Picture of Dorian Gray: The Whole Story

Picture of Dorian Gray: The Whole Story

by Oscar Wilde, Tony Ross


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Celebrated novel traces the moral degeneration of a handsome young Londoner from an innocent fop into a cruel and reckless pursuer of pleasure and, ultimately, a murderer. As Dorian Gray sinks into depravity, his body retains perfect youth and vigor while his recently painted portrait reflects the ravages of crime and sensuality. Mesmerizing tale of horror and suspense ranks among the classic achievements of its kind. Note. Prefaces.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780670894956
Publisher: Viking
Publication date: 04/23/2001
Series: Whole Story Series
Pages: 268
Product dimensions: 6.90(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.75(d)
Age Range: 15 Years

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

THE studio was filled with the rich odour of roses, and when the light summer wind stirred amidst the trees of the garden, there came through the open door the heavy scent of the lilac, or the more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn.

From the corner of the divan of Persian saddle-bags on which he was lying, smoking, as was his custom, innumerable cigarettes, Lord Henry Wotton could just catch the gleam of the honey-sweet and honey-coloured blossoms of a laburnum, whose tremulous branches seemed hardly able to bear the burden of a beauty so flame-like as theirs; and now and then the fantastic shadows of birds in flight flitted across the long tussore-silk curtains that were stretched in front of the huge window, producing a kind of momentary Japanese effect, and making him think of those pallid jade-faced painters of Tokyo who, through the medium of an art that is necessarily immobile, seek to convey the sense of swiftness and motion. The sullen murmur of the bees shouldering their way through the long unmown grass, or circling with monotonous insistence round the dusty gilt horns of the straggling woodbine, seemed to make the stillness more oppressive. The dim roar of London was like the bourdon note of a distant organ.

In the centre of the room, clamped to an upright easel, stood the full-length portrait of a young man of extraordinary personal beauty, and in front of it, some little distance away, was sitting the artist himself, Basil Hallward, whose sudden disappearance some years ago caused, at the time, such public excitement, and gave rise to so many strange conjectures.

As the painter looked at the gracious and comely form he had so skillfullymirrored in his art, a smile of pleasure passed across his face, and seemed about to linger there. But he suddenly started up, and, closing his eyes, placed his fingers upon the lids, as though he sought to imprison within his brain some curious dream from which he feared he might awake.

'It is your best work, Basil, the best thing you have ever done,' said Lord Henry, languidly. 'You must certainly send it next year to the Grosvenor. The Academy is too large and too vulgar. Whenever I have gone there, there have been either so many people that I have not been able to see the pictures, which was dreadful, or so many pictures that I have not been able to see the people, which was worse. The Grosvenor is really the only place.'

'I don't think I shall send it anywhere,' he answered, tossing his head back in that odd way that used to make his friends laugh at him at Oxford. 'No: I won't send it anywhere.'

Lord Henry elevated his eyebrows, and looked at him in amazement through the thin blue wreaths of smoke that curled up in such fanciful whorls from his heavy opium-tainted cigarette. 'Not send it anywhere? My dear fellow, why? Have you any reason? What odd chaps you painters are! You do anything in the world to gain a reputation. As soon as you have one, you seem to want to throw it away. 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. A portrait like this would set you far above all the young men in England, and make the old men quite jealous, if old men are ever capable of any emotion.'

'I know you will laugh at me,' he replied, 'but I really can't exhibit it. I have put too much of myself into it.'

Lord Henry stretched himself out on the divan and laughed.

'Yes, I knew you would; but it is quite true, all the same.'

'Too much of yourself in it! Upon my word, Basil, I didn't know you were so vain; and I really can't see any resemblance between you, with your rugged strong face and your coal-black hair, and this young Adonis, who looks as if he was made out of ivory and rose-leaves. Why, my dear Basil, he is a Narcissus, and you--well, of course you have an intellectual expression, and all that. 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 learned 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 eighty what he was told to say when he was a boy of eighteen, and as a natural consequence he always looks absolutely delightful. Your mysterious young friend, whose name you have never told me, but whose picture really fascinates me, never thinks. I feel quite sure of that. He is some brainless, beautiful creature, who should be always here in winter when we have no flowers to look at, and always here in summer when we want something to chill our intelligence. Don't flatter yourself, Basil: you are not in the least like him.'

