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The Picture of Dorian Gray

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Oscar Wilde’s only novel is the dreamlike story of a young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty.

In this celebrated work Wilde forged a devastating portrait of the effects of evil and debauchery on a young aesthete in late-19th-century England. Combining elements of the Gothic horror novel and decadent French fiction, the book centers on a striking premise: As Dorian Gray sinks into a life of crime and gross sensuality, his body retains perfect youth and vigor while his recently painted portrait grows day by day into a hideous record of evil, which he must keep hidden from the world. For over a century, this mesmerizing tale of horror and suspense has enjoyed wide popularity. It ranks as one of Wilde's most important creations and among the classic achievements of its kind.

272 pages, Paperback

First published June 1, 1890

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About the author

Oscar Wilde

6,718 books33k followers
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish playwright, poet, and author of numerous short stories, and one novel. Known for his biting wit, and a plentitude of aphorisms, he became one of the most successful playwrights of the late Victorian era in London, and one of the greatest celebrities of his day. Several of his plays continue to be widely performed, especially The Importance of Being Earnest.

As the result of a widely covered series of trials, Wilde suffered a dramatic downfall and was imprisoned for two years hard labour after being convicted of "gross indecency" with other men. After Wilde was released from prison he set sail for Dieppe by the night ferry. He never returned to Ireland or Britain, and died in poverty.

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Profile Image for Scoobs.
71 reviews179 followers
July 21, 2008
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."


Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,113 reviews44.5k followers
March 14, 2022
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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Profile Image for Stephen.
1,516 reviews11k followers
December 4, 2013
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.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,965 reviews294k followers
January 27, 2019
"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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85 reviews27 followers
December 4, 2013
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!

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for chai ♡.
321 reviews153k followers
August 8, 2022
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 am clever enough, gay enough, and dramatic enough to earn the approval of the ghost of Oscar Wilde
Profile Image for Ruby Granger.
Author 2 books45.7k followers
March 15, 2021
2021 - I re-read this for university and loved it even more the second time round... Lord Henry is a paradigmatic sophist and his epigrams are delightful (partly because it's easy to forget that he is more rhetoric than truth). The connection between youthful appearance and character is also so fascinating, especially since Wilde is writing at the end of the century where physiognomy is an outdated science. What does it mean to be young? And can innocence ever be restored?

2017 - If you haven't already, you HAVE TO read this! Wilde delves into the cartesian dualist debate, asking us to question where the self truly does reside (and contradicting the popular Victorian idea of physiognomy). In his personal Fall and descent into sinfulness I saw similarities with H.G. Wells's 'The Invisible Man' where sin thrives simply because the individual cannot be held accountable. Similarly, the debate about the value of art is intriguing and, after reading this, I recommend reading Poe's 'The Oval Mirror' because, again, there are definite similarities.
Profile Image for Barry Pierce.
560 reviews7,446 followers
June 29, 2015
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.
Profile Image for Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥.
532 reviews34.5k followers
May 25, 2019
”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
Profile Image for Nayra.Hassan.
1,260 reviews5,386 followers
October 28, 2022
بسهولة شديدة يستحيل البياض سواد لكن كم هو صعب إعادة البياض لقلب اسود مختوم بالمعاصي..مفتون بالاثام..كقلبك يا دوريان♥
هذا وجهه سمح و ملامحه وضاءة تشع نور
و هذا وجهه فظ غليظ خشن حجب نوره

هل وجوهنا تحمل اثامنا؟
هل تجاعيدنا =خطايانا
بالطبع لا☆ و الا لما كان في اللغة تعبيرات مثل و أسفر عن وجهه. .او اماط اللثام عن ملامحه الحقة.. فالشيطان جميل دوما

هل تعبر ملامحنا عن صفاتنا ؟
بمرور الزمن..نعم..لهذا كلنا نخاف مرور الزمن..و بصماته التي يتركها حول العيون المبتسمة دوما..او الجباه العابسةللابد ..لكن تظل العيون مرآة الروح..فقط لمن أجاد قراءتها

هناك من يلبس قناعه فور استيقاظه و يجيد إخفاء وجهه الحقيقي لسنوات..و هناك من يضع جرائمه و جحوده و سفالاته في دولاب مغلق..و لكن لابد و سيأتي يوم و يتم فتحه..فهل سيتحمل ما سيراه؟؟

قرأتها في سن 18 وظل الجدل الذي اثارته في نفسي حاضرا حتى راجعتها في سن 30
من الكلاسيكيات الواجب قراءتها في سن مبكرة. .في سن الجمال والشباب..و من افضل مائة رواية باللغة الإنجليزية

لا يخطر على بالك للحظة واحدة ان كلنا دوريان جراي..ابدا ..نعم كل منا لديه دولابه المغلق على ما ستره الله عليه ..لكننا نحمل اخطاءنا في قلوبنا و عقولنا..لا مهرب في وجود الضمير

اختلف انا مع اوسكاروايلد في حياته ومبادئه واسلوبه بل وكثير من اعماله ولكن مع دوريان الامر يختلف.. فهي مرآة جيدة لنقاط ضعف هامة بالنفس البشرية..ولم تكن لتحوز هذا القدر من الاهتمام لوكانت بطلتها إمرأة
Profile Image for Anne.
3,924 reviews69.3k followers
January 14, 2022
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.
Profile Image for emma.
1,822 reviews48.7k followers
December 9, 2021
Books like this are why I love classics. They may be old as hell, but in another, much more real way, they never get old.

