The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray

by Oscar Wilde


$2.95 View All Available Formats & Editions


Oscar Wilde's story of a fashionable young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty is one of his most popular works. Written in Wilde's characteristically dazzling manner, full of stinging epigrams and shrewd observations, the tale of Dorian Gray's moral disintegration caused something of a scandal when it first appeared in 1890. Wilde was attacked for his decadence and corrupting influence, and a few years later the book and the aesthetic/moral dilemma it presented became issues in the trials occasioned by Wilde's homosexual liaisons, trials that resulted in his imprisonment. Of the book's value as autobiography, Wilde noted in a letter, "Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world thinks me: Dorian what I would like to be--in other ages, perhaps."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780460011983
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date: 09/15/1976
Pages: 186
Product dimensions: 20.00(w) x 20.00(h) x 20.00(d)

About the Author

Oscar Wilde (October 16, 1854 – November 30, 1900) was an Irish writer and poet, who became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s.

Date of Birth:

October 16, 1854

Date of Death:

November 30, 1900

Place of Birth:

Dublin, Ireland

Place of Death:

Paris, France


The Royal School in Enniskillen, Dublin, 1864; Trinity College, Dublin, 1871; Magdalen College, Oxford, England, 1874

Read an Excerpt

Dorian made no answer, but passed listlessly in front of his picture and turned towards it. When he saw it he drew back, and his cheeks flushed for a moment with pleasure. A look of joy came into his eyes, as if he had recognized himself for the first time. He stood there motionless and in wonder, dimly conscious that Hallward was speaking to him, but not catching the meaning of his words. The sense of his own beauty came on him like a revelation. He had never felt it before. Basil Hallwards's compliments has seemed to him to be merely the charming exaggerations of friendship. He had listened to them, laughed at them, forgotten them. They had not influenced his nature. Then had come Lord Henry Wotton with his strange panegyric on youth, his terrible warning of its brevity. That had stirred him at the time, and now, as he stood gazing at the shadow of his own loveliness, the full reality of the description flashed across him. Yes, there would be a day when his face would be wrinkled and wizen, his eyes dim and colourless, the grace of his figure broken and deformed. The scarlet would pass away from his lips, and the gold steal from his hair. The life that was to make his soul would mar his body. He would become dreadful, hideous, and uncouth.

As he thought of it, a sharp pang of pain struck though him like a knife, and made each delicate fibre of his nature quiver. His eyes deepened into amethyst, and across them came a mist of tears. He felt as is a hand of ice had been laid upon his heart.

'Don't you like it?' cried Hallward at last, stung a little by the lad's silence, not understanding what it meant.

'Of course he likes it,' said Lord Henry. 'Who wouldn't like it? It is one of the greatest things in modern art. I will give you anything you like to ask for it. I must have it.'

'It is not my property, Harry.'

'Whose property is it?'

'Dorian's, of course,' answered the painter.

'He's a very lucky fellow.'

'How sad it is!' murmured Dorian Gary, with his eyes still fixed upon his own portrait. 'How sad it is! I shall grow old, and horrible, and dreadful. It will never be older than this particular day of June...If it were only the other way!


Excerpted from "The Picture of Dorian Gray"
by .
Copyright © 2003 Oscar Wilde.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

The Picture of Dorian GrayAcknowledgements
Further Reading
A Note on the Text

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Appendix 1: Selected Contemporary Reviews of The Picture of Dorian Gray

Appendix 2: Introduction to the First Penguin Classics Edition, by Peter Ackroyd


What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Simon Prebble perfectly achieves Lord Henry's 'low, languid voice' and sparkling conversation, while avidly expressing the other characters' more torrid emotions." —-AudioFile

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

The Picture of Dorian Gray 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 345 reviews.
Lark_LaVoix More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite books of ALL time. I've read it over & over. Oscar Wilde was an amazing author & master of witty sarcasm. He has a thought-provoking view on life & society.