'You don't understand me, Harry,' answered the artist. 'Of course I am not like him. I know that perfectly well. Indeed, I should be sorry to look like him. You shrug your shoulders? I am telling you the truth. There is a fatality about all physical and intellectual distinction, the sort of fatality that seems to dog through history the faltering steps of kings. It is better not to be different from one's fellows. The ugly and the stupid have the best of it in this world. They can sit at their ease and gape at the play. If they know nothing of victory, they are at least spared the knowledge of defeat. They live as we all should live, undisturbed, indifferent, and without disquiet. They neither bring ruin upon others, nor ever receive it from alien hands. Your rank and wealth, Harry; my brains, such as they are--my art, whatever it may be worth; Dorian Gray's good looks--we shall all suffer for what the gods have given us, suffer terribly.'

'Dorian Gray? Is that his name?' asked Lord Henry, walking across the studio towards Basil Hallward.

'Yes, that is his name. I didn't intend to tell it to you.'

'But why not?'

'Oh, I can't explain. 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. It seems to be the one thing that can make modern life mysterious or marvellous 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 daresay, but somehow it seems to bring a great deal of romance into one's life. I suppose you think me awfully foolish about it?'

'Not at all,' answered Lord Henry, 'not at all, my dear Basil. 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. When we meet--we do meet occasionally, when we dine out together, or go down to the Duke's--we tell each other the most absurd stories with the most serious faces. My wife is very good at it--much better, in fact, than I am. She never gets confused over her dates, and I always do. But when she does find me out, she makes no row at all. I sometimes wish she would; but she merely laughs at me.'

'I hate the way you talk about your married life, Harry,' said Basil Hallward, strolling towards the door that led into the garden. 'I believe that you are really a very good husband, but that you are thoroughly ashamed of your own virtues. You are an extraordinary fellow. You never say a moral thing, and you never do a wrong thing. Your cynicism is simply a pose.'

'Being natural is simply a pose, and the most irritating pose I know,' cried Lord Henry, laughing; and the two young men went out into the garden together, and ensconced themselves on a long bamboo seat that stood in the shade of a tall laurel bush. The sunlight slipped over the polished leaves. In the grass, white daisies were tremulous.

After a pause, Lord Henry pulled out his watch. 'I am afraid I must be going, Basil,' he murmured, 'and before I go, I insist on your answering a question I put to you some time ago.'

'What was that?' said the painter, keeping his eyes fixed on the ground.

'You know quite well.'

'I do not, Harry.'

'Well, I will tell you what it is. I want you to explain to me why you won't exhibit Dorian Gray's picture. I want the real reason.'

'I told you the real reason.'
'No, you did not. You said it was because there was too much of yourself in it. Now, that is childish.'

'Harry,' said Basil Hallward, looking him straight in the face, 'every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter. 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.'

Lord Henry laughed. 'And what is that?' he asked.

'I will tell you,' said Hallward; but an expression of perplexity came over his face.

'I am all expectation, Basil,' continued his companion, glancing at him.

'Oh, there is really very little to tell, Harry,' answered the painter; 'and I am afraid you will hardly understand it. Perhaps you will hardly believe it.'

Lord Henry smiled, and, leaning down, plucked a pink-petalled daisy from the grass, and examined it. 'I am quite sure I shall understand it,' he replied, gazing intently at the little golden white-feathered disk, 'and as for believing things, I can believe anything, provided that it is quite incredible.'

The wind shook some blossoms from the trees, and the heavy lilac-blooms, with their clustering stars, moved to and fro in the languid air. A grasshopper began to chirrup by the wall, and like a blue thread a long thin dragon-fly floated past on its brown gauze wings. Lord Henry felt as if he could hear Basil Hallward's heart beating, and wondered what was coming.

What People are Saying About This

Richard Ellman

His wit is an agent of renewal.

Richard Ellmann

He is not one of those writers who as the centuries change lose their relevance. Wilde is one of us. His wit is an agent of renewal, as pertinent now as a hundred years ago.

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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.