We as a society will never outgrow the need for a beautifully written book about being hot and evil.

End review.

Bottom line: Valiantly resisting the urge to make this book my entire personality.


"To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable."

and who says the classics aren't relatable.

review to come / 4 stars

currently-reading updates

nice eternal youth and beauty you got there. i sure hope you don't descend into mortal sin with it

clear ur shit prompt 4: a book people talk about
follow my progress here
Profile Image for PetraX living the city life.
2,430 reviews34.2k followers
March 4, 2023
Possessing eternal youth and beauty produces exactly the same effect as sentencing a man to life without the possibility of parole. Both have nothing to lose and morals disappear before the desire for immediate self-gratification in all things. And so it is with Dorian Gray. It's a moral story so eventually his evil catches up with him and he dies, as does the criminal.

Is Oscar Wilde saying that it is man's essential nature, to be so internally psychopathic and selfish that so long as he can keep his reputation he will wreak havoc on people's lives and not care in the process of enriching his own?

Oscar Wilde was a man who held some very nasty views and only cared when extremely similar ones were turned upon himself. (He was imprisoned for homosexuality, but felt it was ok for Dreyfus to be imprisoned on trumped-up crime of murder but really because he was Jewish. He chose the wrong side on that one and lost even his best friend and was out of step with almost the whole of Britain). I don't like the author, but I do love his prose.

I read this book years ago. But the psychological story of a man's realisation that there are no consequences to his actions, nothing is forbidden, everything is permitted, you never forget.
Profile Image for هدى يحيى.
Author 8 books16k followers
April 25, 2022

ما هو أبشع كابوس تخيلته في حياتك؟
ما الذي تراه أصعب شيء يمكن أن تتعرض له

ماذا لو استطعت تجميع كل خطاياك و تخبئتها في مكان سري لا يعلمه ‏سواك

ماذا لو استطعت أن تنفض يدك عن أي جريمة ارتكبت‏
وأي شر اقترفت

ماذا لو استطعت تحقيق المستحيل
وضمنت الخلود..؟؟

وماذا لو كان ذلك المكان السري هو وجهك الذي نحته فيلسوف فنان ‏على الورق..‏

وماذا لو كان بإمكانك رؤية جميع مفاسدك تتجلى يوما بعد يوم على ‏وجهك الكامل الجمال في عيون الكل



ما رأيك يا دوريان في قول المسيح
ماذا يستفيد الإنسان لو خسر روحه وربح العالم أجمع؟
‎ ‎
هذا هو ملخص الرواية في نظري

الرواية المعتقة بالفلسفة

‏ الرواية المدهشة والمخيفة وكاشفة خبايا النفس البشرية‏‎ ‎

يعري فيها وايلد -لا النفس البشرية فقط بل المجتمع الإنكليزي بأكمله
وزيف من كان يطلق عليهم الطبقات النبيلة

إنها كاشفة لكلل ما هو خاوٍ بريقه خادع
فور ما تقترب منه يتكشف لك الخواء والسطحية ‏والأنانية

والرواية تترك منبهرا
فمك مفتوح على أخره في شهقة لا صوت لها


ربما من أسباب عشقي لأوسكار وايلد هي قدرته الفذة على الخيال
وقدرته على الإتيان بأفضل العبارات إدهاشا
في عمقها وفلسفتها وسخريتها
أكثر بكثير في رأيي من شو أو مارك توين

