Picture of Dorian Gray (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

Picture of Dorian Gray (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)


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The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

Oscar Wilde brings his enormous gifts for astute social observation and sparkling prose to The Picture of Dorian Gray, his 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, enchanting, obsessing, even corrupting readers for more than a hundred 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 only 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.

Camille Cauti, Ph.D., is an editor and literary critic who lives in New York City. She is a specialist in the Catholic conversion trend among members of the avant-garde in London in the 1890s.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593081751
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 10/01/2004
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Pages: 248
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

The ever-quotable Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was an Irish playwright, novelist, essayist, and poet who delighted Victorian England with his legendary wit. He found critical and popular success with his scintillating plays, chiefly The Importance of Being Earnest, while his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, scandalized readers. Imprisoned for two years for homosexual behavior, Wilde moved to France after his release, where he died destitute.

Date of Birth:

October 16, 1854

Date of Death:

November 30, 1900

Place of Birth:

Dublin, Ireland

Place of Death:

Paris, France


The Royal School in Enniskillen, Dublin, 1864; Trinity College, Dublin, 1871; Magdalen College, Oxford, England, 1874

Read an Excerpt

From Camille Cauti's Introduction to The Picture of Dorian Gray

Perhaps the most salient episode of Wilde's life involved his three infamous court trials in spring 1895. They captivated the London press, much of which was only too happy to see Wilde, of whom it had long been jealously suspicious, debased and finally punished for his alleged crimes and for daring to live outside Victorian social convention. The first trial, in early April 1895, involved the author's libel suit against his lover Douglas's father, the Marquess of Queensbury (before the trials, he was most famous for formulating the Queensbury rules of boxing). Angry over Wilde's alleged influence upon his son, Queensbury accused Wilde in a note of being a "posing somdomite" (sic). Queensbury's defense attorney even presented The Picture of Dorian Gray as an immoral, perverted book and as one of the fifteen pleas for justification of his client's claim (although the justice at Wilde's next trial chose not to rule Dorian Gray as evidence of Wilde's crimes). Thus the novel took on yet another role: involuntary accomplice to Wilde's accuser. The libel suit was not resolved in Wilde's favor, and during the proceedings Queensbury's defense provided enough potential evidence of homosexuality to have Wilde tried under the Criminal Law Amendment Act. Friends and associates urged Wilde to flee the country, as other homosexuals on the verge of being outed had done, but whether from stubbornness of his position or in denial of his vulnerability, he remained in London and was arrested on April 5, 1895.

After two trials on charges of "committing acts of gross indecency with male persons," Wilde ultimately was found guilty and sentenced to the maximum penalty of two years in prison with hard labor. He gave eloquent testimony on the stand to the legitimacy of, as he called it, "the love that dare not speak its name," which in large part drives The Picture of Dorian Gray. Among many other definitions, Wilde declared it "that deep spiritual affection that is as pure as it is perfect. It dictates and pervades great works of art like those of Shakespeare and Michaelangelo. . . . It is the noblest form of affection." His words were rewarded, really too late, with spontaneous courtroom applause. Yet the press exulted in Wilde's demise: "The aesthetic cult," the News of the World proclaimed, "in its nasty form, is over."

The details of Wilde's final five years, spent in prison and in lonely exile, are tragic. The prison labor, which at first primarily involved operating a treadmill for the equivalent of a daily 6,000-foot ascent, physically broke Wilde. His creditors and Queensbury had forced a bankruptcy sale of his property, and his valuable, carefully collected possessions were sold and disbursed. His wife, who had sought a divorce, died in 1898. He would never again see his sons. From prison, Wilde composed, in the form of a letter to Douglas, his apologia De Profundis (posthumously published in 1905), whose Latin title means "Out of the Depths," and which takes its name and religious tenor from Psalm 130, which reads, in part: "If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared." The probing, deeply religious nature of this last work still did not bring about Wilde's Catholic conversion, however. (Douglas would convert in 1911.) Unlike John Gray, Wilde could not bring himself to use religion as a refuge from his earthly problems. Wilde's conversion instead took place within the last two days of his life, when desperate friends, the Catholic Robbie Ross among them, who had long thought Wilde insincere when he mentioned his desire to convert, brought in a local priest to gauge Wilde's assent to the conversion and to administer Last Rites.

