Il Ritratto di Dorian Gray

By Oscar Wilde, Jeffrey Eugenides

1,058,223 ratings - 4.33* vote

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Book details

, 286 pages
2002 by RSC Editori S.p.A
Edition Language

Community Reviews


Oh Dorian. Oh Dorian.

When I first read this book in the fruitless years of my youth I was excited, overwhelmed and a blank slate (as Dorian is, upon his first encounter with Lord Henry) easily molded, persuaded, influenced, etc.

Certain Wildisms (Wildeisms?) would take my breath away. Would become my mottos to believe in. To follow. To live.

Lines like:

"It is silly of you, for there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."

"But beauty, real beauty, ends where an intellectual expression begins. Intellect is in itself a mode of exaggeration, and destroys the harmony of any face."

"If they know nothing of victory, they are at least spared the knowledge of defeat."

"Genius lasts longer than Beauty. That accounts for the fact that we all take such pains to over-educate ourselves. In the wild struggle for existence, we want to have something that endures, and so we fill our minds with rubbish and facts, in the silly hope of keeping our place."

"You know more than you think you know, just as you know less than you want to know."

Re-reading this masterpiece and coming upon these highlighted lines was possibly more interesting than the book this time. Why had I highlighted these lines? Do they still mean the same thing to me, as they did when I first took note of them, enough to highlight them? I still love all of those lines. But no longer feel so strongly for them.

Now these are lines that stick out still to me. Or were newly underlined on the second pass through. New Wildisms to mold me.

"Oh, I can't explain. When I like people immensely I never tell their names to any one. It is like surrendering a part of them. I have grown to love secrecy. It seems to be the one thing that can make modern life mysterious or marvelous to us. The commonest thing is delightful if one only hides it. When I leave town now I never tell my people where I am going. If I did, I would lose all my pleasure. It is a silly habit, I dare say, but somehow it seems to bring a great deal of romance into one's life. I suppose you think me awfully foolish about it?"

"Yes; she is a peacock in everything but beauty."

"Laughter is not at all a bad beginning for a friendship, and it is far the best ending for one."

"I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their good intellects."

"Ah! this Morning! You have lived since then."

"what brings you out so early? I thought you dandies never got up till two, and were not visible till five." --A new personal favorite. That I follow very seriously.

"She behaves as if she was beautiful. Most American women do. It is the secret of their charm."

'He thought for a moment. "Can you remember any great error that you committed in your early days, Duchess?" he asked, looking at her across the table.
"A great many, I fear," she cried.
"Then commit them over again," he said, gravely. "To get back one's youth one has merely to repeat one's follies."
"A delightful theory!" she exclaimed. " I must put it into practice."

"Besides, each time that one loves is the only time one has ever loved. Difference of object does not alter singleness of passion."

It turns out that all of these quotes occur in the first 45 pages, except that last one which is right near the end. And it seems most of my reviews end up being mostly quotes from the book itself, but I figure this is what shaped and informed my reading, so I want to share it with all of you. What do you think of it all?

That said, poor Sybil Vane! Poor James Vane! Poor Basil Hallward! Shit, even poor old Lord Henry Wotton! And Dorian! Oh Dorian! Lead the life you did and for what?

That's all I am going to say about the book. I don't think I shall read Against Nature, for fear of being seduced like Dorian.

If you're tired of this review or just tired in general, stop now and come back later. I am going to include two more quotes from the book that truly fucked me up. So much I had to read them at least 3 times in a row. And then transcribe them here for you. The last section, thats the one that did it. Beautiful.