دوريان جراي كان العمل الأول الذي أقرؤه لهذا العقل اللامع
ومن يومها أدمنته

Profile Image for Henry Avila.
458 reviews3,240 followers
June 5, 2023
"A face without a heart", so said Shakespeare in Hamlet, but it applies to the portrait of Dorian Gray even better.... When the young gentleman Dorian Gray from a wealthy aristocratic family in Victorian England, has his picture completed something is missing, Basil Hallward, the painter senses it and insists that no one sees his greatest work, except a few people ... The witty Lord Henry Wotton, Dorian's soon to be best friend seems amused, a shy artist! All three are fascinated by the painting, discussing it at length in Mr.Hallward's house. The lord is a notorious man, with a well- deserved evil reputation, warned by many to stay away from him. Nevertheless Gray's a lonely orphan, needs excitement in his dreary life, Wotton tells Dorian to have fun while he is still young, it will not last long. Mr.Gray has good looks, and like a moth to a flame the boy can't resist. Dorian wishes that the portrait ages while he remains young, as time goes by, Dorian would give his soul for this, Lord Henry laughs at the oath, strangely his request is fulfilled shortly afterwards. Dorian meets a beautiful seventeen- year- old actress, both fall madly in love, later the nervous Sibyl Vane, gives a really bad performance in front of Gray , and his two friends, Wotton, Hallward, the young gentleman is crushed , and so disappointed he leaves her. Sibyl then kills herself, James her brother had pledged to destroy anyone who harms his sister, he will cause Mr.Gray much concern subsequently. The wicked lord tells the distraught youth to forget about it, "Eternal youth, infinite passion, pleasures subtle and secrets, wild joy and wilder sins". All this and only the picture to show its evil, a great bargain Dorian feels. Rumors abound about Dorian, they the people look at his face and see only purity, Gray continues his hedonistic life, murder , another suicide and a killing results ... In a locked, quiet, dark room upstairs at his home, where the curious Mr.Gray keeps the painting, it Grotesquely Changes, whenever more wickedness is committed by the owner. The ugly side of Dorian, only he sees... Later into the shadows , Dorian goes to get opium, he wants salvation through drugs, blackout his memories but gloom is everywhere, a thick atmosphere of foreboding, intense desperation and immense helplessness, prevails. Reaching for something, that will save his poor soul, make him feel worthwhile that life has some meaning, is all lost? A mournful torrent rushes Dorian forward always forward, into the abyss, the darkness, the endless unknown regions, next oblivion? The light is going out, Dorian must face his destiny, he couldn't escape himself ...
Profile Image for Jim Fonseca.
1,086 reviews7,013 followers
June 1, 2019
Even if we haven’t read the book everyone knows the plot. A painter paints a portrait of a beautiful young man. The portrait ages while he keeps his beauty. But the portrait also reflects his evil, not just aging, but turning eventually into a portrait of a devil.

There are thousands of reviews so I’ll just copy the next paragraph from the GR book blurb:

Written in his distinctively dazzling manner, Oscar Wilde’s story of a fashionable young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty is the author’s most popular work. The tale of Dorian Gray’s moral disintegration caused a scandal when it first appeared in 1890, but though Wilde was attacked for the novel’s corrupting influence, he responded that there is, in fact, “a terrible moral in Dorian Gray.”


The various nuggets of philosophy and thoughts and acerbic wit that the author intersperses throughout are a pleasure to read. Just a few examples:

On a painter’s 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.”

“The ugly and the stupid have the best of it in this world.”

About a hostess introducing her guests: “She either explains them entirely away, or tells one everything about them except what one wants to know.”

“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.”

“Words! Mirror words! How terrible they were! How clear, and vivid, and cruel!… Mere words! Was there anything so real as words?”


“Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul.”

[She] is so dreadfully dowdy that she reminded one of a badly bound hymn-book.”

[of an uncommunicative old man] “…he had said everything that he had to say before he was 30.”

“He was always late on principle, his principle being that punctuality is the thief of time.”

“Men marry because they are tired; women, because they are curious: both are disappointed.”

“…his guardians, who were extremely old-fashioned people and did not realize that we lived in an age when unnecessary things are our only necessities…”

Here are three vicious descriptions just going around a single dinner table:

A woman with “…the remains of a really remarkable ugliness.”

A man who is “…one of those middle-aged mediocrities so common in London clubs who have no enemies, but are thoroughly disliked by their friends…”

A man who “…like so many of his class, was under the impression that inordinate joviality can atone for an entire lack of ideas.”


In his short life (1854-1900) Wilde was part of the movement called aestheticism – “art for art’s sake,” not for its deeper meanings. Wilde’s brief preface give us his ‘manifesto,’ bits of which are:

“To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim…Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated…There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all…All art is at once surface and symbol…It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors…All art is quite useless.”

I should also say that the edition I read, 2018 by Read Books Ltd., had two errors in dates on the cover blurb. Does it matter? Not really, but it makes you wonder what else is sloppy inside the text.

Top image from wikipedia
London street around 1900 from cloudfront.net
The author from thedailybeast.com
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews54 followers
January 17, 2020
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!
Profile Image for Dr. Appu Sasidharan (Dasfill).
1,157 reviews2,196 followers
October 1, 2022

Oscar Wilde tells us the story of Dorian Gray, who was obsessed with beauty and youth. His narcissistic obsession with beauty made him trade his soul for eternal youth.

I think this is one of those few novels that was the topic of many Psychological studies. The morality aspect of this novel has been a topic of discussion for more than a century now. This is a book that the celebrities of our generation should undeniably read. It shows the plight of unnecessary obsession that will destroy our soul and conscience.

The philosophy in this novel will make you contemplate for a long time. This is one of those novels that you should never miss.

"Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul."
Profile Image for Lisa of Troy.
405 reviews3,553 followers
April 25, 2023
“I loved you because you were marvelous, because you had genius and intellect, because you realized the dreams of great poets and gave shape and substance to the shadows of art.”
- The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde

Wow! This book can really mess with your head.

Let’s start off by my confession. Most people won’t describe this book in these terms, but it’s my review, and this is my take….

The Picture of Dorian Gray is about a young man named Dorian Gray. He is exquisitely good looking, and his friend, Basil Hallward, paints Dorian’s portrait. In walks, Lord Henry Wotton, Harry, who convinces Dorian that youth is everything, and Dorian wishes that his portrait would grow older while he could retain his youth.

Lord Henry is an extreme narcissist, and his conversations with Dorian are riveting. There are so many quotable quotes, and the discussion of his philosophy is highly intriguing. He essentially views anything honorable as horrible and boring.