My copy is riddled with highlighted quotes that I think perfectly sum up the quirks of human behavior. This book is a thriller, social commentary, philosophical discussion, & vocabulary lesson all in one! He can ramble at some points, but read through it because what these ramblings reveal are quite insightful. Don't be intimidated, though. It's short compared to a lot of other classics with similarly "difficult" language. Grab a dictionary, open up your mind...& you'll get a lot out of this read.
Grey11 More than 1 year ago
I had heard the theatre tale of Dorian Gray and I wanted to know the real story. Something about the Barnes and Noble book cover of the portrait of Dorian Gray made it stand out amongst the other classics. I normally don't mark my books but there were so many whitty remarks and absolute truths I had to mark them so I could tell others. The story takes place over many years but somehow didn't feel rushed and leaves you screaming for more at the end. On top of that, the most interesting thing about the way Wilde writes this story is that he never really tells you what sins the character is guilty of, thus making you fill them in yourself. How wicked is your soul's own thoughts? Definately a buy and keep!
PiggityPig More than 1 year ago
I read the 13 chapter version, and then the 20 Chapter version. Never, ever read the 13ch version, it is dull and flat. The 20 version, the version we know now, is so much more provacative. While I would still recommend Frankenstein as a philosophical text of this, Dorian Gray makes you question within yourself the forces of hedonism and puritanism. The continual fight between Hedonism and Puritanism is still one we must struggle with today, and with both sides refusing to take a middle ground, Dorian Gray remains an important text.
love-2-readJT More than 1 year ago
I started to read this book because I had wanted to read as many of the classics and I could bear through. The Picture of Darian Grey really fooled me. I thought it would be ho-hum until I stated to read it. What a lesson about life. How very often we do away with someone who really loves us to get along with someone who just wants to use us......and we are too in love with ourselves to know or admit we made a mistake till it is too late. Oscar Wilde was a terrific writer.
CScottMorris More than 1 year ago
This ebook was poorly converted, and is riddled with errors. Find another free copy...
Tamara87 More than 1 year ago
I was first captured by this book by Oscar Wilde's wonderful use of language. Although many of his characters are rotten and dirty at the core, they are still very eloquent and every line could be a thought provoking quote. Even the narrations are equally eloquent. Aside from the language, the story is wonderful and I really enjoyed reading the book, as it is the only novel written by Oscar Wilde. If you enjoy the classics, you better not skip this one...and if you don't: still pick this one up from B&N, you will not be disappointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book for a project in one of my english classes in high school. I loved it. The dialogue is great, the story is awesome, and I was always wondering what happened next. I recommend it!
Glass-Cannon More than 1 year ago
Good read but tends to drone on at times
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why are the same books listed numerous times and at differing cost?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book has a great plot, as well as many lessons learned.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The errors take away from the book, thoughit is good
BastilleDay More than 1 year ago
Good book club "classic"
cdeuker on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm not sure I have the right edition. In any event, the radio version I listened to was very well done. I had no trouble following which character was speaking because of a judicious use of narrators and frequent use of a character's first name as characters talked to one another. Neither of these seemed obtrusive.
Sean191 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An eerie and exciting story. There's a lot of subtext to the work and worth reading over. I'm not sure, it may be Wilde's only true novel... if so, it's too bad he didn't write more of them.
theokester on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.PlotThe plot is intriguing and has been used in other stories, though I think this one has more depth than I've seen before. Essentially, Dorian makes a wish that he will be forever as pristine as the painting made of him and that instead the painting will take on it the toils of his life. Whatever supernatural forces allow this to happen are irrelevant...the wish is granted.It's more than a simple "young forever" contract. Although age plays into the plot in a couple of places, the primary things that distorts the picture are the vices that Dorian engages in. The first transformation of the painting happens after an intense argument with the first woman he loved. It was interesting to me how quickly Dorian recognized the cause of the change for what it was, but had he belabored the motive for too long, the pacing of the book would have stalled and become unacceptable.Dorian uses his "power" to be ruthlessly reckless in his living. Dorian Gray becomes entirely uninhibited, taking everything to its limit, seeking absolute pleasure. He even sneaks out at night (so as not to tarnish his pristine reputation) to the "bad side of town" and lives a sort of double life in opium dens with gangs and prostitutes.In many ways (perhaps because I so recently read it), I felt many similarities to the morale commentary presented in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I felt that Wilde did a better job of delving into the psyche of the hypocritical character, largely because we were able to get into Dorian's head and think and feel with him, while in Jekyll/Hyde, we were kept at a distance by a third person narrative.CharactersThere are three pivotal characters in this book. The first, obviously, is Dorian himself. For the first many chapters (perhaps nearly the first half of the book in fact), I wasn't terribly pleased with Dorian as a character...he felt very flat to me. He was basically a mirror to one of the other primary characters (Harry) and didn't ever show his own opinion. He was hailed as pure and beautiful. Perhaps it's all the art references in the book, but I often felt as if Dorian existed more as a classical statue than as a living, breathing character. As his interaction with the 'picture' progresses and once he takes some rather unexpected steps, he became a deeper character and a lot of fun to be with.The second primary character is Lord Harry (or was it Henry...blast those Brits for swapping those names interchangeably so often *grin*). Harry exists as the provocative, cynical, always-with-a-comment-about-anything mentor to Dorian. Harry is absolutely encouragable and a lot of fun to listen to. His speeches often have to do with the pursuit of pleasure at any and all costs and the hazard of a virtuous and peaceful life. His influence over Dorian is profound. As I mentioned above, it often felt as if Dorian existed merely as a mirror for Harry's advice. Harry didn't seem to follow all of his own advice, but Dorian took it readily to heart and strove to live a 'come-what-may' existence. Harry had some of the funniest and most profound comments of the entire narrative. He's a fabulous character.The third character I want to point out actually existed as more of a background character, but I feel the need to call him out merely because of his pivotal involvement in the plot. I actually can't even remember his name now...but it will s