Here goes:

"There is no such thing as a good influence, Mr. Gray. All influence is immoral-immoral from the scientific point of view."
"Because to influence a person is to give him one's own soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions. His virtues are not real to him. His sins, if there are such things as sins, are borrowed. He becomes an echo of some one else's music, an actor of a part that has not been written for him. The aim of life is self-development. To realize one's nature perfectly-that is what each of us is here for. People are afraid of themselves nowadays. They have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty that one owes to one's self. Of course they are charitable. They feed the hungry and cloth the beggar. But their own souls starve, and are naked. Courage has gone out of our race. Perhaps we never really had it. The terror of society, which is the basis of morals; the terror of God, which is the secret of religion-these are the two things that govern us. And yet-"
"And yet," continues Lord Henry, in his low, musical voice,"I believe that if one man were to live out his life fully and completely, were to give form to every feeling, expression to every thought, reality to every dream-I believe that the world would gain such a fresh impulse of joy that we would forget all the maladies of mediaevalism, and return to the Hellenic ideal-to something finer, richer than the Hellenic ideal, it may be. But the bravest man among us is afraid of himself. The mutilation of the savage has its tragic survival in the self-denial that mars our lives. We are punished for our refusals. Every impulse that we strive to strangle broods in the mind and poisons us. The body sins once, and has done with its sins, for action is a mode of purification. Nothing remains then but the recollection of a pleasure, or the luxury of a regret. The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful. It has been said that the great events of the world take place in the brain. It is in the brain, and the brain only, that the great sins of the world take place also. You, Mr. Gray, you yourself, with your rose-red youth and your rose-white boyhood, you have had passions that have made you afraid, thoughts that have filled you with terror, day-dreams and sleeping dreams whose mere memory might stain your cheek with shame-"
"Stop!" faltered Dorian Gray, "stop! you bewilder me. I don't know what to say. There is some answer to you, but I cannot find it. Don't speak. Let me think, or, rather, let me try not to think."


"There are few of us who have not sometimes wakened before dawn, either after one of those dreamless nights that make us almost enamored of death, or one of those nights of horror and misshapen joy, when through the chambers of the brain sweep phantoms more terrible than reality itself, and instinct with that vivid life that lurks in all grotesques, and that lends to Gothic art its enduring vitality, this art being, one might fancy, especially the art of those who minds have been troubled with the malady of reverie. Gradually white fingers creep through the curtains, and they appear to tremble. In black, fantastic shapes, dumb shadows crawl into the corners of the room, and crouch there. Outside, there is the stirring of the birds among the leaves, or the sound of men going forth to their work, or the sigh and sob of the wind coming down from the hills and wandering round the silent house, as though it feared to wake the sleeper, and yet must needs call forth Sleep from her purple cave. Veil after veil of thin, dusky gauze is lifted, and by degrees the forms and colors of things are restored to them, and we watch the dawn remaking the world in its antique pattern. The wan mirrors get back their mimic life. The flameless tapers stand where we had left them, and beside them lies the half-cut book that we had been studying, or the wired flower that we had worn at the ball, or the letter we had been afraid to read, or that we had read too often. Nothing seems to us changed. Out of the unreal shadows of the night comes back the real life that we had known. We have to resume it where we had left off, and there steals over us a terrible sense of the necessity for the continuance of energy in the same wearisome round of stereotyped habits, or a wild longing, it may be, that our eyelids might open some morning upon a world that had been refashioned anew in the darkness for our pleasure, a world in which things would have fresh shapes and colors, and be changed, or have other secrets, a world in which the past would have little or no place, or survive, at any rate, in no conscious form of obligation or regret, the remembrance even of joy having its bitterness, and the memories of pleasure their pain."



Arguably literature's greatest study of shallowness, vanity, casual cruelty and hedonistic selfishness, Wilde lays it down here with ABSOLUTE PERFECTION!! This was my first experience in reading Oscar Wilde and the man’s gift for prose and dialogue is magical. This story read somewhat like a dark, corrupted Jane Austen in that the writing was snappy and pleasant on the ear, but the feeling it left you with was one of hopelessness and despair.

The level of cynicism and societal disregard that Wilde’s characters display towards humanity is simply staggering. Despite the dark (or more likely because of it) this is one of the most engaging, compelling and lyrical pieces of literature I have read. The quality of the prose is nothing short masterful.

I assume most people know the basic outline of the plot, but I will give you a few sentences on it. The three main characters are Basil Hallward, Lord Henry Wotton and Dorian Gray. Basil Hallward is an artist who after painting a picture of Dorian Gray becomes obsessed with him because of his beauty (the homosexual vs. art object love Basil feels towards Dorian are left vague, likely because of the time it was written). Dorian then meets a friend Basil’s, Lord Henry, and becomes enthralled with Lord Henry’s world view, which is a form of extreme hedonism that posits the only worthwhile life is one spent pursuing beauty and satisfaction for the senses.
The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful.
Well at one point, Dorian utters the famous words quoted at the beginning of my review and the “Faustian” bargain is struck.