Although the book is The Picture of Dorian Gray, the book really belongs to Lord Henry. He is far from a perfect character, but he is definitely not boring.

Tip: Audible has a version of this for free!

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October 6, 2010
The Picture of Dorian Gray is a hard book to review. After reading such eloquent, beautiful, and rich writing, I am at a loss for how to command my comparatively paltry ability to use words to express how I felt about this book.

Forgive me as I go back to AP English for a few moments. I asked myself what were the themes of this novel. Here is my list:

The triumph on senses over reason

I will attempt to build my review, in part, around the discussion of these themes.

Dorian Gray was a flawed man who was essentially empty inside. He was very young when this story began, seemingly full of potential. Sadly, he invested all his sense of worth in his external beauty, doing little to grow the inner man; unless you consider his descent into depravity, discovering more and more excesses for the meaningless value of those experiences (since his mentor Lord Henry taught him that experience has no value), yet he was strangely curious as to how they would affect the portrait of his soul. He was not quite a tragic figure, because I could not feel sorry for him. He had made this horrible decision (and I believe he had opportunities to repent of it, which he didn't take), but he chose never to take responsibility for himself. Which leads to the next theme.

As I said above, I could feel no sympathy for Dorian Gray. Why? Because he never took responsibility for his actions. Being accountable for one's own actions is a crucial aspect of self-development, at least in my humble opinion. If a person cannot do that, they are doomed to eternal immaturity. This was Dorian's fate. It was Basil's fault for painting the picture. It was Sybil's fault for being a bad actress, and making him fall out of love with her. All the people he ruined in his relentless pursuit of pleasure and debauchery ruined themselves. He took no part in their ruination. Ultimately, he even blamed the picture, and sought to destroy it as the only true evidence of his black soul. I feel like this: If you're going to be a bad, selfish person, own up to it. Don't try to act like your sins should be laid at other people's feet. That was the route the Mr. Dorian Gray took.

Lord Henry was the man who opens Dorian's eyes to the fact that the only thing he has to his advantage is the beauty of his youth, that he should enjoy life while he is young enough to experience it fully. He states that experience is not a teacher, and that men don't learn from the mistakes they make as they live. Your experiences don't count for anything. It seemed to be a self-fulfilling prophecy for Dorian Gray. Instead of realizing how his selfish, shallow actions could hurt and destroy others, he never did do that. He merely went from one fixation to the other, marking the effects on the portrait that he guarded jealously. In the end, there was no value to what he experienced. He was just wasting time (in my opinion).

The triumph of sensation over reason
Dorian Gray became a voluptuary, lost in sensations. He didn't focus on becoming a learned person, only experiencing what he encountered in his pursuits, wallowing in those sensations; until he grew bored, and moved onto the next one. Lord Henry seemed like a good mentor. A man who appeared so intelligent, with a saying for everything. A witty, entertaining man, who had a reputation for saying utterly wicked things. But he wasn't a deep man. He didn't believe what he said. It was an image that he projected for lack of anything else to do as an aristocrat who had no need to work for a living. Dorian Gray took this as gospel, and took it to the next level. As a result, it made his life utterly meaningless. Sadly, his friend Basil, who was a fairly wise person, was dismissed, and made fun of by Lord Henry. I almost felt like Basil and Lord Henry were the warring aspects of Dorian's conscience, at times.

What is beauty? I tend to think it's a double-edged sword. We are all attracted to things that are beautiful, that have a physical appeal. But, should we be content with merely a comely appearance, while the inside is rotted? Dorian Gray was a man of such unearthly beauty that people could not believe he was capable of the debauchery he had committed. Those who didn't heed the warnings given to them, came to rue it. Basil, who painted the young Dorian's fateful picture, couldn't accept that Dorian had become such a horrible person. What a sad fate that was for Basil.

I felt several things as I read this book: interest, curiosity, disgust, sadness, and ultimately, a sense that justice had been done, in a very strange, but fitting way.

One thing that became very apparent to me as I read this novel, was Oscar Wilde's considerable wit. I imagine he was quite entertaining to be around.

In the preface, Oscar Wilde says that all art is meaningless. What was he trying to say with this story? Nothing?

I have trouble believing that. This was a novel I couldn't dismiss and treat as mere brain candy. There was some message there that hammered away at my brain. I do believe that Mr. Wilde hints at the subjective nature of art (which includes literature). I think that we could all read the same story and take away different things from it. Our brains are so very different, and the pathways are nurtured and developed by our various experiences, and our own values. So, that we will all come away from viewing a picture or reading a story with a hand-tailored message. Maybe that's what he means by saying that an artist strives not to be present in his work. Instead, it is a mirror reflecting the viewer. That makes sense to me, actually.

What message did I come away with?

At the end of the day, I believe that Dorian Gray led a worthless life. His eternal youth counted for nothing. He never grew as a person, and he used the bounteous gifts he'd been given selfishly. He did horrible things that made it even worse. He was lucky in that he didn't live long enough to count the full cost of those actions. He allowed the portrait to take the weight of those sins intead of letting them rest where they belonged. If anything really bothers me as a person, it's the thought of my time on this earth being wasted. Never having accomplished anything of value. For that reason, I found Dorian Gray to be a very sad man, but I could not feel sorry for him.

