The Picture of Dorian Gray (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics: ...
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The Picture of Dorian Gray (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview

The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.


Oscar Wilde brings his enormous gifts for astute social observation and sparkling prose to The Picture of Dorian Gray, his dreamlike story of a young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty. This dandy, who remains forever unchanged—petulant, hedonistic, vain, and amoral—while a painting of him ages and grows increasingly hideous with the years, has been horrifying, enchanting, obsessing, even corrupting readers for more than a hundred years.

Taking the reader in and out of London drawing rooms, to the heights of aestheticism, and to the depths of decadence, The Picture of Dorian Gray is not only a melodrama about moral corruption. Laced with bon mots and vivid depictions of upper-class refinement, it is also a fascinating look at the milieu of Wilde’s fin-de-siècle world and a manifesto of the creed “Art for Art’s Sake.”

The ever-quotable Wilde, who once delighted London with his scintillating plays, scandalized readers with this, his only novel. Upon publication, Dorian was condemned as dangerous, poisonous, stupid, vulgar, and immoral, and Wilde as a “driveling pedant.” The novel, in fact, was used against Wilde at his much-publicized trials for “gross indecency,” which led to his imprisonment and exile on the European continent. Even so, The Picture of Dorian Gray firmly established Wilde as one of the great voices of the Aesthetic movement, and endures as a classic that is as timeless as its hero.

Camille Cauti, Ph.D., is an editor and literary critic who lives in New York City. She is a specialist in the Catholic conversion trend among members of the avant-garde in London in the 1890s.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593080259
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 6/1/2003
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 20,931
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Camille Cauti, Ph.D., is an editor and literary critic who lives in New York City. She is a specialist in the Catholic conversion trend among members of the avant-garde in London in the 1890s.

Biography

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was born on October 16, 1854, to an intellectually prominent Dublin family. His father, Sir William Wilde, was a renowned physician who was knighted for his work as medical adviser to the 1841 and 1851 Irish censuses; his mother, Lady Jane Francesca Elgee, was a poet and journalist. Wilde showed himself to be an exceptional student. While at the Royal School in Enniskillen, he took First Prize in Classics. He continued his studies at Trinity College, Dublin, on scholarship, where he won high honors, including the Demyship Scholarship to Magdalen College, Oxford.

At Oxford, Wilde engaged in self-discovery, through both intellectual and personal pursuits. He fell under the influence of the aesthetic philosophy of Walter Pater, a tutor and author who inspired Wilde to create art for the sake of art alone. It was during these years that Wilde developed a reputation as an eccentric and a foppish dresser who always had a flower in his lapel. Wilde won his first recognition as a writer when the university awarded him the Newdigate Prize for his poem "Ravenna."

Wilde went from Oxford to London, where he published his first volume of verse, Poems, in 1881. From 1882 to 1884, he toured the United States, Ireland, and England, giving a series of lectures on Aestheticism. In America, between speaking engagements, he met some of the great literary minds of the day, including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Walt Whitman. His first play, Vera, was staged in New York but did poorly. After his marriage to Constance Lloyd in 1884 and the birth of his two sons, Wilde began to make his way into London's theatrical, literary, and homosexual scenes. He published Intentions, a collection of dialogues on aesthetic philosophy, in 1891, the year he met Lord Alfred Douglas, who became his lover and his ultimate downfall. Wilde soon produced several successful plays, including Lady Windermere's Fan (1892) and A Woman of No Importance (1893). Wilde's popularity was short-lived, however. In 1894, during the concurrent runs of his plays An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest, he became the subject of a homosexual scandal that led him to withdraw all theater engagements and declare bankruptcy. Urged by many to flee the country rather than face a trial in which he would surely be found guilty, Wilde chose instead to remain in England. Arrested in 1895 and found guilty of "homosexual offenses," Wilde was sentenced to two years hard labor and began serving time in Wandsworth prison. He was later transferred to the detention center in Reading Gaol, where he composed De Profundis, a dramatic monologue written as a letter to Lord Alfred Douglas that was published in 1905. Upon his release, Wilde retreated to the Continent, where he lived out the rest of his life under a pseudonym. He published his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol, in 1898 while living in exile.

During his lifetime, Wilde was most often the center of controversy. The Picture of Dorian Gray, which was serialized in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine in 1890 and published in book form the next year, is considered to be Wilde's most personal work. Scrutinized by critics who questioned its morality, the novel portrays the author's internal battles and arrives at the disturbing possibility that "ugliness is the only reality." Oscar Wilde died penniless, of cerebral meningitis, in Paris on November 30, 1900. He is buried in Paris's Père Lachaise Cemetery.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Good To Know

To make ends meet, Wilde edited the popular ladies' periodical Woman's Day from 1887 to 1889.

