not a good way to start Dorian's love life. Part of the reason for the criticism of this novel was due to the large part homoerotic qualities in both Dorian and Basil. This issue was one close to Wilde as are other aspects of his life shown throughout the story.
The novel is described as a gothic horror and rightly so. Considering that Dorian should have been the hero, he sinks to some awful depths and never resurfaces. The story throughout and dark and chilling but it also leaves a lot to the readers imagination. There is only a small amount learnt about Dorian's life and the troublesome things that he gets up to with only hints at his reputation from acquaintances. It is left to the reader to decide what his actions actually were and considering that the book that he vicariously lives his life through is never named, the options are endless.
The prevalent theme throughout is corruption and how the young and innocent are so easily led. Dorian's corruption begins as soon as the story does, with Basil constantly telling him how beautiful and amazing he is, building up to him being extremely vain. Lord Henry adds to this, showing his appreciation for Dorian's form but he is more open and willing when it comes to giving an opinion on how a life should be lived. Basil observes that Dorian is quickly changing, stating that something that was said "was so unlike Dorian to speak like that" and knows that Lord Henry was going to be a bad influence from the very start. Even though Dorian's personality changes, he never actually accepts that he isn't the same as he used to be. It is only when he first sees his portrait change that he knows he must alter his ways, even if that doesn't last for very long.
The opening of the story is so beautifully written that it captured me within a couple of pages and I just didn't want to put it down. Wilde's descriptions of the locations and especially Dorian are mesmerising, drawing you deep into the story, which made me feel like I was actually there at many points in the story.
"The studio was filled with the rich odour of roses, and when the light summer wind stirred amidst the trees of the garden, there came through the open door the heavy scent of the lilac, or the more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn."
Everything is so vivid and thoroughly described that it would be hard to not imagine myself sitting in Basil's studio or in Dorian's attic. My one criticism with this though is the fact that because the story is so magically written, it takes away from the mystery, suspense and darkness of the protagonist at times and made me think twice about it being put in the horror genre to begin with.
I was really glad that I decided to give another classic a go after the disappointment of Wuthering Heights. The picture of Dorian Gray is very easy to read and to understand from the very beginning. I think that there is something in the story that everyone will be able to relate to, even if it is only that we are all put under pressure from others at different times in our life, making us question what we believe is right and good. Now that I have read the book, I will watch the film sometime soon but I am not expecting it to be anywhere near as good. I bought my copy from Amazon for around £4.
The Picture of Dorian Gray is a timeless novel of extraordinary worth. Being the only novel that renowned writer Oscar Wilde produced, it becomes a significant novel in that respect too. I first read it for my A Level English Literature coursework, and I truly enjoyed every single page of it. The issues and themes that Wilde explores in this novel is vast, and he addresses them in such a way that really captures his audience.
The novel begins with the introduction of two key characters: Lord Henry Wotton and Basil Hallward, who are observing a picture that Basil has painted of a young extremely handsome man named Dorian Gray. Lord Henry has a strong desire to meet Dorian, but Basil is reluctant to introduce Lord Henry to him. However, he eventually concedes. Lord Henry immediately notices and appreciates Gray's beauty, and both are somewhat taken by each other, as Gray insists that Lord Henry stays while he poses for Basil to continue painting.
Gray takes a break in the garden, and Lord Henry approaches him, and begins voicing his appreciation of Dorian's beauty and youth. He frightens Gray with the thought of becoming "old and wrinkled and ugly", and suggests the worthlessness of it. He says "There is absolutely nothing in the world but youth!" When Basil has finished the painting, Gray expresses his wish for himself to be "always young, and the picture that was to grow old!", and says he would give his soul for that. Basil observes that it "was so unlike Dorian to speak like that", and this marks the beginning of the deterioration of Dorian's innocence, through the corrupting ways of Lord Henry, and as the novel progresses, we see this process develop significantly. However, Dorian Gray's appearance never alters. He apparently does not become old or less beautiful. It is his portrait that alters, and it becomes monstrous. This extraordinary phenomenon works in parallel motion with his diminishing personality, and we see how this portrait of his soul reminds the protagonist and the reader of this.