So, is this a horror novel, you might ask?

I think this is a thinking person's horror novel. It is a study of how the sins we commit cannot be hidden, even if we lie to ourselves about that. Interestingly enough, Mr. Wilde does not elaborate on what vile acts Dorian committed. We are left to our own expansive imaginations to surmise the bulk of what he'd done. Some people don't believe in such a thing as sin. If you don't believe in sin, how could it have a cost? It didn't matter that Dorian Gray didn't acknowledge his sins. They caught up with him in the end. The horror is how he confronted the consequences of his sins, yet turned away from them, locking that manifestation away in the attic to view with a detached sort of curiosity. The horror is the lives he destroyed, but never felt more than a moment's remorse. Fundamentally, Dorian Gray was an angelically beautiful monster. The horror is that we can look upon beauty, and we can be fooled into never asking what lies beneath it.
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,167 reviews98.2k followers
August 12, 2020

“Some day, when you are old and wrinkled and ugly, when thought has seared your forehead with its lines, and passion branded your lips with its hideous fires, you will feel it, you will feel it terribly.”

So, I wanted 2018 to be the year that I try to get back into classics! In the past, I’ve found some of them daunting to read, or just too boring to ever feel invested in. But I feel like The Picture of Dorian Gray was the perfect start.

Beautiful art by saku-chann on Tumblr

I originally was going to give this three stars, because I enjoyed it enough, but was never too invested. I felt annoyed at how these characters were so obviously not straight. I mean, a vast majority of this book is about Dorian taking a wife. Meanwhile, every man in this book just has full page monologues telling Dorian how beautiful he is. And then I sat down to do my review, and I started doing my research.

It’s no secret that Oscar Wilde was a gay man. Hell, he was even jailed for his sexuality, and died soon after from all the inhumane injuries he endured while in prison. All three major male character in this book read very… not straight. My friend, Destiny, told me that a lot of readers in the Horror circles make strong arguments that Dorian is in fact pansexual, which makes me happier than I can express with words. Yet, I can’t help but think about parallels with this book that Wilde crafted about “secret sin” and how it mirrored his life and perhaps his sexuality that he ultimately died for.

You guys, I have no words. In the 1880s people thought homosexuality was some disease, something to be cured, something not okay to simply just be. Something that was a criminal act. Something that Oscar Wilde was jailed and forced to do hard labor for. And once you start seeing the similarities between Wilde’s life and the events that take place in this book, you will realize that like The Picture of Dorian Gray is so much more important that the surface value of just reading this story.

Okay, I do suppose I should tell you about the story now. This is a tale that centers around three men that live in an upper-class London society:

➽ Basil Hallward - Artist who befriends Dorian because he is obsessed with his beauty and lives his life painting many portraits of him, but more importantly, he paints the portrait that this story surrounds.

➽ Lord Henry Wotton - Basil's friend, which is how he meets Dorian. Henry is a manipulator that heavily influences Dorian with his views about what is important in life.

➽ Dorian Gray - Our main character, who starts out so young, innocent, and impressionable. He later is harboring a major secret and will stop at nothing to hide this secret and the events that lead him to this secret.

“There are only two kinds of people who are fascinating - people who know absolutely everything and people who know absolutely nothing.”

In this book, the value of appearance is heavily touched upon. Youth and beauty seem to be everyone’s priority. It’s scary and sad how much this also mirrors 2018. There is also a huge discussion to be had about good versus evil and how we view that grey area in-between. Yet, these discussions are held in this seamlessly woven story.

Overall, I really enjoyed it and it was able to evoke a lot of emotion from me. More importantly, I recommend you all to read My dear friend Navessa’s review, which ended up evoking even more emotion from me. She linked this article, which then made me weep. Again, this story is so much more than a paranormal painting, and a man trying to hide secrets. This is a masterpiece and my heart will forever break thinking about this story.

Trigger/content warnings: death, murder, suicide, and a ton of misogynistic comments.

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Buddy read with Dani! ❤
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
797 reviews3,640 followers
April 4, 2023
Forever young. I want to be forever young

Warning, contains spoilers and bad anti aging tips that might ruin one's complexion

Do you really want to live forever?
Well, together with all the others, why not? Besides faith, similar weird pro death ideologies, and stuff, nobody wouldn´t like to live until whatever comes after this edition of the universe with the big freeze, rip, bang, or rebirth by a black hole. But it can also be quite

Lonesome on the immortality front
For instance, if all the others would still age while one stays young. From a sociopathic or dark empath perspective, this wouldn´t seem that bad. One should probably camouflage oneself with makeup to seemingly age, to not let others get too suspicious regarding bathing in the blood of virgins that wasn´t extracted by harmless and consensual blood donations, selling one's soul to the devil, and sacrificing humans to the flying spaghetti monster or whatever one is into fetishizing to get kinky style aroused. Without proper aging style, this could lead to

Envious people ruining a show that could go on for a very long time
If this would be the only front, it could be easy to handle. But of course, poor, weak ephemeral flesh embedded, human minds, souls, and other questionable and theoretical constructs, just can´t handle the pressure of seeing the manifestations of one's true age in a not so flattering painting. Then paranoia and other mental issues kick in and the whole thing tends to go