While this story is often mentioned among the classics of the Horror genre (which I do have a problem with) this is much more a study of the human monster than it is some boogeyman. My favorite parts of the story were the extensive dialogues between the characters, usually Dorian and Lord Henry. They were wonderfully perverse and display a level of casual cruelty and vileness towards humanity that make it hard to breathe while reading. Oh, and Lord Henry reserves particular offense for the female of the species, to wit:
My dear boy, no woman is a genius. Women are a decorative sex. They never have anything to say, but they say it charmingly. Women represent the triumph of matter over mind, just as men represent the triumph of mind over morals.
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YES folks...he absolutely did.

One of the most intriguing quotes I have seen from Oscar Wilde regarding this book is his comparison of himself to the three main characters. He said that he wrote the three main characters as reflections of himself. Wilde said, “Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry is what the world thinks me: Dorian is what I would like to be—in other ages, perhaps.”

I was somewhat floored by this as I found Dorian to be a truly stark representation of evil and could not see how Wilde could find an idealized form within the character. When I say evil, I don't mean just misguided or weak-minded, someone bamboozled by the clever lectures of Lord Henry. I found Gray to be selfish, vain, inhumanly callous and sadistically cruel. I intend to try and learn more about Wilde’s outlook on this character as it truly escapes me.

Regardless, this is a towering piece of literature. Beautifully written and filled with memorable characters and a deeply moving story. A novel deserving of its status as a classic of English Literature. 5.0 stars. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!!!

P.S. For of audiobooks. I listened to the audio version of this read by Michael Page who has become one of my favorite narrators. His performance here was amazing.


This book reminded me why I hate classics.

Like Frankenstein, it starts out with a great premise: what if a portrait bore the brunt of age and sin, while the person remained in the flush of youth? How would that person feel as they watched a constant reminder of their true nature develop? And like Frankenstein, it gets completely bogged down in uninteresting details and takes forever to get to the interesting bits. Seriously, in a 230-page novel, the portrait doesn't even start to change until 100 pages in.

And it's so damn flowery. Every time Lord Harry starts talking (and believe me, he likes to talk) he's so witty. Witty witty witty. Ahahaha, you're soooooooo worldly wise and charming. And entirely cynical! You just have a quip for everything, don't you? Look, reader, look. See Harry. See Harry corrupt Dorian. Corrupt, Harry, corrupt!

I actually ended up skimming most of the book. I really thought about stopping, but I hoped it would redeem itself by the end. It didn't. I should have just skipped to the last page. So to save you, dear reader, the same pain I went through, is the summary of Dorian Gray (spoilers, of course):

Dorian semi-consciously makes Faustian bargain to transfer all his sins and signs of age to his portrait. He sins and feels guilty about it, but keeps doing it anyway. He finally decides to get ride of the portrait/evidence and stabs the painting. Surprise, it breaks the spell, and he is left ugly, old and dead while his portrait returns to its original form. The end. You can thank me later.

UPDATE 9/3/12: Since this review is still around and kicking four years later, I thought I might point like-minded individuals to a new parody of classic literature to the tune of Call Me Maybe: Call Me Ishmael!

chai ♡

Facts that I know for sure:

1. I got this edition because I'm a slave to the aesthetics and that's exactly the kind of motive the ghost of Oscar Wilde would approve of

2. It’s safe to assume that no matter what I’m doing, at any given moment in time, at least 20% of my brain capacity is perpetually dedicated to making sure I’m clever enough, flamboyant enough, petty enough, gay enough, dramatic enough to earn the approval of the ghost of Oscar Wilde

Emily May

"The sitter is merely the accident, the occasion. It is not he who is revealed by the painter; it is rather the painter who, on the coloured canvas, reveals himself. The reason I will not exhibit this picture is that I am afraid that I have shown in it the secret of my own soul."

