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The Picture of Dorian Gray
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The Picture of Dorian Gray > The Picture of Dorian Gray - Final Thoughts *Spoilers*

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message 1: by Kim (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kim Here you can discuss your final thoughts on the book. I really didn't enjoy it. While not the worst book I've read, and ok enough to push it up to two stars, I really don't get what all the fuss is about. I found it boring, pretentious and pointless. Quite disappointed after hearing so much about it.


Veljko (_vxf_) | 52 comments I read it the first time in high-school. I did not like it, but, then again, I did not like almost anything I was force-fed. I picked it up years later and had somehow mixed feelings.

On one side, you have a very interesting idea at the center of the plot. On the other, I think we struggle, nowadays, to really catch much of the original appeal of the book. It was meant to shock the reader - and apparently it did, considering it was used as evidence in Wilde's trial. Yet, vague mentions of 'unspeakable acts' and the seduction-abandonment of a girl do not exactly leave us wide-eyed nowadays. I think that is something I liked about the book - seeing how much has changed in that regards. How this 'appalling hedonism' compares with what we are used to.

Despite my interest, I did not find it a pleasant read. It is, indeed, boring. But that's the fascinating part. It shook British morality back then, it makes us yawn today.


message 3: by Michael, Mod Prometheus (new) - rated it 2 stars

Michael (knowledgelost) | 1255 comments Mod
For me the book had great potential but it was overshadowed by Lord Wotton; who was too loud and dominated the entire book


Emily (robinsonem) When I think of Dorian Gray, I wonder what a painting of my own soul would look like. Would I hang it in my front room for all to see or tuck it away in a cobweb infested closet? And if at the end of every day, I looked at that painting, would I like what I saw there? I know an elderly woman who was looking in the mirror one day and remarked, "I'm an old woman. But I got there by working hard, so I'm okay with that." Dorian stayed beautiful and young, but to what purpose? He didn't do anything good with his life. I hope we all can look at ourselves when we are old and like what we see.


Booksy | 96 comments Interesting comment Emily, really enjoyed it and it made me thinking about possibilities that such portrait (and selling your soul to Devil in exchange for the eternal youth) would bring to me. I would probably consider the Devil's offer. And ... I would have so much more time to read books as I won't need to be in a hurry any more, having the whole eternity in front of me to spend to my heart's desire.
As for the book, I read it when my English wasn't too good (I lived in China at that time and spent all the time practicing Mandarin, English was a conversational language to engage with the rest of international community) and the subtleties of the descriptions were lost on me. I wanted to re-read it for our discussion, but a few controversial books we have been discussing on other forums required my attention. And we had the change of government in Queensland (that affected my work life), I know, sound like lame excuses and yet it is true.
Anyway, I thought the book's premise was quite innovative (although, I kept thinking of another book in this genre - Honore de Balzac's "La Peau de Chagrin"), but the style of writing was too long-winded and difficult for me at that time to truly appreciate it.


message 6: by Vikki (last edited Jun 05, 2012 02:02AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Vikki (vikki1) | 22 comments I was a bit indifferent to this book. Having recently studied Doctor Faustus for uni it was interesting to see another take on the Faustian legends. To me there seemed to be far to many gay undertones to many things, and the chapter where Dorian explains all he has done with the music and travelling seemed a bit over the top although I do understand why it was there.
I was scouring wikipedia reading up on the films that have been made of it and a very young Angela Lansbury played Sybil in the the 1945 version.


Amanda (amandasun) | 1 comments It seems that most people on this forum did not like this book. I loved it. I couldn't put it down. I actually can't believe I hadn't read it before now. Being a therapist, I think might have influenced my opinion of this book. I loved the relationships between Lord Henry, Basil, and Dorian as much as exploring the psyche of this narcissistic individual and its reflection on his soul (the picture). I do think you have to put the story in context of the author and the time it was written to fully appreciate the themes found in the book (aesthetics vs reality, the superficiality of soceity, the duality of human nature). All of which continue to be relevant themes, however, the expression of these themes is a reflection of the author and the time period this book was written.
I'm new to this group but look forward to hearing the opinions and thoughts of others and to see if there is anyone who found the book as interesting as I did.


Graham (giraham) | 19 comments It's been a while since I've read this but I remember being a bit let down by it. It started ok,though the second half of the book just didn't hit home with me, it felt a little stale. It wasn't awful but I'd probably of liked it more if he'd pushed his ideas a little further, sucks about the times he was living in.


Lauren (youratlass) | 11 comments I really enjoyed this. I will say that I felt as if Oscar Wilde was smacking us around with foreshadowing though...


message 10: by Wastrel (new)

Wastrel | 17 comments Veljko wrote: "I read it the first time in high-school. I did not like it, but, then again, I did not like almost anything I was force-fed. I picked it up years later and had somehow mixed feelings.

On one side..."


I suspect it's not so much about changing standards of hedonism as about changing standards of what's permissable to say out loud. I don't imagine we could teach Wilde much about excess (his hobby was underage boys, after all), but certainly how directly we can DISCUSS excess has changed. These days you can write a graphic sex scene and nobody will blink; in Wilde's day, his insinuations of homosexuality were enough to inflame not only the bigots but the prudes.

I think an interesting facet of the book is the way that Wilde himself is cast as both the victim (Dorian, following in the footsteps of Wilde, keeping his 'sin' hidden in a private room) and as Satan (Wootton is clearly playing the role that Wilde himself played in public). I always wonder how much of this is genuine self-condemnation and how much is mockery of the public for accepting his persona at face value. [It's even more a question in A Woman of No Importance, which is all about a Wildean figure being shamed, and reduced to being 'a man of no importance'].

