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

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by Oscar Wilde, Camille Cauti (Introduction)
 

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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

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781593080259
Publisher:
Barnes & Noble
Publication date:
06/01/2003
Series:
Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
464
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.72(d)

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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Meet the Author

The ever-quotable Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was an Irish playwright, novelist, essayist, and poet who delighted Victorian England with his legendary wit. He found critical and popular success with his scintillating plays, chiefly The Importance of Being Earnest, while his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, scandalized readers. Imprisoned for two years for homosexual behavior, Wilde moved to France after his release, where he died destitute.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
October 16, 1854
Date of Death:
November 30, 1900
Place of Birth:
Dublin, Ireland
Place of Death:
Paris, France
Education:
The Royal School in Enniskillen, Dublin, 1864; Trinity College, Dublin, 1871; Magdalen College, Oxford, England, 1874

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The Picture of Dorian Gray (Collins Classics) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 807 reviews.
MDC_ColumbiaU More than 1 year ago
"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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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
theokester 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. 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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First classic i've ever read and it was amazing. It was a unique and interesting change from most books i read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Written in the late 1800s by a British author, you can expect lengthy phrasing and vocabulary specific to the Brits. However, the content is very thought provoking. A young and beautiful man, Dorian, who happens to be one of the idle rich that have nothing to do all day but delve in the arts and drink tea, has his portrait painted and subsequently becomes influenced by the artist and his friend. Having no sound background that anchors his psychological and moral character, he easily absorbs the skewed philosophies of the two men. He is taught by the artist that youth and beauty is everything and is so temporary that one must do anything to hold on to it. The other man teaches him that there are no consequences to your sins. "Men represent the triumph of mind over morals" and "the sins we commit once with loathing, we will do many more times with joy". Dorian quickly became totally hedonistic and sold his soul to stay young and beautiful. He wished that the portrait would take on the changes in his beauty as he grew older. It also began taking on physical changes of cruelty and evil. The book depicts his moral decline and the grotesque changes in the portrait. It has many quotable passages. The mind of Oscar Wilde is fascinating.
Bookworm95AO More than 1 year ago
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.
MrsG-EnglishTeacher More than 1 year ago
The Picture of Dorian Gray is an interesting exploration of human weaknesses. Kind of creepy!
XX18 More than 1 year ago
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!!!!
Holly2009 More than 1 year ago
This book is magnificient. It allowed me to appreciate my own mortality and the impact that my life has on others. It also made me realize that there truly are good and evil people that exist in this world. Wilde captures the beauty of human life in every syllable.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One my favorite books since Phantom of the Opera. It should be on Oprahs reading list!!! VERY INTELLECTUAL!!! MUST READ!!! MEMORABLE!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Poe_Ho More than 1 year ago
I absolutely LOVE this book!!! Very quotable and extremely spellbinding! I highly recommend it!
songcatchers More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down! I read it in two days and was sad when it ended. I definitely recommend it for a rainy day and a cup of coffee, it has a message and is also a thrilling read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a great piece of writing! At first I was hesitant and only had to read it for a research paper for my college English class. But soon got engulfed in the life of Dorian Gray and couldn't put the book down!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Number ONE!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolutely loved this book. I would have given 5 stars if there weren't so many foot notes and side notes. The language style is a bit difficult to get used to at first but after a while it flowed quite nicely. I did end up purchasing the movie and I watched it before finishing the book. It helped the flow of the story a little better for me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is is a wonderful read it has a rich setting and detaild that bring this exceptional work of literature to life I would hughly recomend to anyone!
semcdwes More than 1 year ago
Set at the height of the Victorian era in London, this novel tells the story of a young man who becomes so enamored of his youth and beauty that he allows it to steal his soul. Corrupted by the flattery of a painter who idolized him and the careless words of a dandy that the only virtues to be had are youth and beauty, he makes a desperate plea that his portrait will age while he remains unchanged. The premise is a fascinating one. What vices would one allow themself if they knew that it could never be seen on our faces by the outer world? However, I think it is an inherently flaws concept, as most people are guided by a set of morals and ethics that would stop us long before we reached that state of corruption that the titular character does. However I thought it was greatly redeemed by the novel's conclusion. More than anything, I found that the philosophical tone of the novel was overbearing. I enjoy the study of philosophy, and I don't typically mind it's presence in my books. That said, it so consumed the story that I found myself skimming not only passages but at one point a whole chapter. It was just too much and in my opinion detracted from the narrative. I know that Wilde is much more widely known as a playwright, and as this was only my first taste of his style, I intend to try one of his plays to see if I find it more readable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was destroyed by this book. Never have I felt such strong emotions, and this was all from reading this book. It's a different type of feeling that you get from reading Oscar Wilde. It's an enlightened feeling, a feeling of completion. This book gives me sense of that completion like I have learned everything there is in the world, yet I have not. The Picture of Dorian Gray takes place in late 19th century London. London at this time was a place of class. Men were men, and ladies were ladies. Basil Hallward was an artist, who painted a picture of this charming and mystical young man, Dorian Gray. Basil is so passionate about this perfect human being that he insists on him not meeting anyone else as to not spoil his delicate character. Dorian is seen by many as perfect, with his baby blue eyes, and blonde hair. He is liked by all, and is naive, and young.  Dorian meets Basil’s friend, Lord Henry, who tells Dorian about the darkness of life. “Women, as some witty Frenchman once put it, inspire us with the desire to do masterpieces and always prevent us from carrying them out.” -Lord Henry, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Dorian realizes that he does not want to grow old and live these horrible things that man lives. So he goes to the painting that Basil painted of him, and wishes that he will never grow old.  Dorian then lives his life, committing atrocities and wrong doings, and his face always stays old. Then after he broke an actress’ heart and she kills herself, he realizes that the painting has a snarl. The painting grows older while he stays young! This book has a sense of science fiction or mythology but yet it is still quite enjoyable for me. It’s a realistic fiction book but the painting is definitely science fiction. The way that Oscar Wilde writes is powerful. His writings made me stay up late at night just thinking to myself. He has that deep striking style that is shown in this book and many others. Oscar Wilde is definitely a great writer and this book is a must read. Alex B.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is a little bit different to read, since it was written more than a century ago, in a less fast-paced society full of Internet, celebrity scandals, and up-to-date news that no one cares about. It's like a story pulled out of Arabian Nights. The painting ages, but he does not. Eternal youth has been a theme throughout many stories, but Wilde adds his clever and quirky comments throughout the book of society and women. Oscar Wilde is typically a playwright, and his biography reveals he lived a pretty tough life, during 19th century England after his university stay. Nonetheless, a fascinating novel worth a read.