And so begins this tale of art and sin.

I would highly recommend first watching the movie Wilde, a film which takes the audience on a journey through the life of the tormented writer, from the beginnings of his fame to his later incarceration for "gross indecency" - a charge used to imprison individuals when it was impossible to prove sodomy. Wilde was sentenced to two years hard labour and died not long after being freed due to health problems gained during those two years. Looking at Wilde's story from a twenty-first century perspective, it is sad and horrifying to realise this man was indirectly sentenced to death for being gay. The "hard labour" prescribed was carried out in various ways but one of the most common was the treadmill:

This machine made prisoners walk continuously uphill for hours on end and had many long-term effects on people's health.

Why do I think it's important to know this? Because, as Wilde claims, in every piece of art there is more of the artist than anything else. And I believe this is especially true of The Picture of Dorian Gray more than perhaps any other fictional work I've read. In this novel, Wilde explores the nature of sin, of morality and immorality. The homoerotic undertones between Dorian Gray, Basil Hallward and Lord Henry Wotton are, I think, the author's little expression of his own secret "sins" within his work. Rarely does a work of fiction so deeply seem to mirror elements of the author's life.

By 1891, when The Picture of Dorian Gray was published, Oscar Wilde had met and fallen in love with Lord Alfred Douglas and they had begun a semi-secret affair. By which I mean that many were suspicious of the relationship but didn't argue with Wilde's claims that they shared a Socrates/Plato teacher/student kind of love. The idolisation of Dorian Gray's youth and beauty, his tendency to be mean at random... these characteristics all fit with the description and personality of Lord Alfred Douglas. For me, there is no real question as to whether part of Dorian is meant to be Mr Wilde's lover.

I think if you familiarise yourself with Oscar Wilde, this becomes a very personal novel, much more than just a disturbing horror story where a man sells his soul. But even without any additional information, I think this is a sad and haunting book that tells of the joyful naivete of youth and the sad wisdom of maturity.

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Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥

”He grew more and more enamoured of his own beauty, more and more interested in the corruption of his own soul.”

I think I must have been about fifteen when I read “The Picture of Dorian Gray” for the very first time and I was totally blown away by it. There was this book, written in such a beautiful way, using such colourful and flowery language and there were those three amazing characters that made me feel and wonder and question their lives and decisions!

You might say that up until I picked up “The Picture of Dorian Gray” I was as innocent as Dorian himself. I didn’t know that there were books like that out there, that there actually existed morally grey characters, corrupted characters, book characters that felt like real people and could make you question their behaviour. It was an entirely new world for me and I was totally fascinated by it.

So I read this book and I savoured every sentence, I devoured its wisdom and got lost in its pages! Looking at it in retrospective I think that Oscar Wilde actually was the first writer who didn’t only make me love classics but also the first author that ignited my undying love for villains and complex characters. And for that I’ll always be grateful!

I don’t know how often I read this book by now (goodreads your count doesn’t even get close to the actual number *lol*), but no matter how often I already read it, I’m still captivated by it. My fifteen year old me loved it as much as my 31 year old me does and if you ask me that’s exactly what makes a good classic. ;-) I’m sure I’ll never get tired of reading this book and I’ll always discover new things about it. And I genuinely hope that many other people will read it as well. It’s definitely worth it! ;-)

The characters:

Warning: You are now entering the gallery of “Spoilery Spoilers” and since this is one of my all-time faves I’ll probably end up writing an entire essay about it. If you prefer to stay innocent you better leave before my spoilers get to you and corrupt your soul! ;-P

Dorian Gray:

”It held the secret of his life, and told his story. It had taught him to love his own beauty. Would it teach him to loathe his own soul?”