Towards psychological gothic horror
That combines the fear of death, evil forces, psychiatric disorders, and some historical fun facts about the society of the Victorian era. The snobby elites with all the decadence and superficiality are contrasted with Dorian slowly drifting towards insanity. While the aging Dandys (seemingly every age has to have a hilarious hipster equivalence for people addicted to manifesting their narcissistic personality disorders with second hand embarrassment creating styles) keep pimping hard, poor Dorian gets more and more problems with

Handling his OCD tendency to take a short glimpse
That might be a breach of contract. And if already human lawyers are a pain in some body regions, imagine what a literally hellish contract may include. All in all, together it´s one of the best classic novels of all time, combining social satire with dark elements and the big questions of life and death and thereby immortalizing the ingenuity of Oscar Wilde.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.7k followers
August 6, 2021
(Book 809 from 1001 books) - The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray is a philosophical novel by Oscar Wilde, first published complete in the July 1890 issue of Lippincott's Monthly Magazine.

The Picture of Dorian Gray begins on a beautiful summer day in Victorian era England, where Lord Henry Wotton, an opinionated man, is observing the sensitive artist Basil Hallward painting the portrait of Dorian Gray, a handsome young man who is Basil's ultimate muse.

While sitting for the painting, Dorian listens to Lord Henry espousing his hedonistic world view, and begins to think that beauty is the only aspect of life worth pursuing.

This prompts Dorian to wish that the painted image of himself would age instead of himself. ...

تصویر دوریان گری - اسکار وایلد انتشاراتیها (کانون معرفت؛ مهرگان، دبیر؛ کمانگیر، جمهوری، جاوید، هزاره نو، آموزش و سنجش، جامی کمانگیر، نگاه، همشهری، افق، نشر علم) ادبیات، تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه ژوئن سال 1987میلادی

عنوان: تصویر دوریان گری؛ شاهکار: اسکار وایلد؛ تهران، کانون معرفت، 1327، در 108ص موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان ایرلند - سده 19م

عنوان: تصویر دوریان گری؛ شاهکار: اسکار وایلد؛ مترجم: رضا مشایخی (فرهاد)؛ تهران، کانون معرفت، 1344، در 295ص

عنوان: تصویر دوریان گری؛ شاهکار: اسکار وایلد؛ مترجم: داریوش شاهین؛ تهران، مهرگان، 1353، در 429ص

عنوان: تصویر دوریان گری؛ شاهکار: اسکار وایلد؛ مقدمه: آندره موروا؛ علی دشتی؛ مترجم: رضا مشایخی؛ تهران، کمانگیر، 1363، در 339ص

عنوان: تصویر دوریان گری؛ شاهکار: اسکار وایلد؛ مترجم: همایون نوراحمر؛ تهران، جمهوری، 1366، در 408ص

عنوان: تصویر دوریان گری؛ شاهکار: اسکار وایلد؛ مترجم: همایون نوراحمر؛ تهران، دبیر، جاوید، 1369، در 407ص

عنوان: تصویر دوریان گری؛ شاهکار: اسکار وایلد؛ مترجم: حبیب گوهری راد؛ تهران، هزاره نو، 1383، در 323ص، شابک 96439289232؛

عنوان: تصویر دوریان گری؛ شاهکار: اسکار وایلد؛ مترجم: لیلی فردهی؛ تهران، آموزش و سنجش، 1388، در 208ص، شابک9786005177183؛

عنوان: تصویر دوریان گری؛ شاهکار: اسکار وایلد؛ مترجم: همایون جوانمردی؛ تهران، جامی کمانگیر، 1388، در 303ص، شابک9789642575644؛

عنوان: تصویر دوریان گری؛ شاهکار: اسکار وایلد؛ مترجم: ابوالقاسم تهامی؛ تهران، نگاه، 1391، در 312ص، شابک 9789643517939؛

عنوان: تصویر دوریان گری؛ شاهکار: اسکار وایلد؛ مترجم: حسین زمانی؛ تهران، همشهری، 1391، در 61ص، شابک 9789642412044؛

عنوان: تصویر دوریان گری؛ شاهکار: اسکار وایلد؛ مترجم: محسن سلیمانی؛ تهران، افق، 1393، در 255ص، شابک 9789643698690؛

عنوان: تصویر دوریان گری؛ شاهکار: اسکار وایلد؛ مترجم: رویا منجم؛ تهران، نشر علم، 1393، در 280ص، شابک 9789642243204؛

رمان گوتیک، فلسفی، و شاهکار «اسکار وایلد»، نویسنده ی مشهور اهل «ایرلند» است؛ «اسکار وایلد»، با نگارش این رمان، و البته نمایشنامه «اهمیت ارنست بودن»، به شهرت جهانی رسیدند؛ «تصویر دوریان گری»، به سبب تازگی موضوع، و شاید به سبب آنکه چهره ی خود نویسنده را، می‌نمایاند، آوازه ای بزرگ یافت؛ «وایلد» با این اثر تمثیلی، خواسته اند نشان دهند «همچنانکه هر قطره‌ ای در دریا، به مروارید ویژه، تغییر شکل می‌دهد، در عالم هنر نیز، هرچه وارد شود، به زیباترین تبدیل می‌گردد»؛

