The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Book - 2003
Average Rating:
Rate this:

'A triumph of execution ... one of the best narratives of the "double life" of a Victorian gentleman' Peter Ackroyd

Oscar Wilde's alluring novel of decadence and sin was a succès de scandale on publication. It follows Dorian Gray who, enthralled by his own exquisite portrait, exchanges his soul for eternal youth and beauty. Influenced by his friend Lord Henry Wotton, he is drawn into a corrupt double life, indulging his desires in secret while remaining a gentleman in the eyes of polite society. Only his portrait bears the traces of his depravity. This definitive edition includes a selection of contemporary reviews condemning the novel's immorality.

Edited with an Introduction and notes by ROBERT MIGHALL

Publisher: London ; New York : Penguin, ©2003.
ISBN: 9780141439570
Characteristics: xliii, 252 pages ;,20 cm.
Additional Contributors: Mighall, Robert


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
May 22, 2020

After being influenced and drawn in to the hedonistic culture of Lord Henry Wotton, Dorian Gray, a young man and subject of his friend’s painting, soon believes that beauty and self-fulfillment are the only aspects of life. Desperate to stay young and as beautiful as he was in his portrait, Dorian wishes that his painting would age for him. This wish is granted, and Dorian begins to live an indulging and indifferent life, all while his portrait ages and mutates with every vice. This novel walks along the line of morals and the absence of consequence, and ultimately explains the power of guilt. I was drawn into this novel in its complex characters and plot, as well as the way the author evoked such emotion and personality into his characters.

May 16, 2020

Young lad, an Adonis, sits for a portrait, one that reveals his soul. As he ages he leads a dissolute life and the picture changes, mirroring his life. Creative and original plot.

Apr 25, 2020

The Ebook has no pictures or annotations. I've had to look up a lot of stuff and in chapter 11 the author starts rambling and the story stagnates. The book relies heavily on referencing other works of literature of course repeatedly alluding to Shakespeare. Rich lives of leisure. If it weren't so short short I would trash it. I find the book tedious and boring. Probably why it's Wilde's only novel.

Mar 30, 2020

Absolutely great novel. Lord Henry Wotton spits out facts and philosophies with sharp wit almost every page.

Feb 11, 2020

This classic has been on my radar for years, and I found it staring me in the face on my last trip to the library. Since I had been utterly disappointed by my last classic, I thought it was time to turn it around. The Picture of Dorian Gray entertained, surprised and intrigued me. I'm still thinking about it 24 hours after reading the last page, which doesn't happen as often as I'd like. 19th century authors wrote stories with sticking power- novels that really delve deep into your mind and make you think, make you feel, and make you reflect on your life and society as a whole. Henry's ideals and influence over Dorian leads to his downfall, and helplessly watching Dorian spiral downwards into debauchery and madness is frustrating to say the least, but well done on Wilde's part. The appendices in my latest edition helped with the 19th century turns of phrase, colloquialisms and places that I wouldn't know as a 21rst century American. I found myself really enjoying this story, despite the few long-winded diatribes on society and the 19th century as a whole by one of the major characters (Henry). It seems people either love him or hate him, and I can certainly see both sides. While Henry is witty (I found myself actually laughing out loud several times when reading some of his observations and beliefs) he does get a bit grating after awhile, and by the last chapters I was happy to see the back of him.
I would have liked to have seen exactly what kinds of things that Dorian got up to that made his portrait change so (besides the two or three events actually depicted in the book). They are hinted at, but never explicitly stated or shown. I know this was 1800's England and the book probably wouldn't have been published had things gotten too graphic, but I'm still extremely curious. All in all, I really enjoyed reading this, and would recommend it to anyone as a jumping-off point for classics.

SPPL_Kristen Mar 15, 2018

A novel that never gets old.

Dec 12, 2017

If you think you know what there is to know about Oscar Wilde from his plays, most notably "The Importance of Being Earnest," you may be in for a shock with this book. Dank and dark, this book tells the story of a socialite who sells his soul for immortality (and immorality) ... only to discover a portrait of him gets more decrepit and old with the passage of time. The book was used against Wilde at his indecency trial in 1895, which speaks to its power. Highly recommended, though definitely not for younger readers.

Nov 26, 2017

Absolutely lovely and beautifully written! I was not only impressed with the novel's prose, but also with how Wilde exquisitely weaves together all those details, symbols and allusions. The character archetype and journey may not be unfamiliar to most people, but it is how Wilde executed based on this plot that makes all the difference.

Nov 24, 2017

This was on my literary bucket list. Full of quotable lines and descriptions of humanity. Glad I read it but wouldn't recommend it.

Jul 09, 2017

A brilliant and fun read. Wilde is a genius and a master of words. Every phrase is witty, meaningful, and simply enjoyable to soak up. I want to see more of Wilde's works, such as his plays and short stories. This book also opens the door for lots of interesting conversations about identity, life, beauty, and ugliness.

View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability
May 22, 2020

lkim17 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Dec 12, 2017

rpavlacic thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

EuSei Feb 28, 2016

EuSei thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

Apr 15, 2015

momofseven thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 16 and 99


Add a Quote
Jun 22, 2018

"The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame. That is all."

Dec 12, 2017

"The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it."

Jul 05, 2016

"Oh, brothers! I don't care for brothers. My elder brother won't die, and my younger bothers seem to do nothing else."

Apr 28, 2011

"When I like someone immensely I never tell their names to anyone. It is like surrendering a part of them. I have grown to love secrecy. It seems to be the one thing that can make modern life mysterious or marvellous to us. The commonest thing is delightful if one only hides it."


Add a Summary
Jul 13, 2011

Written and set in 19th century England, this gothic psychological thriller is a classic horror story, refreshingly free of the graphic blood and gore that seems to be the standard horror theme these days.

The story begins with Dorian Gray, a young man of extraordinary good looks, having his portrait painted by his friend Basil Hallward. In the midst of posing for the portrait enters Lord Henry, a pompous and self-important character that convinces an innocent Dorian that his looks are his most important characteristic and that he will have tremendous power over people because of them. He tells Dorian that he should enjoy them while they last as like everything else they will fade with time and so will the power that comes with them.
Taking his words seriously, a naïve and melancholy Dorian wishes that his looks would last forever and instead of time ravaging his face and body, his portrait would age instead, leaving him forever young. As the story moves along and to Dorian’s increasing dismay, he starts noticing that his wish has been granted… with a twist. The portrait is noticeably growing more hideous as Dorian’s behaviour becomes progressively more callous and contemptible.
Though dated, the story is fast-paced, well written and an easy read. Its lighter side pokes fun at the aristocracy and their total uselessness while its darker side reveals the level of shallowness and depravity of human nature.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at Library

To Top