The Picture of Dorian Gray is a novel about the conformity and non-conformity about beings in Victorian society. Not all of the characters in the narrative mirrored typical men and women in the Victorian era. Wilde wrote the novel at a time of change (or finde siécle, which means 'the turn of the century'), and this is reflected through his method of bending the image of gender. Despite this, Wilde still manages to portray how women in particular were perceived in Victorian society, and the characteristics they possess are seen through some of the male characters in the novel as well. Dorian Gray and Basil Hallward, for instance, show homoerotic qualities, which reflect the author's own sexuality, and most likely his belief that man and woman should not have to behave in a set manner. This is a theme that can be explored to a great extent, and Wilde conveys his beliefs in the narrative superbly. The inclusion of character Sibyl Vane is sublime, and the storyline surrounding her is one of great depth, and one that again touches on the theme of gender.
The novel portrays the corruption of a man's mind through the words of another, and explores the wonders and the issues of 19th century society, in terms of romance, nature and art, and gender and class respectively.
Not only are there deep, highly significant literary aspects involved in this novel, but the enjoyment I received while reading this book was great. At times, as cliché as you like, I could not put this book down. The storyline is powerful and captivating, and I found myself attached the life of the character of Dorian Gray whilst reading the novel. This enchanting quality is one that helps the story to function, and as a reader, you will find your self mesmerized, from the beautifully romantic opening and the story that follows, to the extraordinary final scene.
Having recently been released as a motion picture, those who do not tend to read have an alternative option in indulging in the story of Dorian Gray. However, having read this book over and over, I would strongly recommend reading it. It is very accessible, especially for adults. So I strongly urge you to buy this penguin classic edition of The Picture of Dorian Gray for money well spent, and an enjoyable experience in reading this novel, which you will want to repeat again and again and again.
Had the newly produced film not of been brought to my attention I'm certain that I would not of bothered to seek the book out. I wasn't actually aware that it was a novel before hand until I watched something about it on television.
Initially I was surprised as to how small the plot line actually is. Dorian Gray is a young and attractive man. One who has been flattered and admired throughout his life. Friends with a lonely yet romantic man-Basil Hallward- he is encouraged to sit for countless portraits. Yet it is his introduction to Lord Henry Wotton that seems to be his downfall. Seeing Dorian as someone to watch and observe. Or in his words an interesting study.
Although the finished painting is truely magnificent it only creates despair in the young man. Fearing the fact that his handsome features will decline as the years go by. In a fly away comment about selling his soul to remain youthful looking whilst the portrait aged instead, it seems somehow that supernatural powers can exist.
Lord Henry seems to have a good deal of manipulation inside of him. Using certain phrases and comments towards Dorian has different actions. He encourages and persuades him often enough to do things which will stir his emotions . Words which have a great effect on Gray. Despite the fact that some of these are not entirely appropriate for a man in such high society. Especially considering the story is set in the 1800s. Where any scandal could ruin a man or womans reputation for ever. Their name tarnished which Dorian doesn't appear in the slightest to be bothered about.
As the years go by and his two friends begin to age it is a wonder as to why neither happen to mention Dorians lack of change. Drifting apart from Basil Hallward whilst remaining close to Henry is not ideal. Not when Lord Henry is often called wicked, even though it's being done in a teasing sense there is some obvious truth in the statements. With every wrong doing which Dorian commits his portrait grows more and more grotesque.
I cannot like Gray. His slight naivety irritates me as I don't understand how easily led he is. His intense vanity and low little he thinks of others fails to win any sympathy towards any short comings which will come his way.
In contrast to this, Lord Henry is a character I greatly approve of. Yes some of the seemingly wrong doings at that time were probably to do with his manipulative personality but you can't say that he made Dorian do anything he didn't want to do. We aren't actually made aware of a lot of the acts which are commited although it wouldn't take too much of an imagination to figure it out.
With all that in mind the ending was one that I was expecting. That doesn't mean it was a disappointment. With every chapter that went by my enjoyment of the story grew. In some novels you find that characters are given at least one or two moments of pleasant-ness however I have failed to see that in him. From the off I saw Dorian as self obsessed and my opinion failed to change throughout.
I haven't come across a 'classic' which is in this style before. Most have been based around romance, family scandal or orphaned children. Not the supernatural and selling of souls to the devil. On saying that it has been a pleasant surprise. I do intend at some point to watch the film and I can only hope that it brings across the same selfishness of Dorian and the slyness of Lord Henry himself.
You might find this in your library but it is also available on Amazon for £1.99 upwards depending on what style you want the book in. I'd recommend this to anybody who likes a bit of the unexplained in their books. It isn't much but it does the job. Something very easy to read and equally enjoyable.