Appropriately, Wilde's last act was an assent to a final ritual-in this case, one that symbolically sealed the senses that had dictated his life-long self-creation. Wilde's only novel, over the years many things to many people, continues to serve as a symbol of its era. After experiencing it, a reader may want nothing more than to override questions of genre and influence, when The Picture of Dorian Gray itself tells us what it has been: "the type of what the age is searching for, and what it is afraid it has found."

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The Picture of Dorian Gray 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 345 reviews.
Lark_LaVoix More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite books of ALL time. I've read it over & over. Oscar Wilde was an amazing author & master of witty sarcasm. He has a thought-provoking view on life & society.

My copy is riddled with highlighted quotes that I think perfectly sum up the quirks of human behavior. This book is a thriller, social commentary, philosophical discussion, & vocabulary lesson all in one! He can ramble at some points, but read through it because what these ramblings reveal are quite insightful. Don't be intimidated, though. It's short compared to a lot of other classics with similarly "difficult" language. Grab a dictionary, open up your mind...& you'll get a lot out of this read.
Grey11 More than 1 year ago
I had heard the theatre tale of Dorian Gray and I wanted to know the real story. Something about the Barnes and Noble book cover of the portrait of Dorian Gray made it stand out amongst the other classics. I normally don't mark my books but there were so many whitty remarks and absolute truths I had to mark them so I could tell others. The story takes place over many years but somehow didn't feel rushed and leaves you screaming for more at the end. On top of that, the most interesting thing about the way Wilde writes this story is that he never really tells you what sins the character is guilty of, thus making you fill them in yourself. How wicked is your soul's own thoughts? Definately a buy and keep!
PiggityPig More than 1 year ago
I read the 13 chapter version, and then the 20 Chapter version. Never, ever read the 13ch version, it is dull and flat. The 20 version, the version we know now, is so much more provacative. While I would still recommend Frankenstein as a philosophical text of this, Dorian Gray makes you question within yourself the forces of hedonism and puritanism. The continual fight between Hedonism and Puritanism is still one we must struggle with today, and with both sides refusing to take a middle ground, Dorian Gray remains an important text.
love-2-readJT More than 1 year ago
I started to read this book because I had wanted to read as many of the classics and I could bear through. The Picture of Darian Grey really fooled me. I thought it would be ho-hum until I stated to read it. What a lesson about life. How very often we do away with someone who really loves us to get along with someone who just wants to use us......and we are too in love with ourselves to know or admit we made a mistake till it is too late. Oscar Wilde was a terrific writer.
CScottMorris More than 1 year ago
This ebook was poorly converted, and is riddled with errors. Find another free copy...
Tamara87 More than 1 year ago
I was first captured by this book by Oscar Wilde's wonderful use of language. Although many of his characters are rotten and dirty at the core, they are still very eloquent and every line could be a thought provoking quote. Even the narrations are equally eloquent. Aside from the language, the story is wonderful and I really enjoyed reading the book, as it is the only novel written by Oscar Wilde. If you enjoy the classics, you better not skip this one...and if you don't: still pick this one up from B&N, you will not be disappointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book for a project in one of my english classes in high school. I loved it. The dialogue is great, the story is awesome, and I was always wondering what happened next. I recommend it!
Glass-Cannon More than 1 year ago
Good read but tends to drone on at times
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why are the same books listed numerous times and at differing cost?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book has a great plot, as well as many lessons learned.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The errors take away from the book, thoughit is good
BastilleDay More than 1 year ago
Good book club "classic"
cdeuker on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm not sure I have the right edition. In any event, the radio version I listened to was very well done. I had no trouble following which character was speaking because of a judicious use of narrators and frequent use of a character's first name as characters talked to one another. Neither of these seemed obtrusive.
Sean191 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An eerie and exciting story. There's a lot of subtext to the work and worth reading over. I'm not sure, it may be Wilde's only true novel... if so, it's too bad he didn't write more of them.
