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The Picture of Dorian Gray (Penguin Clothbound Classics)

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9780141442464: The Picture of Dorian Gray (Penguin Clothbound Classics)
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Part of Penguin's beautiful hardback Clothbound Classics series, designed by the award-winning Coralie Bickford-Smith, these delectable and collectible editions are bound in high-quality colourful, tactile cloth with foil stamped into the design.

Enthralled by his own exquisite portrait, Dorian Gray 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 decadence. The novel was a succès de scandale and the book was later used as evidence against Wilde at the Old Bailey in 1895. It has lost none of its power to fascinate and disturb.

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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:

This is the classic story of Dorian Gray, beautiful and narcissistic, who sells himself for eternal beauty and youth, while his portrait changes with time, reflecting his aging and the evil in his soul. Intellectual snobbery, cynicism, irony, class differences, and philosophizing 'youth is the only thing worth having' are all explored in this rather dark novel, which is lightened with some witty dialog. Accomplished British stage, television, and movie actor Greg Wise's wonderful interpretation of the story subtly voices the characters and varies the tempo and mood so that even the lengthy descriptive passages come alive. And the musical interludes here are appropriate and pleasant. Adults who are familiar with the story will love Wise's performance... --Sue Rosenzweig, SoundCommentary.com

Dorian Gray is one of Wilde's most iconic characters, referenced consistently in any number of contemporary art forms. Loyal to this tradition, Greg Wise offers a timeless narration of this audiobook. His classic British voice elegant and erudite moves languidly between formally proper and ironic. Wise is the quintessential narrator of this type of novel; his laconic style and resonant voice work well with the text. At times, whether due to Wilde's nuanced prose or the moments when Wise's consistent tone becomes too hypnotic, the effect can be too smooth, too subtle, offering an almost monotonous result. However, those interested in immersing themselves in an oft-alluded-to text will find those moments inconsequential and the recording well worth hearing. --Audio file, Jan'17

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

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

Featured Edition

ISBN 10: 0486278077 ISBN 13: 9780486278070
Publisher: Dover Publications Inc., 2000
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Penguin, 2003
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