I have just finished this book after years of feeling like it was one that I always should have read. I was not disappointed. Having studied The Importance of Being Earnest at College it was clear from Dorian Gray that Oscar Wilde had a very distinctive style and wit which is easy to read and understand.
Charting the life of Dorian Gray over about twenty years, this story tells the tale of how an innocent, young man is corrupted by his own vanity. He sells his soul for the price of eternal physical youth and beauty and the corruption and evil that he undertakes in his life is shown on his portrait.
Wilde demonstrates great care when setting the scene and also delves deeply into the lives of supporting characters, which adds a certain charm and depth. Towards the last few chapters I did find the story a bit predictable and it was very hard to feel any compassion for Dorian, so when he gets his comeuppance for living such a dreadful life it is hard for the reader to feel anything other than satisfaction. But overall this was an interesting read with colourful and engaging characters, although not people that I could easily relate to.
Oscar Wilde's only full length novel The Picture Of Dorian Gray is set in late Victorian London and tells the story of a beautiful young man who never ages. He is however hiding a terrible secret - hidden in an unused school room is a portrait painted by his friend Basil Hallward which bears the consequence of Dorian's sins and grows older and more hideous.
When Dorain first arrived in London as an innocent 20 year old Basil persuaded him to sit for the portrait. While at Basil's studio Dorain meets Lord Henry (Harry) Wotton who believes beauty and pleasure are the only things worth persuing and that youth is a person's most valuble asset. Influnced by Henry Dorian wished that the portrait would age and not him. Over the 18 year span of the novel Dorian experiments with all kinds of vices and ruins many lives along the way. He eventually murders Basil and is nearly killed by the brother of his former fiance. This experience prompts Dorian to reconsider his lifestyle and he resolves to change. Expecting to see this
reflected in the portrait he is enraged to find it unchanged and resolves to destroy what is left of his soul.
This is a very enjoyable book though quite dark and gothic in style- it is a little hard to get into at first as the langauge is very descriptive and it sometimes feels like nothing happens for a few pages but worth persevering with. It allows you to really get a feel for the era and the lifestyle of the upper classes.Dorian and Harry are exceptionally well written characters, Henry really being the embodiment of the Devil and Dorain a representation of Wilde himself.
A classic novel.
I don't generally enjoy reading books from this period, but this novel has since become one of my favourites. I found, like most late 18th century novels, that at the beginning it was difficult to engage with the story and become involved. I think the author spent too much time describing the setting and the scenery. However, once I was in full flow I could not put the book down. Wilde is able to describe the characters so wonderfully that at times you actually think you are there joining in the conversation. It is as if you and Dorian Gray have become great friends. I found that he was a very difficult character to figure out though, I was not sure whether I liked him or not. When Dorian Gray is with other people you see the wonderful side to him that they all see. But when he is alone, he has some peculiar sometimes menacing toughts which will make you think twice. The Picture of Dorian Gray is a classic and fully deserves to be. Even for those not fond of the literary era it is definately worth the read.
Very challenging to begin with, although I can't explain whether this was primarily due to Oscar Wilde's writing style or getting to grip with the gentry from Victorian times. The novel seems to span a period of about 20 years although there were some serious jumps in time as nothing seemed to take that long. It wasn't until Dorian met a character later in the novel and mentioned an incident from 18 years earlier that I realised the time frame.
A clever novel whereby we need to think about what we wish for as the grass is not always greener on the other side and we never think about the consequences of our desires. Dorian in facts dreams of what most people wish for - to remain young. He offers his soul to a beautiful portrait of himself in return for perpetual youth. This is fine to begin with and whilst his beauty does remain, the portrait takes on the images of wildness and slow dilapidation of his soul. He is involved in crime and death in pursuit of his passion, resulting in his eventual surrender.
A clever novel focusing on every narcissistic thoughts of the human race have. A good reflection on the `dandy' of the Victorian era and a lovely portrayal in general of life in London at this time. The blurb states that this novel caused outrage when first published, which I was aware of and can understand why. However, it also states that this novel marked the onset of his own fatal reputation (as a homosexual I would presume) and his eventual downfall - which I don't understand why. From a difficult beginning this book had me hooked from a quarter of the way in. I look forward to seeing this interpreted on stage when I see it in September.
It was with a little trepidation that I began to read 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' by Oscar Wilde. You see, I like to think of myself as a pretty intelligent human being and then the likes of Oscar Wilde and Stephen Fry come along and cause me to grin inanely while I pretend to know what they are talking about, when in actual fact my brain is just thinking 'I wonder if I could use chicken instead of lamb in Irish stew.'