theokester on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I knew relatively little going into this book...and what little I did know was from less than 100% accurate retellings such as in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or references from cheesy shows or horror flicks (I think perhaps there was a reference in Scooby Doo somewhere?). I had the basic gist...there's a guy, Dorian Gray, who has some magical painting that ages while he stays young and wonderful forever. Not much to go on, but I was still excited to read it. I was pleasantly surprised that the book had much more depth to it.PlotThe plot is intriguing and has been used in other stories, though I think this one has more depth than I've seen before. Essentially, Dorian makes a wish that he will be forever as pristine as the painting made of him and that instead the painting will take on it the toils of his life. Whatever supernatural forces allow this to happen are irrelevant...the wish is granted.It's more than a simple "young forever" contract. Although age plays into the plot in a couple of places, the primary things that distorts the picture are the vices that Dorian engages in. The first transformation of the painting happens after an intense argument with the first woman he loved. It was interesting to me how quickly Dorian recognized the cause of the change for what it was, but had he belabored the motive for too long, the pacing of the book would have stalled and become unacceptable.Dorian uses his "power" to be ruthlessly reckless in his living. Dorian Gray becomes entirely uninhibited, taking everything to its limit, seeking absolute pleasure. He even sneaks out at night (so as not to tarnish his pristine reputation) to the "bad side of town" and lives a sort of double life in opium dens with gangs and prostitutes.In many ways (perhaps because I so recently read it), I felt many similarities to the morale commentary presented in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I felt that Wilde did a better job of delving into the psyche of the hypocritical character, largely because we were able to get into Dorian's head and think and feel with him, while in Jekyll/Hyde, we were kept at a distance by a third person narrative.CharactersThere are three pivotal characters in this book. The first, obviously, is Dorian himself. For the first many chapters (perhaps nearly the first half of the book in fact), I wasn't terribly pleased with Dorian as a character...he felt very flat to me. He was basically a mirror to one of the other primary characters (Harry) and didn't ever show his own opinion. He was hailed as pure and beautiful. Perhaps it's all the art references in the book, but I often felt as if Dorian existed more as a classical statue than as a living, breathing character. As his interaction with the 'picture' progresses and once he takes some rather unexpected steps, he became a deeper character and a lot of fun to be with.The second primary character is Lord Harry (or was it Henry...blast those Brits for swapping those names interchangeably so often *grin*). Harry exists as the provocative, cynical, always-with-a-comment-about-anything mentor to Dorian. Harry is absolutely encouragable and a lot of fun to listen to. His speeches often have to do with the pursuit of pleasure at any and all costs and the hazard of a virtuous and peaceful life. His influence over Dorian is profound. As I mentioned above, it often felt as if Dorian existed merely as a mirror for Harry's advice. Harry didn't seem to follow all of his own advice, but Dorian took it readily to heart and strove to live a 'come-what-may' existence. Harry had some of the funniest and most profound comments of the entire narrative. He's a fabulous character.The third character I want to point out actually existed as more of a background character, but I feel the need to call him out merely because of his pivotal involvement in the plot. I actually can't even remember his name now...but it will s
caklr650 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A clever quip every page! Actually very enjoyable except for that horrid Chapter XI.
crazy4reading on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wow is all I have to say about The Picture of Dorian Gray. I didn't think I would like this book and I was pleasantly surprised with this book. This is the first book I have ever read by Oscar Wilde.The writing in the book was wonderful. The characters words just flow like music as you read the book. I found myself not wanting to put the book down as I was reading. Dorian, Lord Henry and the Artist Harry interact so well with each other. There is a different relationship between all 3 of them and to see the relationships change through the book was enthralling.The ending of the book was quite a surprise to me. When I read it I laughed at how well written the story was and the fact that I never realized the ending until the very last second.I can't wait to read more books written by Oscar Wilde!!