این رمان در سال 1890میلادی نوشته شده؛ یعنی ده سال پیش از درگذشت «اسکار وایلد» بزرگوار؛

هشدار: «اگر خود میخواهید کتاب را بخوانید از خوانش ادامه ی این ریویو خودداری کنید.»؛

دوریان گری، نام جوانی خوش‌ سیما، و برازنده‌ است، که تنها، به زیبایی و لذت پایبند است؛ و پس از آنکه دوست نقاشش، از او پرتره ای در کمال زیبایی، و جوانی میکشد، با دیدن آن پرتره، از اندیشه ی گذشت زمان، و نابودی جوانی و زیبایی، در اندوهی ژرف فرومی‌رود، پس در همان لحظه، آرزو می‌کند، که چهره ی خودش، پیوسته جوان و شاداب بماند، و در عوض گذشت زمان و پیری و پلیدی‌ها، بر تصویر او، به پرتره ی او منتقل شود؛ پس از مدتی، متوجه می‌شود، که آرزویش برآورده شده؛ ولی یکی از دوستان او، به نام «لرد هنری»، کم‌ کم او را به راه‌های پلید می‌کشاند، و تصویر دوریان گری، در پرتره، به مرور، پیرتر، پلیدتر، و کریه تر می‌شود؛ «دوریان گری»، به مرور، تا جایی پلید می‌شود، که نخستین قتل خود را، انجام می‌دهد، و نقاش پرتره ی خویش «بسیل هاوارد» را می‌کشد؛ او با گذشت زمان، هر روز چهره ی خود را، در پرتره اش فرسوده‌ تر، و پیرتر می‌بیند، اما راهی برای از بین بردن پلیدی‌ها، پیدا نمی‌کند، ناگهان خشمگین می‌شود و چاقوی بلندی را در قلب مرد درون تصویر در پرتره، فرو می‌کند؛ در همان لحظه، مستخدمان صدای جیغ کریهی می‌شنوند، و به سوی اتاق «دوریان گری» می‌شتابند؛ آن‌ها تصویر ارباب خویش را، در بوم نقاشی می‌بینند، که در کمال جوانی و زیبایی است، آنچنانکه خود هماره آن پرتره را می‌دیدند، اما بر زمین، جسد مردی نقش بسته است، در لباسی آراسته، و کاردی در قلب، با پلیدترین و کریه‌ ترین چهره ی قابل تصور؛ که تنها از انگشترهایی که به دستش بود، می‌شد هویت او را شناخت...؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 11/06/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 14/05/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for jessica.
2,535 reviews32.7k followers
November 29, 2018
‘behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.’

and boy, this story was an exquisite tragedy. wilde admits that the books which the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame. and this is one of the most immoral books i have ever read.

this is a story about the loss of innocence, of revelling in sin and debauchery, and everything in between. but its also an examination of the human soul, its struggle with vanity, and a life lived without any sort of accountability. and whilst dorian realised that physical beauty is finite, the beauty of this story is not.

the complex characters, multifaceted plot, relevant messages, and elegant writing are what make this a powerful and timeless masterpiece.

so i will take an immoral story over a moral one any day. because its the exquisite tragedies that prompt the best introspection and show us the most accurate picture of ourselves.

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Antje ❦.
66 reviews37 followers
June 4, 2023
I could spend the rest of my life reading this book OVER AND OVER AGAIN and it wouldn't be enough 💔💔
October 4, 2022
My views about the story 😊

Taking my poetic liberty :P

It is,
a story of gothic fiction,
a story of avarice for eternal beauty and eternal youth,
a story of how outside-influence, good or bad,
can swerve the direction of an innocent-naive-life,
a story of jealousy in love,
a story of debauchery, narcissism and hedonism,
a story of fight between appearance and reality,
a story which edifies- to be accountable for your own choices, keeping all distractions at bay!
a story of a yellow book and aestheticism,
It is a story of a lovely, withering portrait,
which finally re-gains the lost charm, after exterminating, the rapacity and evil! 😊


Surface-level Plot Synopsis 😊-

A painter, Basil, confides in his friend, Henry, about his, undying obsession and adulation , for his muse, Dorian.

Dorian, a quintessence of youthful beauty, upon seeing his own portrait, falls into narcissism. Miraculously, his wish for eternal youth is granted- instead of Dorian, his portrait starts ageing, displaying cruelty, corruption, and bloating, but his own face stays young and innocent. Things never remain constant, and begin to fall apart. He hides the painting in an attic, to hide his own truth !!!!! In doing so, lot of devilish ghoulish things, come into play - manipulation, blackmail, murder, opium, suicide, revenge, and much more…..

The Extended Plot summary 😊–

The Picture Of Dorian Gray, is heavily magnificent on atmospheric-appeal and character-personification!

The novel begins with a preface comprising of epigrams/aphorisms, from Oscar Wilde, on the purpose of art, and role of the artist, claiming all beauty is useless, and art is purposeless.