When in exile on the Continent, Wilde was forced to live under the alias Sebastian Melmoth.

It is rumored that Wilde's last written words were found in his journal, left behind in the Left Bank flophouse where he died: "My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has got to go."

Wilde is buried in the Paris cemetery of Père Lachaise; there, he keeps company with other famous artists, including Jim Morrison and Edith Piaf.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 16, 1854
    2. Place of Birth:
      Dublin, Ireland
    1. Date of Death:
      November 30, 1900
    2. Place of Death:
      Paris, France

Read an Excerpt

From Camille Cauti's Introduction to The Picture of Dorian Gray

Perhaps the most salient episode of Wilde's life involved his three infamous court trials in spring 1895. They captivated the London press, much of which was only too happy to see Wilde, of whom it had long been jealously suspicious, debased and finally punished for his alleged crimes and for daring to live outside Victorian social convention. The first trial, in early April 1895, involved the author's libel suit against his lover Douglas's father, the Marquess of Queensbury (before the trials, he was most famous for formulating the Queensbury rules of boxing). Angry over Wilde's alleged influence upon his son, Queensbury accused Wilde in a note of being a "posing somdomite" (sic). Queensbury's defense attorney even presented The Picture of Dorian Gray as an immoral, perverted book and as one of the fifteen pleas for justification of his client's claim (although the justice at Wilde's next trial chose not to rule Dorian Gray as evidence of Wilde's crimes). Thus the novel took on yet another role: involuntary accomplice to Wilde's accuser. The libel suit was not resolved in Wilde's favor, and during the proceedings Queensbury's defense provided enough potential evidence of homosexuality to have Wilde tried under the Criminal Law Amendment Act. Friends and associates urged Wilde to flee the country, as other homosexuals on the verge of being outed had done, but whether from stubbornness of his position or in denial of his vulnerability, he remained in London and was arrested on April 5, 1895.

After two trials on charges of "committing acts of gross indecency with male persons," Wilde ultimately was found guilty and sentenced to the maximum penalty of two years in prison with hard labor. He gave eloquent testimony on the stand to the legitimacy of, as he called it, "the love that dare not speak its name," which in large part drives The Picture of Dorian Gray. Among many other definitions, Wilde declared it "that deep spiritual affection that is as pure as it is perfect. It dictates and pervades great works of art like those of Shakespeare and Michaelangelo. . . . It is the noblest form of affection." His words were rewarded, really too late, with spontaneous courtroom applause. Yet the press exulted in Wilde's demise: "The aesthetic cult," the News of the World proclaimed, "in its nasty form, is over."

The details of Wilde's final five years, spent in prison and in lonely exile, are tragic. The prison labor, which at first primarily involved operating a treadmill for the equivalent of a daily 6,000-foot ascent, physically broke Wilde. His creditors and Queensbury had forced a bankruptcy sale of his property, and his valuable, carefully collected possessions were sold and disbursed. His wife, who had sought a divorce, died in 1898. He would never again see his sons. From prison, Wilde composed, in the form of a letter to Douglas, his apologia De Profundis (posthumously published in 1905), whose Latin title means "Out of the Depths," and which takes its name and religious tenor from Psalm 130, which reads, in part: "If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared." The probing, deeply religious nature of this last work still did not bring about Wilde's Catholic conversion, however. (Douglas would convert in 1911.) Unlike John Gray, Wilde could not bring himself to use religion as a refuge from his earthly problems. Wilde's conversion instead took place within the last two days of his life, when desperate friends, the Catholic Robbie Ross among them, who had long thought Wilde insincere when he mentioned his desire to convert, brought in a local priest to gauge Wilde's assent to the conversion and to administer Last Rites.

Appropriately, Wilde's last act was an assent to a final ritual-in this case, one that symbolically sealed the senses that had dictated his life-long self-creation. Wilde's only novel, over the years many things to many people, continues to serve as a symbol of its era. After experiencing it, a reader may want nothing more than to override questions of genre and influence, when The Picture of Dorian Gray itself tells us what it has been: "the type of what the age is searching for, and what it is afraid it has found."

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 723 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 724 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 20, 2009

    SPECTACULAR NOVEL, but buy a different edition

    "The Picture of Dorian Gray" is a fantastic book, mixing excellent wit with poignant commentary on society, intertwined around a spiritual story about a man who sold his soul unwittingly, but unrepentantly. Make sure you read this book, BUT ... buy a different edition.

