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The Picture of Dorian Gray (Penguin Classics)

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9780141439570: The Picture of Dorian Gray (Penguin Classics)
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'A triumph of execution ... one of the best narratives of the "double life" of a Victorian gentleman' Peter Ackroyd

Oscar Wilde's alluring novel of decadence and sin was a succès de scandale on publication. It follows Dorian Gray who, enthralled by his own exquisite portrait, exchanges his soul for eternal youth and beauty. Influenced by his friend Lord Henry Wotton, he is drawn into a corrupt double life, indulging his desires in secret while remaining a gentleman in the eyes of polite society. Only his portrait bears the traces of his depravity. This definitive edition includes a selection of contemporary reviews condemning the novel's immorality.

Edited with an Introduction and notes by ROBERT MIGHALL

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Review:

A lush, cautionary tale of a life of vileness and deception or a loving portrait of the aesthetic impulse run rampant? Why not both? After Basil Hallward paints a beautiful, young man's portrait, his subject's frivolous wish that the picture change and he remain the same comes true. Dorian Gray's picture grows aged and corrupt while he continues to appear fresh and innocent. After he kills a young woman, "as surely as if I had cut her little throat with a knife", Dorian Gray is surprised to find no difference in his vision or surroundings. "The roses are not less lovely for all that. The birds sing just as happily in my garden."

As Hallward tries to make sense of his creation, his epigram-happy friend Lord Henry Wotton encourages Dorian in his sensual quest with any number of Wildean paradoxes, including the delightful "When we are happy we are always good, but when we are good we are not always happy." But despite its many languorous pleasures, The Picture of Dorian Gray is an imperfect work. Compared to the two (voyeuristic) older men, Dorian is a bore, and his search for ever new sensations far less fun than the novel's drawing-room discussions. Even more oddly, the moral message of the novel contradicts many of Wilde's supposed aims, not least "no artist has ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style." Nonetheless, the glamour boy gets his just deserts. And Wilde, defending Dorian Gray, had it both ways: "All excess, as well as all renunciation, brings its own punishment."

Review:

"Every line that Wilde ever wrote affected me so enormously." --Morrissey, musician "A heady late-Victorian tale of double-living, in which Dorian's fatal, corruptive influence over women and men alike is suggestively indistinct." --Sarah Waters, author, Fingersmith

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780486278070: The Picture of Dorian Gray (Dover Thrift Editions)

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ISBN 10: 0486278077 ISBN 13: 9780486278070
Publisher: Dover Publications Inc., 2000
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