caklr650 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A clever quip every page! Actually very enjoyable except for that horrid Chapter XI.
crazy4reading on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wow is all I have to say about The Picture of Dorian Gray. I didn't think I would like this book and I was pleasantly surprised with this book. This is the first book I have ever read by Oscar Wilde.The writing in the book was wonderful. The characters words just flow like music as you read the book. I found myself not wanting to put the book down as I was reading. Dorian, Lord Henry and the Artist Harry interact so well with each other. There is a different relationship between all 3 of them and to see the relationships change through the book was enthralling.The ending of the book was quite a surprise to me. When I read it I laughed at how well written the story was and the fact that I never realized the ending until the very last second.I can't wait to read more books written by Oscar Wilde!!
MandaTheStrange on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The most exquisitely written book that I have ever read. I can not fault it. Wilde writes with such grace and eloquence. At times he writes so vividly one feels as if they are right beside Dorian Gray at one of his many soirees, as he is listening to the malicious whispers of Lord Henry, plunging the knife into Basil's throat and finally facing the true horror of his soul in the form of a portrait.The Picture of Dorian Gray is a hauntingly reminiscent tale of the human conscience. Wilde does not hold back upon the darkness that inhabits the human mind, of what we are truly capable of without our soul. It is one of those books that absolutely must be read. It has given me a greater understanding of life and it is a story I will always remember.
drewfull on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While I understand the allegorical importance of the meticulous brushstrokes with which Wilde paints the details of his portrait of Dorian Gray and his language is certainly elegant, there's making a point, then there's overkill, then there's beating a dead horse, then there's roughly 50 pages of this book driving home the same point. Great central conceit, certainly worth reading for Gray's descent into madness, but a bit much.
weakley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was dissapointed in this book. I guess I was expecting more about the macabre aspect of the aging painting and less....bitchy arguments between egos who were besotted with each other. It devolved into a series of two person scenes, which consisted of non-stop mutual admiration and lightly hidden ( maybe ) homosexuality. The murder was the only point during which the story became interesting. Unfortunately it was wrapped up in haste and really didn't add a lot into the overall arc. Maybe this one just wasn't meant for me.
EmaNoella on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Basil Hallward, a remarquable painter, has finally found his best seater, Dorian Gray, a charming, modest and handsome young man. The finished product is found to be so beautiful that the sincere Gray is jealous of his own youth and wishes more than anything in the word to stay as young as he appears in the painting, selling his soul to the devil.With the help of Lord Henry Wotton, the once so wonderfully thought of boy is now the black sheep of the society; no one wanting to have anything to do with him, and inexplicably the boy keeps his young and innocent features.A very worthy read indeed, this book is smart and opens your mind to the worthiness of beauty and how prejudice affects us all. His descriptions are impeccable and characters frank and charming. The authors approach to homosexuality is discreet and yet very present which is very surprising in a novel written in the ninetieth century.
Steve777 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fascinating book, exploring how ones motives and soul interact with ones surroundings.
stephxsu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Oscar Wilde is the man. Besides for being chock-full of good quotes, The Picture of Dorian Gray is also simply an interesting idea, a quick but great read, and a must-read in every literate person's lifetime.
gbill on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wilde¿s Faustian tale of a young man who expresses the desire to sell his soul in order to stop aging and to live a hedonistic life, where the effect of aging as well as his debauchery take place on his portrait, instead of him. It¿s an interesting concept for a story and on top of that Wilde is of course an incredibly sharp wit, so Dorian is enjoyable.Quotes:On the mind-body connection:¿That is one of the great secrets of life ¿ to cure the soul by means of the senses, and the sense by means of the soul.¿On experience:¿As it was, we always misunderstood ourselves, and rarely understood others. Experience was of no ethical value. It was merely the name men gave to their mistakes.¿On joy in small things:¿¿a chance tone of colour in a room or a morning sky, a particular perfume that you had once loved and that brings subtle memories with it, a line from a forgotten poem that you had come across again, a cadence from a piece of music that you had ceased to play ¿ I tell you, Dorian, that it is on things like these that our lives depend.¿On old age:¿We degenerate into hideous puppets, haunted by the memory of the passions of which we were much too afraid, and the exquisite temptations that we had not the courage to yield to¿¿And:¿The only people to whose opinions I listen now with any respect are people much younger than myself. They seem in front of me. Life has revealed to them her latest wonder. As for the aged, I always contradict the aged. I do it on principle. If you ask them their opinion on something that happened yesterday, they solemnly give you the opinions current in 1820, when people wore high stocks, believed in everything, and knew absolutely nothing.¿On parenthood:¿Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.¿On youth:¿What was youth at best? A green, and unripe time, a time of shallow moods, and sickly thoughts.¿
whitewavedarling on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a haunting story that you'll be drawn to despite yourself. Watching the character transform both horrifies and fascinates, and by the end, you might easily have found that you've read the book through in a single sitting. If you enjoy gothic literature, ghost stories, or tales such as Frankenstein, you'll enjoy this one. The criticism here, also, is fairly accessable, and better written than the articles I've read in plenty of other Norton anthologies.