Dorian Gray! I don’t even know where to start! I love his character to bits and pieces and he’s definitely one of the most intriguing book characters I ever had the pleasure to read about. At the beginning of the book he’s so innocent and naïve and I totally agree with Lord Henry when he says that this is charming. Dorian definitely is a charming character! He’s beautiful and pure and whenever I read the beginning of the book I get a sudden urge to protect him against everything that’s going to happen over the course of those 256 pages! He’s like a child that gets corrupted by the bad influence of others and when I write this I really mean it! Even at his worst he still seems to retain that innocent outlook at things. I mean he was corrupted and tainted by Lord Henry, and he ends up corrupting and tainting his friends but despite all of this he still wonders why they have become like that. He’s completely oblivious to his own role in their downfall and when Basil confronts him with it, he doesn’t believe him. He is convinced that his friends could have done the right thing and that his influence on them isn’t as strong as Basil claims it to be. What is even more intriguing is that Dorian actually wants to be good! There’s a part of him that’s still innocent and hopes that he can be redeemed, but there’s also that other side of him that whispers that he’s entitled to do whatever he wishes to do. It’s obvious that he’s fighting an inner struggle and that he seems to have lost his way. It’s the century old question every person has to ask her/himself. Do I want to be good? And even more important: Can I resist being bad? It’s so easy to do the wrong thing and it’s so tough to do what’s right. I mean that’s the main reason why actors and role-players love to be the baddies! Being bad is fun, it gives you a lot of freedom and if you’re good at it the consequences never catch up to you. ;-P So Dorian constantly finds himself at a crossroads. Will he do the right thing or is he going to give into his bad side? Is his bad side truly that bad? Is having a little fun with his friends and to indulge in pleasure wrong or is it just a part of being human? The fate of Dorian Gray makes you think and it involuntarily causes you to face your own demons and weaknesses. It ultimately causes you to acknowledge your own vices and fears. In short: It makes you pause and forces you to ponder your own life-choices! And this is nothing but awesome! XD

”I want to be good. I can’t bear the idea of my soul being hideous.”

”He felt that the time had really come for making his choice. Or had his choice already been made? Yes, life had decided that for him – life, and his own infinite curiosity about life. Eternal youth, infinite passion, pleasures subtle and secret, wild joys and wilder sins – he was to have all these things. The portrait was to bear the burden of his shame: that was all.”

”I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them and to dominate them.”

”He was prisoned in thought. Memory, like a horrible malady, was eating his soul away.”

Lord Henry:

”You seem to forget that I am married, and the one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties. I never know where my wife is, and my wife never knows what I am doing.”

Ahh Lord Henry! How much I love that bastard! *lol* He’s quite literally the devil in this book. He’s the person that stirrs Dorian’s soul! He’s the man who leads him down that dark road and just like Dorian he is completely oblivious to the magnitude of his influence! Yes, he knows that he’s corrupting Dorian, he even finds pleasure and joy in it, but throughout the entire book he never truly realizes how much his words actually changed him! How much damage they did to his soul! Lord Henry is the kind of character you just got to love. Arrogant, intelligent, wise, self-confident, brutally honest and completely unapologetic about his inappropriate behaviour. It’s no wonder Dorian is so fascinated by him and isn’t only willing but also eager to spend his time in his company. Lord Henry is basically the embodiment of temptation and young and innocent Dorian wants to be seduced! And honestly, who wouldn’t be drawn towards a character like Lord Henry? I swear he says the wisest things and vocalizes the most accurate statements regarding society! He’s exactly the kind of devil you’d love to have on your shoulder! Plus there’s so much truth in his words that it hurts! XD

”I make a great difference between people. I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their good intellects. A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies.”

”I like persons better than principles, and I like persons with no principles better than anything else in the world.”

”We are punished for our refusals. Every impulse that we strive to strangle broods in the mind, and poisons us. The body sins once, and has done with its sin, for action is a mode of purification. Nothing remains then but the recollection of a pleasure, or the luxury of a regret. The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.”

Basil Hallward:

”When I like people immensely I never tell their names to anyone. It is like surrendering a part of them. I have grown to love secrecy.”