MandaTheStrange on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The most exquisitely written book that I have ever read. I can not fault it. Wilde writes with such grace and eloquence. At times he writes so vividly one feels as if they are right beside Dorian Gray at one of his many soirees, as he is listening to the malicious whispers of Lord Henry, plunging the knife into Basil's throat and finally facing the true horror of his soul in the form of a portrait.The Picture of Dorian Gray is a hauntingly reminiscent tale of the human conscience. Wilde does not hold back upon the darkness that inhabits the human mind, of what we are truly capable of without our soul. It is one of those books that absolutely must be read. It has given me a greater understanding of life and it is a story I will always remember.
drewfull on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While I understand the allegorical importance of the meticulous brushstrokes with which Wilde paints the details of his portrait of Dorian Gray and his language is certainly elegant, there's making a point, then there's overkill, then there's beating a dead horse, then there's roughly 50 pages of this book driving home the same point. Great central conceit, certainly worth reading for Gray's descent into madness, but a bit much.
weakley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was dissapointed in this book. I guess I was expecting more about the macabre aspect of the aging painting and less....bitchy arguments between egos who were besotted with each other. It devolved into a series of two person scenes, which consisted of non-stop mutual admiration and lightly hidden ( maybe ) homosexuality. The murder was the only point during which the story became interesting. Unfortunately it was wrapped up in haste and really didn't add a lot into the overall arc. Maybe this one just wasn't meant for me.
EmaNoella on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Basil Hallward, a remarquable painter, has finally found his best seater, Dorian Gray, a charming, modest and handsome young man. The finished product is found to be so beautiful that the sincere Gray is jealous of his own youth and wishes more than anything in the word to stay as young as he appears in the painting, selling his soul to the devil.With the help of Lord Henry Wotton, the once so wonderfully thought of boy is now the black sheep of the society; no one wanting to have anything to do with him, and inexplicably the boy keeps his young and innocent features.A very worthy read indeed, this book is smart and opens your mind to the worthiness of beauty and how prejudice affects us all. His descriptions are impeccable and characters frank and charming. The authors approach to homosexuality is discreet and yet very present which is very surprising in a novel written in the ninetieth century.
Steve777 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fascinating book, exploring how ones motives and soul interact with ones surroundings.
stephxsu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Oscar Wilde is the man. Besides for being chock-full of good quotes, The Picture of Dorian Gray is also simply an interesting idea, a quick but great read, and a must-read in every literate person's lifetime.
gbill on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wilde¿s Faustian tale of a young man who expresses the desire to sell his soul in order to stop aging and to live a hedonistic life, where the effect of aging as well as his debauchery take place on his portrait, instead of him. It¿s an interesting concept for a story and on top of that Wilde is of course an incredibly sharp wit, so Dorian is enjoyable.Quotes:On the mind-body connection:¿That is one of the great secrets of life ¿ to cure the soul by means of the senses, and the sense by means of the soul.¿On experience:¿As it was, we always misunderstood ourselves, and rarely understood others. Experience was of no ethical value. It was merely the name men gave to their mistakes.¿On joy in small things:¿¿a chance tone of colour in a room or a morning sky, a particular perfume that you had once loved and that brings subtle memories with it, a line from a forgotten poem that you had come across again, a cadence from a piece of music that you had ceased to play ¿ I tell you, Dorian, that it is on things like these that our lives depend.¿On old age:¿We degenerate into hideous puppets, haunted by the memory of the passions of which we were much too afraid, and the exquisite temptations that we had not the courage to yield to¿¿And:¿The only people to whose opinions I listen now with any respect are people much younger than myself. They seem in front of me. Life has revealed to them her latest wonder. As for the aged, I always contradict the aged. I do it on principle. If you ask them their opinion on something that happened yesterday, they solemnly give you the opinions current in 1820, when people wore high stocks, believed in everything, and knew absolutely nothing.¿On parenthood:¿Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.¿On youth:¿What was youth at best? A green, and unripe time, a time of shallow moods, and sickly thoughts.¿
whitewavedarling on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a haunting story that you'll be drawn to despite yourself. Watching the character transform both horrifies and fascinates, and by the end, you might easily have found that you've read the book through in a single sitting. If you enjoy gothic literature, ghost stories, or tales such as Frankenstein, you'll enjoy this one. The criticism here, also, is fairly accessable, and better written than the articles I've read in plenty of other Norton anthologies.