    The editor of this book, Cauti, included many intelligent and spectacular notes throughout the book, but he includes asterisks and cross-marks throughout the book so that you will check his footnotes. These appear on 90% of the pages, and they ruin the flow of Wilde's prose because the reader is compelled to stop reading, check the footnote, and return to their previous position. The rhythm of the writing is totaly disrupted whenever this happens, and it is fair to say that this happens often. Often enough, in fact, that I recommend you buy another edition. Not this one.

    25 out of 28 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Decadent

    I knew relatively little going into this book...and what little I did know was from less than 100% accurate retellings such as in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or references from cheesy shows or horror flicks (I think perhaps there was a reference in Scooby Doo somewhere?). I had the basic gist...there's a guy, Dorian Gray, who has some magical painting that ages while he stays young and wonderful forever. Not much to go on, but I was still excited to read it. I was pleasantly surprised that the book had much more depth to it.

    I was a little torn on my overall feeling for the book. It took me a while to get into it and there were long passages that were drudgerous to push through. However, from a high level, this is one of the better books I've read this year...or even for numerous years. It had a plenitude of intriguing themes that left me thinking in between readings. It had a lot of humorous quips and paradigms as presented by Harry that I laughed out loud at. It had surprising twists and tension that left me curious as to the true outcome (as opposed to that from rip-off stories). There are a couple of spots that could be considered "climax"...the confrontation with the artist is the main turning point in the book. Personally, I would have rather seen more pages after that turning point than before it. I think the last 1/3 of the book was far more engaging. At the same time, the buildup was necessary to promote the intended mood.

    Overall, this is a book I definitely recommend, with the caveat that you should be aware that it does slow down at points. Just push through those. The overall work is worthy of a couple of slow zones. In fact, perhaps those slow zones serve the purpose of allowing more pondering.

    13 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2011

    One of the most well written books you'll ever read

    Believe it or not, I had not heard of The Picture of Dorian Gray until the movie League of Extraordinaty Gentleman came out. I know, crazy right. No, I havn't lived under a rock my whole life. I don't know how i missed it. Well, after seeing the movie I rented every movie of The Picture of Dorian Gray I could find and fell in love with the story. Then I read the book... and fell in love with the writing.

    Reading the first chapter is like being swathed in wonderful writing from head too toe. I felt completely surrounded by it. You can almost feel the warmth of the garden, hear the sounds of the birds and dragonflies, and smell the beauty of the flowers as you sit and listen to this conversation between Harry and Basil. The writing is an immersive experince. And Basil's description of his first encounter with Dorian and the feelings that Dorian stirs in him, sound almost... romantic. At the least there's definately a bromance going on. And we also see the first crack of Dorian's facade in this chapter, which Basil's decsription of how Dorian sometiems seems purposefully cruel to him. Isn't it interesting, the first chapter ends with Harry demanding to meet Dorian and dragging Basil into the house and we haven't even met Dorian yet ourselves.

    As I read the book it occured to me that it could also have been titled the Influence of Lord Henry Wotten, for Harry's (as he's called by his friends) opinions and influence are as central to the story as Dorian Gray himself and more of a factor than the portrait itself. Hardly a scene goes by that Harry, whether present or not, is not quoted as an authority. It was as if he was the potter and Dorian was the clay. Harry was fully aware of his influence, and Dorian... Dorian seemed to be racing from one sensation to another like a spoiled child.

    This was by far one of the best written, most interesting stories I have read. I will read it over and over and would recommend it to everyone.

    STATS:
    Nook Pages: 240
    Genere: Classic
    Re-readability: Very High

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2010

    Better if you know about the author

    An interesting story rife with paradoxical witticisms and artistic commentary. Something falls short in the plot structure for me to withold labeling it as a great work of literature though I did very much enjoy it

    This book becomes infinitely more interesting as one researches Oscar Wilde and what the characters and art meant to him and the historical context in which they were illustrated.
    I would definitely recommend trying to find at least a brief account of Wilde's life and reading before delving into this book, it will pay dividends in the end and leave you less nonplussed about the surfeit of now untimely allusions.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2009

    Absolutely wonderful book

    I had to read this book for class. Sadly if it wasn't required I wouldn't have read it because I cannot stand classics. When I read this book and loved it I was astonished. Before reading it though I do recommend looking into the time period in which it was published so that you understand why it was such a controversial book. It was absolutely genius though.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2008