If Lord Henry is the devil on Dorian’s shoulder then Basil certainly is the angel that sits on his other side. The painter functions as Dorian’s consciousness and as long as they know each other he always appeals to his good side and tries his best to sway him on a righteous path. He’s clearly the counterweight to Lord Henry’s corruption, but unfortunately he doesn’t have a lot of leverage. Well, at least not as much as Harry does! I mean the saying: “Come to the dark side, we got cookies” exists for a reason, right? ;-P In the end Dorian can’t stand his bad conscience any longer and does the only thing that’s seemingly able to liberate him. He kills Basil in order to silence his remorse and regrets, but what he didn’t expect is that this dark deed makes him feel even more tainted and guilty. So in the end Basil’s death only increased his sense of guilt and caused him to feel even more haunted. In my opinion the murder of Basil is the final nail in Dorian’s coffin and from that moment on he couldn’t be saved anymore.

”You were the most unspoiled creature in the whole world. Now, I don’t know what has come over you. You talk as if you had no heart, no pity in you.”

The relationships:

Dorian Gray & Basil Hallward:

”He won’t like you the better for keeping your promises. He always breaks his own. I beg you not to go.” Dorian Gray laughed and shook his head.
“I entreat you.”
The lad hesitated, and looked over at Lord Henry, who was watching them from the tea-table with an amused smile.
“I must go, Basil,” he answered.

And this is the key moment! The very first time Dorian Gray finds himself at a crossroads and choses the wrong path. You gotta love Oscar Wilde for the subtle intensity of this scene! There’s nothing extraordinary or special about it, yet it’s still the first choice that leads Dorian down his dark descent. It’s unagitated, ordinary and so very powerful! It’s obvious Basil loved Dorian and when I talk about love here, I’m talking about true love and not just friendship. He’s infatuated with him and basically worships the young and innocent Dorian. After he realises what Dorian has become, it’s already too late for him though. Poor Basil, if he would have known what his picture would make of Dorian, if he would have known how much Lord Henry’s negative influence would change his innocent and pure friend….

”One has a right to judge of a man by the effect he has over his friends. Yours seem to lose all sense of honour, of goodness, of purity. You have filled them with a madness for pleasure. They have gone down into the depths. You led them there.”

”There was nothing evil in it, nothing shameful. You were to me such an ideal as I shall never meet again. This is the face of a satyr.”
“It is the face of my soul.”
“Christ! what a thing I must have worshipped! It has the eyes of a devil.”
“Each of us has Heaven and Hell in him, Basil,” cried Dorian, with a wild gesture of despair.

Dorian Gray & Lord Henry:

”Words! Mere words! How terrible they were! How clear, and vivid and cruel! One could not escape from them. And yet what a subtle magic there was in them!”

Okay, and here comes the moment when I say that Lord Henry and Dorian Gray are in love with each other. *lol* It’s so freaking obvious!! They are fascinated by each other, they are besotted with each other and they want to spend every free moment in each other’s company! So yeah, there’s that! I think their dynamic and their interactions are very interesting and to me it seems like Lord Henry is some sort of catalyst. He’s the impulse that changes Dorian’s soul, he’s the first person who opens Dorian’s eyes and tells him that he’s beautiful. Oscar Wilde uses him as his tool to initiate Dorian’s monumental change. Which is kind of interesting, if you consider that Oscar Wilde was gay. It feels like Dorian’s and Henry’s relationship is wrong and I’m not even sure if Wilde was aware of that? I mean yes, their friendship led Dorian into the abyss of his soul, which is pretty obvious if you ask me, but there’s some subtle note about their “relationship”. It’s like deep down Oscar Wilde thought that it was wrong to have intense feelings for another man. And if you consider the time in which this was written it’s not surprising that he might have felt that way. Lord Henry represents Oscar’s sins and vices and it becomes quite apparent that some small part of him might have bemoaned his sexual orientation. In contrast to Wilde no one holds Dorian Gray to account though. He gets away with all of his sins and in the end this eventually causes him to destroys himself! What a moral punchline! XD

”Talking to him was like playing upon an exquisite violin. He answered to every touch and thrill of the bow…”

”Yes,” continued Lord Henry, “that is one of the great secrets of life – to cure the soul by means of the senses, and the senses by means of the soul. You are a wonderful creation. You know more than you think you know, just as you know less than you want to know.”

”The moment I met you I saw that you were quite unconscious of what you really are, of what you really might be. There was so much in you that charmed me that I felt I must tell you something about yourself. I thought how tragic it would be if you were wasted.

