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The Picture of Dorian Gray | [Oscar Wilde]

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Dorian Gray, a handsome and narcissistic young man, lives thoughtlessly for his own pleasure. One day, after having his portrait painted, Dorian makes a frivolous Faustian wish: that he should always remain as young and beautiful as he is in that painting, while the portrait grows old in his stead.

The wish comes true, and Dorian soon finds that none of his wicked actions have visible consequences. Realizing that he will appear fresh and unspoiled no matter what kind of life he lives, Dorian becomes increasingly corrupt. Only the portrait grows degenerate and ugly, a powerful symbol of Dorian's internal ruin.

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Publisher's Summary

Dorian Gray, a handsome and narcissistic young man, lives thoughtlessly for his own pleasure - an attitude encouraged by the company he keeps. One day, after having his portrait painted, Dorian makes a frivolous Faustian wish: that he should always remain as young and beautiful as he is in that painting, while the portrait grows old in his stead.

The wish comes true, and Dorian soon finds that none of his wicked actions have visible consequences. Realizing that he will appear fresh and unspoiled no matter what kind of life he lives, Dorian becomes increasingly corrupt, unchecked by public opinion. Only the portrait grows degenerate and ugly, a powerful symbol of Dorian's internal ruin.

Wilde's dreamlike exploration of life without limits scandalized its late-Victorian audience and has haunted readers' imaginations for more than a hundred years.

(P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What Members Say

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  •  
    A. Chang Spring Hill, KS, United States 06-25-11
    A. Chang Spring Hill, KS, United States 06-25-11 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good Novel, Outstanding Narrator!"

    I would read anything by Simon Vance, he is a delight to listen. The book was good but is not for everyone. If you enjoy descriptions, dark humor and some philosophy you will like this book.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tina Nibley, UT, United States 12-09-10
    Tina Nibley, UT, United States 12-09-10 Member Since 2013

    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.

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    "I am amazed!"

    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!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jorge zambrano 04-28-15
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    "Excellent writing, great finale"

    I never read the book or saw the movie, but when i read about it i thought it was going to be a book full of sins and depravation, i was not seeking that, but i was surprised that it didn't go into details of what Dorian Gray did to become so evil. That is the only part that i didn't love, maybe it could explain how he gets to be so bad.

    On the other part the hedonist and cynical point of view given through Lord Henry is excellent, i think that is what made this book so important and influential.

    I loved the ending.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barry Petaluma, CA, United States 09-26-14
    Barry Petaluma, CA, United States 09-26-14 Member Since 2008

    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.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The magic word is 'influence'"

    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).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jenn HIGHLANDS RANCH, CO, United States 08-05-14
    Jenn HIGHLANDS RANCH, CO, United States 08-05-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Simon Vance brought this book to life!"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susanne 06-09-14
    Susanne 06-09-14
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    5
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    "Too Philosophical"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    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.


    What didn’t you like about Simon Vance’s performance?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    It's known to be a classic and regarded very highly but a bit too high-brow for my current frame of mind.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joseph Ewing, NJ, United States 10-30-12
    Joseph Ewing, NJ, United States 10-30-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Got my littleSister to enjoy discussing literature"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy 06-19-12
    Kathy 06-19-12
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    "loved thls story"
    What did you love best about The Picture of Dorian Gray?

    I just really like this story a lot!


    What about Simon Vance’s performance did you like?

    Wonderful reader easy to understand.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It was a sad tale.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas C. Bates Boston, MA 04-30-12
    Douglas C. Bates Boston, MA 04-30-12 Member Since 2014
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    "Not Aging Well"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    B. Burke 04-05-12
    B. Burke 04-05-12 Member Since 2009
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    "fun concept"
    Would you listen to The Picture of Dorian Gray again? Why?

    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


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Picture of Dorian Gray?

    the introduction of sir henry


    Which scene was your favorite?

    the introduction of sir henry


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    na


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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