It's worth remembering, I think, that despite his facade as a quintessential upper-class Englishman, Wilde was always an outsider, and not just because of what he did in his spare time. He was an Irishman in London - middle names 'Fingal O'Flaherty', and the son of a surgeon and a revolutionary poetess, so the wrong class as well as the wrong nationality. Grew up reading Young Irelander poetry.


Andrea This was my first reading of The Picture of Dorian Gray and I loved it. While I will not be adding it to my favorites shelf, I truly enjoyed it. There are sections of Wilde's writing here that I found irresistibly beautiful. Bearing in mind the author and the era in which he wrote, I think the book is fascinating. That being said, I did find the chapter, (Chapter 11 I believe), detailing Dorian's various superficial pursuits tedious to read, however, I recognize its purpose in the book.


Franky Just finished it and the word tedious comes to mind. I think what I liked the best was simply the Faustian moral to the book and the Gothic elements (supernatural, a bit of the grotesque with the picture, etc). I found Lord Henry, as some of you have said, to be a little too long-winded, though.

Just wondering: did any of you feel like Dorian was much of a sympathetic character? Did you feel sorry for him and his ultimate fate? I didn't at all, and maybe that is another reason I felt pretty lukewarm about the book.


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Agreed, Dorian is not a sympathetic character.


Janice (janaz28) I really enjoyed this book and couldn´t put it down. It was the first time for me to ever read anything by Wilde and I must say I like his style of writing a lot! Lord Henry´s comments made me smile from time to time, his remarks were of a dry humor and I got the feeling he was rather bored with his life and those comments and his attitude towards life were his way of dealing with it. The idea of seeing one´s soul represented in a picture was stunning. I think quite often we live our lives but don´t think about what harm we might do to our soul with our decisions and actions that will influence us later in life!


Franky Janice wrote: "I really enjoyed this book and couldn´t put it down. It was the first time for me to ever read anything by Wilde and I must say I like his style of writing a lot! Lord Henry´s comments made me smil..."

While I didn't care for the novel over all, I did like the idea of Dorian's soul being represented in the picture. Sort of reminded me of an Edgar Allan Poe story.


Janice (janaz28) Franky wrote: "Janice wrote: "I really enjoyed this book and couldn´t put it down. It was the first time for me to ever read anything by Wilde and I must say I like his style of writing a lot! Lord Henry´s commen..."

I have actually never read Edgar Allan Poe! The idea still keeps me busy, I can´t stop thinking about the whole "soul represented in a picture" idea!


Franky Janice, yes, I agree. I liked the Gothic mood to the portrait being an element of him. As far as Poe, I'm a huge fan of his stories. He has a story "The Oval Portrait" that sort of reminded me of Dorian and his picture.


Janice (janaz28) Franky wrote: "Janice, yes, I agree. I liked the Gothic mood to the portrait being an element of him. As far as Poe, I'm a huge fan of his stories. He has a story "The Oval Portrait" that sort of reminded me of D..."

Thank you, I might have to look into some of Poe´s works!


David | 1 comments We exist in a time where there has always been a "Picture of Dorian Gray", so it's hard to enjoy it from the writing style alone. The concepts, when they were fresh and original, must have been bizarre and mysterious to those readers. I particularly enjoyed the battle of the mortal vanity vs. the eternal reckoning of the soul. Such damage being absorbed, and the refusal to acknowledge it, look at it, or absolve it is the true villain we all battle.

I didn't care for the dryness in the writing or the limited cast of characters. With this much depth of plot (potential), I felt that it was lost on a lack of creative struggles and climatic moments. Before I even finished this book I felt ashamed for having not enjoyed a classic.


Jayme Finally, finished the book on a long plane trip (I had put it aside for a month after I was a third in). I will say that it picked up speed for me and I ended up enjoying the read.
The thoughts that I was left wondering about were "can you ever really erase the past and/or past mistakes, as Dorian was trying to do, or will they continually be etched on your soul?" which led me to wondering, if you can't, is there really such a thing as redemption?"


Franky David, you are right. I think the whole theme of damaged self/ mortal vanity is so applicable to today's world. We see it every day on the news, internet, television, etc. Dorian Gray fits in perfect with our society.


message 22: by M.L. (new) - rated it 3 stars

M.L. | 309 comments I still want to finish this but it got set aside so I'll have to start all over at the beginning!


Lorilee (lthomas74) I was worried about this book because it seems so many people disliked it. But I really liked it. It is very different from anything I have ever read. I have never read anything by Wilde either so I am very hapy this book was chosen. I agree that this book seems to be more applicable today then at the time the story was set.


message 24: by Mike (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mike (xolotl-ltolox) I thought the writing was interesting at times. I mainly enjoyed it, though, because the characters were so staggeringly pretentious and reminded me, in a slightly exaggerated degree, of people I've known. Wotton is one of the most tedious and disagreeable characters I've encountered.


message 25: by Wastrel (new)

Wastrel | 17 comments Lorilee wrote: "I was worried about this book because it seems so many people disliked it. But I really liked it. It is very different from anything I have ever read. I have never read anything by Wilde either ..."

If you've never read anything by Wilde, don't stop there! His children's stories are (iirc) excellent.


Lorilee (lthomas74) Will do, thanks Wastrel!


message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

I read this book in university, and enjoyed it. I thought it was an interesting look at the "what if" of immortality. Very Gothic story with a good level of detail.


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