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Editorial Reviews

Oscar Wilde’s classic endures with its gems of astute observation and cynical wit. The eerie story follows a young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty in the form of a supernatural portrait. Life's mysterious paradoxes are laced throughout Lord Henry's brilliant aphorisms. Gray is urged by Henry to "love the wonderful life that is in you." The novel's qualities are mired in decadence, "art for art's sake," the new hedonism of the Victorian-era upper class, and societal moral corruption. Simon Prebble perfectly achieves Lord Henry's "low, languid voice" and sparkling conversation, while avidly expressing the other characters' more torrid emotions. Prebble brings the fable's gothic horror to life, but the more youthful characters lack believable intonation.

Publisher's Summary

Oscar Wilde brings his enormous gifts for astute social observation and sparkling prose to The Picture of Dorian Gray, the 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 and enchanting readers for more than 100 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 simply 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.
(P)2008 Tantor

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  • Performance
  • Story

Sorry to say had trouble getting through this.

Any additional comments?

I know it's a classic that's why I got it. Too many words, chapter 11 is 44 mins about the jewelry Dorian wore. After 22 mins of that I just push to the end of that chapter and continued on. What kind of clothes and his shoes. bla bla bla. It was painful but I can say I got through it. Oh I didn't know about the end which I found interesting. The narration was very good, I enjoyed that part. Don't get me wrong, the story was good but to many words.

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good classic. longer than it needs to be

I'm a huge Oscar Wilde fan and enjoyed the books but parts of the book went on and on. They also seemed unnecessary I'm sure the goal of the author was to paint the very Vivid picture or but there was some things that just didn't seem necessary that being said it was a very good story

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Great Read

What did you love best about The Picture of Dorian Gray?

The uniqueness and originality of the story.

Have you listened to any of Simon Prebble’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Simon is always wonderful. I've listened to many of his readings. This one measures up to his high standard.

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Classic story...

For anyone who hasn't read it by now, it's a timeless tale of ego, virtue and morality.
Although the obvious anti-semitism through use of one of his characters (the stage manager) is painful and saddening. I'm an Oscar Wilde fan but I was unaware of this trait.

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Wonderfully narrated, a riveting story!

So wonderfully narrated and extraordinarily written, a psychological thriller! It absorbed my life until I'd finished it, at which time I felt exhausted. The type of exhausted you feel at the end of a story about a terrible person.

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Great book!

While slightly different than the movie at times, I think that I preferred this version. I liked the narrator's voice as well, seemed to fit the story perfectly.

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Bottom line

Oscar Wilde writing style not for me.
I've always loved the movie and unlike most the movie is BETTER than the book.
Hard to identify with any character!!

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familiar with the story, never read the book

like most people I knew the tale glad I finally read book. great job narrator!

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Mostly enjoyable

Five stars for the excellent narration. The story itself is weird, of course. A number of times I wanted to do the equivalent of walking out of the room and slamming the door every time Lord Henry spoke, the big jerk. When I was small my mother had a hardbound copy with color illustrations of the portrait: how horrified and fascinated I was! On hearing this audio book I remembered the sailor brother and thought he would be Dorian's comeuppance. I'm glad I didn't remember the real ending till later.

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Interesting read but diminished by censorship

I liked the dialogue. I almost want to read it again in book form to really soak up some of the more interesting and thought-provoking exchanges. I liked the narrator – Simon Prebble – and felt that he was ideal for the book. I also like the themes addressed in the book. Not to mention the general concept of the book. It’s been so fascinating to me that on-screen portrayals of Dorian Gray have been a favorite of mine. I decided to seek out the book because of this fascination.

As I listened to the audiobook, I kept wondering what debauchery was so bad that Dorian's name became anathema in good society. Sure, he was a cad with odd habits but we have had worse characters in literature who were not so notorious. After reading about the critical reception of the book, I found that considerable censure caused Oscar Wilde to censor his work for publication. He edited or removed much of debaucheries to satisfy the moral attitudes of the time. In my opinion, the plot suffered.

Then apparently, Wilde simply quit at the end. With no clever way to end the story, he went the simplest and unforgivably preachy route.