    Really pretty good - probably deserves a 4.5

    I read this book many months ago, and as time has passed, it only grows upon me more. Though I will admit some parts are dry... other parts are fraught with action and suspense. The ending'and book itself' shocked me, and I am still thinking about it now, 7 months later. If you want a 'thriller', a book that is plot-driven and never drones, read another book. But if you want a complex, horrifying, intriguing work based on characters and self-conflict, then definitely I highly recommend Dorian Gray

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2011

    Very Bad

    This is a very poorly copied version of a great book and to my knowledge the only free version available. You are better off just buying a cheap copy of the ebook.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2011

    Very good book

    First classic i've ever read and it was amazing. It was a unique and interesting change from most books i read.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2012

    DO not get.

    Horrible book scans that don't include the whole book do not get.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2012

    Typos galore

    Typos galore

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2011

    Amazing!

    I honestly loved the book, couldn't stop reading. I truely fell in love with this book and its characters. Would most deffinately recomend it to everyone, if you enjoy mystery and scandelous happenings.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 16, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Insightful on the essentials of life...

    Reading the synopsis of this novel, you would expect it to be a fantastical tale of magic and suspense. This is absolutely untrue. The novel delves into the nooks and crannies of the human soul. It dwells upon the subjects of right and wrong, heaven and hell, and vanity and evil. Every page is quotable and in every line, a debate can be found. Excellent writing. Excellent skill. The ending is abrupt, but also brilliant.

    *On a scale of 1-10 of reading difficulty, this book is a 4 or 5. Not hard to understand at all. Go for it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 14, 2011

    Invest your time

    The Picture of Dorian Gray is an interesting exploration of human weaknesses. Kind of creepy!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 6, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    One of my favorite books.

    I's an amazing book, but hard to read mostly because i'm not familiar with the words used in the book. but when I read it again, I believe Oscar Wilde IS A GENIUS!!!!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 25, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    be careful what you wish for...

    This book contains 5 stories, all fascinating! The Picture of Dorian Gray is a gripping tale about the evils of being superficial. It was intriguing to see how the portrait changed to reflect the heart and soul of Dorian. Dorian was able to remain young and beautiful while his sins were reflected on canvas for the whole world to see. Dorian locks the portrait away to try to hide his shame from the world which is a very human impulse! I wonder, if it hadn't all been to much for him to bear, would he have been immortal? Could he truly have stayed young forever? Dorian must never have heard the old adage, be careful what you wish for because it may come true!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2013

    Great Book

    This is an amazing tale of how flesly desires can corrpput. Amazing classic!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 7, 2011

    The Picture Of Dorian Gray Review

    Dorian Gray is a classic novel written by Irish author Oscar Wilde. It is a very unique book that is a classic due to its excellent plot, colorful characters, and dramatic conclusion, which is also an amazing combination of drama and a touch of horror. The book takes place in Victorian London and its main characters are Dorian and Lord Henry, two very wealthy men, and also a painter named Basil who later goes on to draw that infamous portrait. In a way the characters are a bit cliché, but they all have quite a bit of depth, Dorian in particular. The story is mainly based around Dorian and Henry discussing the best way to live their lives, while Basil comes in to talk every now and then. Lord Henry always seemed to be a bad influence on Dorian as they both grew up to be rich, fat, narcissistic pigs.
    Later on in the book, Basil made a picture of Dorian when he was around 17 years old, at the height of his late youth. He claimed it to be his best work although Dorian never permitted him to display it at a gallery. After Basil painted it, Dorian cried out as to why the painting could stay young but he would not. He then later went on to rant about wishing to have eternal youth. Afterwards, Dorian spent the rest of his days living his life in a terrible fashion while something peculiar seemed to happen to the painting. In the beginning I stated that some characters were cliché, but Oscar Wilde was only displaying the sad truth about many Victorian Lords. Many could be very greedy and self-centered (although not to the extent of Dorian obviously.) The Picture Of Dorian Gray was a marvelous book of the 19TH Century, and readers can still enjoy this wonderful book today.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    My most highlighted book!

    I absolutely LOVE this book!!! Very quotable and extremely spellbinding! I highly recommend it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 8, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    actually, horrible story

    I realized I never read this book, only knowing the legend through pop-culture. It was different than I expected, Widle's writing style is atrocious; no one in this novel sits down, they all throw themselves upon the furniture, Every Single Time. Its a ridiculous piece of prose, not all that engaging. The pop-culture idea of Dorian is much more interesting than the genuine article.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2014

    Fantastic

    Not for the dim of wit

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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