"You know how a voice can stir one. Your voice and the voice of Sibyl Vane are two things that I shall never forget. When I close my eyes, I hear them, and each of them says something different. I don't know which to follow."

”The soul is a terrible reality. It can be bought, and sold, and bartered away. It can be poisoned, or made perfect. There is a soul in each one of us. I know it.”


This book is a gem! It’s perfection and so quotable that I could probably highlight each and every single passage! No matter how often I read it, there is always something new I didn’t notice before! I still wonder and guess about certain characters and “The Picture of Dorian Gray” still causes me to think. The writing style is so beautiful I can’t help but fall in love with it. I fall in love with this book over and over again. Every time I read it I love it even more and I’m sure that I will adore this masterpiece until I’m wrinkled and old.

Oscar Wilde drags us into the dark depths of the human soul, and once you get there you don’t want to return to the surface anymore.

That’s what this book is. <333

Barry Pierce

So I read all of Wilde's plays a couple of years ago but for some reason I never read this at the time. This is probably the number one most requested book for me to read. So I read it. Are ya happy now!? ARE YA!?

I really rather enjoyed this. Well, obviously. I mean, did you honestly think I wasn't going to like The Picture of Dorian Gray? It's by Oscar Wilde for fuck's sake. His prose is like spilled honey flowing across a wooden table and waterfalling onto the floor beneath. The viscous liquid flowing slowly over the edge. His plot, perfectly paced, moves slowly as we wade deeper and deeper into Dorian Gray's maniacal life. Over the edge we go as everything goes wrong, there's death, there's pain, there's long conversations about art. We hit the floor as we finish and we see nothing but sweetness amassing around us as we escape from Wilde's prose. Putting the book down you see the light has hit the stream and it glows and it shines and it sparkles and you stand there mesmorised by what you're witnessing and you put the book back on your shelf and feel sorry for the book you read next.

So, yeah, it's good.

Sean Barrs

I finished reading this last night, and afterwards I spent an entire hour staring into space so I could contemplate over the majesty of this work. It left me speechless. This book is exquisite; it is an investigation into the human soul, the power of vanity and the problems of living a life with not a single consequence for your actions. It’s truly powerful stuff.

It begins with a simple realisation, and perhaps an obvious one. But, for Dorian it is completely life changing. He realises that beauty is finite. It won’t last forever. It’s like a flower, temporary and splendid. So if you’re a young man whose appearance is your singular quality, then this is some damn scary news. People only want to be with you because you’re attractive and charming; they want to be near you, and with you, for your looks only.

So when that goes what do you have left?


No friends.

No love.

Only age.

So what do you do? How do you retain your singular quality? Well, the answer is simple, you copy Doctor Faustus (The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus) and sell your soul to the devil!

"How sad it is!" murmured Dorian Gray with his eyes still fixed upon his own portrait. "How sad it is! I shall grow old, and horrible, and dreadful. But this picture will remain always young. It will never be older than this particular day of June. . . . If it were only the other way! If it were I who was to be always young, and the picture that was to grow old! For that -- for that -- I would give everything! Yes, there is nothing in the whole world I would not give! I would give my soul for that!"


And this is where the real depravity begins. Dorian’s world has no consequences. Everything he does is attributed to the painting, everything. Any regret or malice leaves him quickly and is transferred to the canvas. So he can’t technically feel emotion for an extended period of time; thus, his attitude becomes one of nonchalance. He becomes a shell, an emotionless creature who can only seek his sin: vanity. He surrounds himself with beauty. His house is full of art, brilliant music and every luxury known to man. You name it. Dorian’s got it. Only through seeking new experiences, these pleasures, can Dorian’s being remain animated. I intentionally used the word “being” for Dorian’s body no longer harbours his soul; it’s in the painting. Everything he does is for his own indulgence; he just doesn’t care what affect his presence has on others. The prefect moment is all he lives for.

“I don't want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.”

