Here in its entirety is the classic cautionary tale about the pursuit of eternal youth at the expense of the soul.
When a beautiful portrait is painted of him, young Dorian Gray makes a vain, rash wish to always remain as beautiful as the painting. His wish comes true, and Gray starts a descent deep into moral decay. As he indulges in excesses and corruption, his physical form remains unblemished - but the portrait becomes decrepit and ugly. Gray's evil deeds eventually grow to include murder and lead him further and further toward Wilde's disconcerting conclusion that "ugliness is the only reality".
This classic tale of moral transgression shocked Victorian England and was used against Oscar Wilde when he was tried in court in 1895 for being a homosexual.
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The Picture of Dorian Gray is an iconic work like, for example, Henry James's The Turn of the Screw. It needs a great reader. Unfortunately Dan Janson is not great reader, in fact I am sure I could do better myself. Audible, try again: maybe Jeremy Irons would do it for a grand (he was marvellous in the BBC "A Pair of Blue Eyes").
Best of 2016: "We Are Bob: We Are Legion" by Dennis E. Taylor (narrated by Ray Porter).
The book most certainly gets five stars. Every line is quotable, and the parallels between the book and Wilde's own life are fascinating. Consider for example that Wilde writes about a painter, Basil Hallward, who has just finished creating the best portrait of his life -- that of Dorian Gray -- but is afraid to release it because of what people might think.
"I have put too much of myself into it," Basil comments, which is just another way of saying "If I put this on display, people will think that I'm gay."
Meanwhile, the book itself (as the publisher's summary mentions) does <em> exactly</em> that: It gets used against Wilde to help put him away a few years later. When Wilde emerge from prison, after serving two years, he is a broken man. He is unable to publish books or plays unless he does so anonymously, his wife dies, and he loses visitation rights to his children -- all this because of HIS relationship with a younger man! (Keep in mind that <em>Dorian Gray</em> was written before Wilde had even met Alfred Dougless, the young man in question.)
The book stands on its own even without all of the controversy. It's a hybrid tale -- sort of a cross between a Victorian comedy and a Faustian deal with the devil morality tale (all with a delightful homoerotic subtext). The narration, on the other hand, could have been just a tad better, although it certainly was serviceable. Can't really put my finger on what was wrong actually. Just needed to be <em>better.</em>
I listened to this book in one day. Five days later I am still haunted by the imagery. Very well written. This novel has everything. It's gothic...it's has lush interiors...it has social commentary. The reader is good as well. Highly recommend.
I've been meaning to read this story for many years, now, and I'm glad to have finally done so. This is a high concept story with a really interesting premise - what if a man's portrait changed appearance as he aged and became worldly instead of the man? It has some good points, but its protagonist is difficult to like, and I think the tale is more important for the stories it has inspired others to write than for what it accomplishes on its own.
I fear I may be selling it short simply because the narrator really made this one a chore. I've read many classics of literature through Audible, and I enjoyed most. I expect that the language, pacing, and characterization may not be what we come to expect of stories today. I have no problem with that. But there is this tendency to use really old recordings for audio versions of any book that wasn't published in the last twenty years that can make reading literary greats for fun feel like a tedious high school English class assignment.
In this case, the reading clearly predated the idea of audiobook as something for people who don't *need* to read audiobooks. It was read for the blind or for those with aging eyes who don't have much choice but to use audiobooks. It was not exactly monotone, but there was no attempt made to distinguish voices, and there was a certain pattern of rising an falling intonations that did not so much inspire interest as encourage sleep. That actively diminished from my enjoyment of the story, and I wish I had read it in print, instead.
Although Wilde tries to hit far too many home-runs with quotable-quotes, sometimes hitting flush and sometimes missing altogether, he proves his greatness in this novel without question. This is a strong, bold story of a man who accidentally sells his soul for eternal youth. On that premise, the story unfolds in the hands of an excellent storyteller.
Charactor seemed interesting in the the League of Extrodinary Gentalmen. Clearly the movie took some libertys... Book was good but fairly slow at some points and almost seemed a bit winey. Did not realize that this was an orgional or very old reading of the book, after a bit I got used to the reader but you could clearly tell that technology had changed a bit.
Maybe too many years in journalism, but way too many words to get to the point. Lost me several times, but an interesting story in the end
I tried listening to it, but I just couldn't force myself after about an hour's worth. The dialogue of the time period in this story is amusing, and sometimes pleasant, but the story was just going nowhere!
After watching "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen", which casts the character of Dorian Gray, I wanted to learn more about this character because I found the concept intriguing: a man is immortal while a portrait of himself ages.
The narrator was a bit annoying and lifeless. Perhaps reading the book would have been better.
"Picture of Dorin Gray"
Oscar Wilde's masterful wordsmithing.... in an American accent! 'The 'Gros...venor' Too, too hard to listen to the text when translating Wilde's glorious prose from Amrican to the euphony of English. Wondered if I was in fact listening to The Philadephia Story. Sad to say, but it put me off.
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