So I began 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' assuming I would not understand any of it but safe in the knowledge that I could tick it off my 'must-read' list and pretend that I did understand it and it was just too boring and unenjoyable to discuss. But I was wrong. I genuinely and thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and what is more Ladies and Gentlemen, I did indeed understand it! Woohoo!!!!
It is difficult to summarise the plot without giving too much away. The crux of the book is what is discovered quite a way in and I want to avoid saying what that is because half the fun of a book is trying to guess what is coming early on. I will do my best and apologies if it is too brief an account and you have no idea what I am talking about. I would rather err on the side of caution and not ruin it for you.
As the title suggests, a portrait of the central character, Dorian Gray, runs central to the plot. The three main characters are introduced to the reader during the painting of this portrait. Dorian Gray is a young and naive man, full of expectation about the world. The painter, Basil Hallward, is a friendly man who takes a shine to Dorian Gray. He is fascinated by his youth and beauty and strives to capture this within the portrait. Finally, Lord Henry Wotton seems a more sinister character who wants to mould Dorian Gray in his own image. The naive Dorian Gray is grateful for the attention and seeing the life that Lord Henry leads, he wants some of it for himself and so is more than happy to adopt certain traits in order to achieve success.
The characterisation in this novel is outstanding. The three main characters are suitably polarised in personality that within a relatively short book, the contrasts between them accentuate their personal nuances.
The story follows the life of Dorian Gray as he loses his youthful charm and becomes a nasty protege of Lord Henry. Dorian Gray locks away the portrait of himself as a young man. We think that perhaps this is because he has become so vain that he does not want to be reminded of how beautiful he was in his youth. However, we see him become bitter and nasty inside, while maintaining a fresh-faced innocence on the outside, to which all who meet him are drawn. A classic tale of outer beauty hiding a decidedly unpretty soul.
The really clever part of the book revolves around the portrait, but I will not give any further details. It is just too good a concept to spoil. But believe me that it is clever and sinister and has a great moral to the tale.
My favourite part of the book is the ending, where so much is happening at once, I could feel my heart pounding. It really is an exciting read. Some critics class is with the traditional horror books but I would not go this far. It is an extremely dark book. I cannot overemphasise just how dark it is, but it is not horror in my opinion. That is not to say there are some horror elements. Perhaps I have grown up with too much blood and violence on the television to appreciate good traditional horror but in my opinion horror is meant to scare and horrify and this book did not horrify me. It did leave me wondering about the evils of human nature but a good book will always get you to think about it afterwards.
I guess just like the central character, you can never judge a book by its cover, or its author. This is a short, snappy, fascinating book that is unequalled in terms of bizarre story line. Do not be put off by the fact it is written by Oscar Wilde. It is not at all difficult to read. Give it a go. You might surprise yourself.
This is one of my favourite books of all time. By the time you have read the first chapter you think you can smell the flowers in Basil Hallwards garden the book is so beautifully written.
Basil who is a painter has fallen in love with his subject Dorian Grey. In Dorians final sitting Basils frind Lord Henry comes to visit and during the visit Lord Henry tells Dorian he should experience all there is in life after first pointing out how fleeting youth is. Dorian makes a wish whilst looking at the painting, if only the painting would grow old and he would be eternally young and his wish is granted.
You are from this point introduced to the darker side of human nature. After going out to the seedier side of town he meets the beautiful and pure Sybil Vane and when he sets a morak trap for her and she fails he breaks of the engagement. When he looks at the portrait the next day it has a more cruel look. He decides he has made a terrible mistake and will marry her but she has killed herself.
He then spends the next years of his life living a depraved, sinful existance and when he bumps into Basil after many years he shows him that the picture is has become disfigured, cruel and ugly after refecting the life that Dorian has lived - Basil tells him he must tell someone. Anxious that his secret is about to be exposed he kills Basil.
He encounters James, Sybils brother who has been searching for him since Sybils death knowing him only as Prince Charming but when he finally catches him he realises the young man cannot be who he is looking for. When James is killed in a freak accident a few days later Dorian vows to be good and realises to do this he must destroy the paining. He goes to the old schoolroom where it is hidden and stabs it with the same weapon he killed Basil.
Realising too late he is intrinsically linked to the portrait he to dies and when he is found the portrait is restored to its original beauty while the dead Dorian now shows the ugliness of the life he has chosen to live.
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.