The character of Dorian Gray is an interesting study because he is representative of many things. He shows how a seemingly pure soul can be corrupted if it’s left in a sense of privation and given terrible guidance. Also he is suggestive of the Victorian ideal of the perfect societal image. One must be respectable at all times, and have all the appropriate airs and graces. But behind closed doors, or perhaps even a curtain, anything goes. He is suggestive of the hidden evils of Victorian society as behind the mask was many dark things. For example, the Empire and colonialism to the Victorians was a wonderful thing; it built wealth and structure, but in reality it destroyed culture and subjected peoples to slavery. The same things can be said of child labour, the exploitation of women and terrible working conditions. Everything exists behind a veil of grandeur, and this is no less true for Dorian.

The homosexual suggestions are practically ground-breaking. Wilde wasn’t the only Victorian author to suggest such things. Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde can be read in a similar vein, but Wilde was much more explicit. It’s not cryptic; it’s just plain homosexual lust for all to see on the part of Basil and (perhaps?) even Sir Henry later on. It’s still rather horrific that Wilde was actually arrested for homosexual acts. Silly Victorians. The novel also shows that despite being corrupted to such a degree, to commit murder in such a terrible sense, Dorian (the Victorian man?) isn’t beyond all redemption. He can still come back from his deeds and end it all. The ending was perfection. This has great allegorical meaning.



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Elyse Walters

This is the first time I've read this classic book....but I've loved Oscar Wilde for as long as I can remember.

There is much to take away from this book. Themes exploring shallowness, selfishness, superficiality, hedonism, morality, and flaws of life and being human.

The dialogue is witty and humorous.
Oscar Wilde had great insights on beauty....
I love this quote:
"But beauty, real beauty, ends where an intellectual expression begins. Intellect is in itself a mode of exaggeration, and destroys the harmony of any face. The moment one sits down to think, one becomes all nose, or all forehead, or something horrid. Look at the successful men in any of the learn professions. How perfectly hideous they are!
Except, of course, in the Church. But then in the Church they don't think. A bishop keeps on saying at the age of 80 what he was told to say when he was a boy of eighteen, and as a natural consequence he always looks absolutely delightful".

Very reflective read....a little like looking into a mirror!


I should probably admit that most of what I thought I knew about Dorian Gray came from pop culture references. In my defense, I'm actively trying to branch out and read more than comics and trashy romance novels, but it's slow going and I've got a lot of catching up to do.
Shockingly, I didn't bother to read the blurb, and it turns out this was a bit more complex than I thought it would be.


Point is, I had no idea it was about gay dudes!
And I'm always thinking that the guys in classic novels seem kinda gay, but then everyone tells me no, men were just more sensitive back then, and I just sorta pretend to believe them and we all go on about our day.
But there's no way that's the case here.


Anyway, I said that to say this: this book was waaaay more interesting than I thought it was going to be when I first decided to read it.
I mean, having to hide that you're in love with someone is awful no matter what the reason, but potentially getting tossed in the clink and having your life ruined because people think it's wrong is a whole other level of horrible.
Poor Basil! My heart just went out to that guy! He was so decent and so sweet. And yet somehow his love for Dorian, so pure it created a painting that seemed to capture the essence of Dorian's soul, became twisted by Lord Henry's influencing Dorian to desire youth and beauty above all else.
Enter the wacky Crayola curse!


And the really sad thing was that Dorian wasn't evil in the beginning. Selfish and silly, yes. But not truly bad. Which made watching him slip slowly at first, then eventually plunge headlong into villainy, even more tragic. The longer you live the easier it is to see what a slippery slope life can be, and how one bad choice left uncorrected can lead to far worse things.


The only one who escaped relatively unscathed was the instigator, Henry.
And isn't that just the way it always goes?
There's always that fucking asshole who sets shit into motion and then steps aside to watch everyone else flail around in the mess they've created.
Albeit, this time around it was a bit of a supernatural mess...


This is one of the few classics that I've found to be meaty, interesting, and still has characters that ring true.
Loved it!

This is the cover of the audiobook I listened to which was published by Author's Republic and narrated by John Gonzalez. <--if you see this version, swerve to avoid!


I've had great luck in general with classic audiobooks, but this was the exception to the rule. It seemed to me as though the narrator almost stumbled over words sometimes, and beyond that, the reading was just sort of off.