Eclectic mixer of books of my youth and ones I always meant to read, but didn't.
There is no other word that truly describes Oscar Wilde. In this, one of his very best, there is the hallmark of his genius, his wit, his insatiable urge to shock and to flirt with danger. In De Profundis, his farewell apologia in exile, he wrote of how he "entertained at dinner the evil things of life ... [because] ... the danger was half the excitement." This sums up this title, too. In it, Lord Henry Wotton is Wilde's alter ego and one can't help but speculate if the physical attractions of Dorian Gray were drawn from the real life canvas of Lord Alfred Douglas, whom was to be Wilde's undoing.
I listened to the narrative and followed along in my Folio copy, interspersing passages with the transcript from Wilde's famous defamation trial. Sir Edward Carson's classic cross examination about this very book and whether Wilde adhered to the view that "there is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. It is well written or badly written", is so much clearer with the book in hand. The fact that Wilde could hold at bay such a prodigious legal assault by strength of his intellect in the face of its obvious innuendo is amazing in itself.
The story, so Gothic yet so simple and clever, is as ageless as Gray's features.
I loved Simon Vance's performance, too. There were times when it reminded me of his dialogue in the Audible Edition of Dracula between Jonathan Harker and the Count. Other times, it was Wilde speaking to Lord Alfred. The intonation is perfect and the timing impeccable.
I loved re-visiting this classic. Top marks!
I'm a mom. I have drama in my life. I don't want books with the F-bomb, nor graphic violence. I read for fun and to bring my family together. I read for reducing stress levels. We have never had a television in our home and our children are now mid twenties to 19. We listen together and look for belly-wrenching laughter. So what is it like to live without a TV? Awesomely educational and inspirational. Each new book is a marvel.
I have not read this book before, I have not had to read Cliff's Notes and report on this, nor have I seen a movie based on this book. I did not expect this ending and I was kept captivated by the reader Simon Vance. I would recommend this book to others and certainly would look for other books narrated by Simon. WOW!
My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.
There is a passage early on where Lord Henry Wotton, the Mephistopheles character in this little morality play, offers a definition of the word 'influence' that encapsulates the central issue of the book. The word 'influence' is repeated often enough in this short book that I think Wilde must have intended that significance. It's something I overlooked the first time I read this book 40 years ago. I must have overlooked a lot because the book has improved a great deal in that time. It helps to have more context about Wilde and his times. And it helps too to know how much the extravagant descriptive passages owe to Wilde's French inspiration, À Rebours, a book sadly not available on audio.
Watching Dorian deteriorate under the influence of Lord Henry, while the positive friend, Basil Hallward, refuses to influence him at all, it strikes me that Wilde is making a rather strong case for morality in contradiction to the usual libertine motives ascribed to him. One thing that I think is often overlooked about Dorian is that he is described by Basil at the beginning as having some kind of special unique personality. Who he would have become if left uninfluenced is one of the mysteries that makes the story poignant.
One wishes Wilde had explored that possibility. One wishes that Dorian, as he ages, would become a person with a more defined persona. But he remains a rather unformed cipher right up to the end. That is yet another mystery Wilde left unexplored. What was it about Dorian that kept him from becoming "the hero of his own life" as Dickens phrased it?
Still, the questions Wilde chose to explore have managed to produce one of the iconic books of the Victorian Age. One might ask what it was about the puritanical moralistic Victorians that has left us with such a collection of horrific Gothic legacy: Dorian Gray, Dracula, Jekyll and Hyde, etc.
The painting itself plays such a small part in the book, one is tempted to wonder if the title is actually referring to the painting or not. I am inclined to believe the title really refers to the book itself (i.e., a narrative picture rather than a visual one).
I wanted to read some of the classics, but I have a hard time staying interested when they're slow-moving. Dorian Gray is a really great book, but I honestly think the credit goes to Simon Vance for making it come alive. There is a HUGE difference when actors narrate books, and this book is a perfect example of that. If you're trying to differentiate between the 15 different versions of Dorian Grey on Audible, get this one.
I decided to listen to the original story since the outline is very well known and has even been immortalised in Jasper Fforde's 'Thursday Next' Series. Alas, my fears about reading styles of yesteryear were realised. The story is slow and extremely philosophical.
Simon Vance's performance is fitting to the writing style but that makes it less accessible to the modern mind. I gave up listening to it about 1/3 of the way in. I might try again in a year or two.
It's known to be a classic and regarded very highly but a bit too high-brow for my current frame of mind.
My little sister who never got into reading actively started a discussion about this book when she was reading it in school, for which I'm grateful. An interesting novella, especially when paired with The Curious Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. As both struggle with the inner vs the outer person. Though very different takes on it.
Dorian Grey is a young beautiful man who poses for a painting. When it is finished he wishes that the he will always stay that beautiful and that the painting would take all the marks of his living. This comes to pass, but the consequences spiral out of control. The painting becomes a reflection of Dorian's very soul baring the stains of his sins.
I can't say anymore without giving things away, so listen to it.
I just really like this story a lot!
Wonderful reader easy to understand.
It was a sad tale.
While Oscar Wilde is indeed a great writer, and this book is read beautifully by Simon Vance, the weakness is that key plot elements in The Picture of Dorian Gray have not aged well.
First, one has to suspend disbelief about how a painting of the protagonist magically ages while the protagonist stays young looking.
Second, one has to believe this staying young looking causes the protagonist to become evil, yet, the reader gets relatively little insight into what evil that the protagonist has done. Further, much of the supposed wrong doing Dorian supposedly engages in is by Victorian standards, not modern ones. Through the magical painting Dorian Gray manages to stay looking like he was 20 until he is 38, whereas the painting of him turns into an ugly, aged, satyr. These days with 40 year old movie stars still looking like they're 20 makes it hard to swallow how staying young looking would cause Dorian to become evil.
The Picture of Dorian Gray is a morality play, with a message. But the Victorian plot devices Wilde uses have not aged well, making the story all too incredible for some readers to enjoy, which somehow seems oddly fitting about a story of a many who does not age appropriately and who is obsessed with pleasure.
yes, the flamboyant fraternal comradeship of the protagonist was a bit off putting in and distracted from the text, i think a reread will allow me to get a better understanding
the introduction of sir henry
the introduction of sir henry
Yes. The narration of this classic story is excellent. The Picture of Dorian Gray has a lesson to be learned. We are what we do.
Yes. Since first hearing Simon Vance's voice, I've added him to my list of Favorite Narrators. His diction is excellent and each character's voice is distinctive and clear. He brings the books he narrates alive.
Absolutely. I could listen to Simon Vance all day, every day.