“To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim”
“There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. “
(I personally found this dubious and debatable!)
“All art is quite useless.”

The novel opens with a heavy-atmospheric appeal , in the studio of the lamenting, reputable painter, Basil Hallward, who is working on finishing a portrait of “young man of extraordinary personal beauty” (Dorian Gray)- “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”.
Henry Wotton, his friend, basking in the adulation of Basil for Dorian’s beauty, charm and grace, persuades Basil to meet Dorian.

Basil, is overwhelmed with his muse (Dorian), both professionally and personally. Basil is simpleton, but jealous & protective for his love for his muse. On the other hand, Henry is extremely confident, rich, cynical, strongly opinionated, acerbic, astute, judgemental, with an admirable acumen for phrasing his philosophical opinions (which strongly influences the listener)!!!!!

Lord Henry, it the star-champ of the story, and is the driver of the book, for what it is! With the attractive muse’s description and Henry’s opinions, the novel begins, foreshadowing, something ominous, in the future. ☹

Upon constant persuasion, from Henry to meet Dorian, and to Basil’s chagrin, Dorian unexpectedly turns up. The jealous Basil, strictly instructs his voluble friend, to stay away from Dorian –

"Dorian Gray is my dearest friend," he said. "He has a simple and a beautiful nature. Don't spoil him. Don't try to influence him. Your influence would be bad. The world is wide, and has many marvellous people in it. Don't take away from me the one person who gives to my art whatever charm it possesses: my life as an artist depends on him. Mind, Harry/Henry, I trust you."

Upon witnessing, Dorian’s overflowing-beauty, Henry, starts panegyrizing, while Basil continues to paint, searing with jealousy.

“All the candor of youth was there, as well as youth’s passionate purity”

Finally, when the envious Basil, asks Henry to leave, while Dorian, already smitten with Henry’s charm and swept away with his subtle influence, insists him to stay back! (The venture of outside influence playing havoc and threading the ominous-devastating future, has begun!) .

The young, naïve, immature, spoiled and sulky, Dorian, is an easy-bait for the cynical and headstrong Henry! On the revelation of Dorian’s troubled past, the strings-of-friendship between the two, grow stronger. Dorian confides in Henry, his love for the actress, Sibyl Vane, and finally gets engaged to her. With a strong influence of Henry hovering over him, he wants to impersonate Henry, and hence doesn’t want to marry the actress out of love, but with a selfish-motto of dominating, manipulating her life! (Henry’s influence has grown deep-roots in Dorian!)

James Vane, the over-protective brother of Sibyl, doesn’t approve of Dorian for her sister, and threatens to kill him “like a dog” if he harms Sibyl. Basil, is deeply saddened, upon knowing Dorian’s engagement and the change in his demeanour and feelings. Meanwhile the high-spirited Dorian, coldly and cruelly, breaks off with Sibyl, when deeply-in-love Sibyl, loses focus and performs inferiorly in a play - “You have killed my love”. Post the breakup, Dorian, notices cruelty in the face of the portrait, while his own face remains pure and innocent! He finally manifests, the wish of leading a corrupt life, without his face showing any effects, while the portrait compensates for it, by showing all ugliness and ageing. ☹

With the selfish motto of protecting the painting, he wishes to patch-up with Sibyl, unaware, she has poisoned herself, due to the agony of the breakup. Dorian, starts avoiding the “the poisonous theories” of Lord Henry, aware of his devilish influence!
Ruminating and repenting, noticing the ugly changes in the portrait, Dorian writes a long confession letter to Sibyl. But Henry informs her of her suicide, but Dorian remains unmoved with no-remorse, rather, is thrilled to realise that his first love-letter was addressed to a dead girl ! ALAS! How gross ☹
It is explicitly made clear, that Dorian, is not at all repentant, not-penitent for all his sins. The caring, decent, simpleton, Basil, visits Dorian, to console him, but is gob-smacked seeing his indifference. Dorian, shows disinterest, that he doesn’t want to talk about the “horrid subjects”. Basil, outrightly, blames Henry for all the ghoulish changes in Dorian.

Dorian, goes onto hiding the painting and its changes, and is paranoid about his servant, Victor, who has seen the painting. Dorian receives an interesting, yellow-paper book, from Henry, which he just can’t put down ( just like, I wasn’t able to put down, this book :D )

Dorian has, already embarked on leading a double life, a life of paranoia, in which he is constantly hiding the painting, and on the other hand, living a life of vanity and sin!


Stars Distribution-

There is a truck-load of tabbed quotes in this book, hand-picking few, wasn’t justified, so skipping sharing the quotes-part!

I am docking 0.5 star, due to an innocent brutal murder by Dorian (not sharing name to avoid spoiler) ☹
(I wish if Oscar Wilde, could have skipped this brutality, there is already a lot in abundance)!

Docking another 0.5 star, due to the ambivalence of one of the quotes by Oscar Wilde, in the preface, which makes me ambiguous, and perplexed! Famous authors are generally equivocal with their remarks, and the day I am able to decode the luminosity of the epigram, will add the missing 0.5 star!
“There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written.”

A well-deserving 4.0stars! 😊
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