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The Picture of Dorian Gray [Anglais] [Relié]

Oscar Wilde

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Description de l'ouvrage

5 septembre 1992 0679600019 978-0679600015 Library edition
Introduction by Jeffrey Eugenides
 
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.” Just a few years later, the book and the aesthetic/moral dilemma it presented became issues in the trials occasioned by Wilde’s homosexual liaisons, which resulted in his imprisonment. Of Dorian Gray’s relationship to autobiography, Wilde noted in a letter, “Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world thinks me: Dorian what I would like to be—in other ages, perhaps.”


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CHAPTER I

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lord Henry stretched himself out on the divan and laughed.

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

"Too much of yourself in it!  Upon my word, Basil, I didn't know you were so vain; and I really can't see any resemblance between you, with your rugged strong face and your coal-black hair, and this young Adonis, who looks as if he was made out of ivory and rose-leaves. Why, my dear Basil, he is a Narcissus, and you — well, of course you have an intellectual expression, and all that. But beauty, real beauty, ends where an intellectual expression begins. Intellect is in itself a mode of exaggeration, and destroys the harmony of any face. The moment one sits down to think, one becomes all nose, or all forehead, or something horrid. Look at the successful men in any of the learned professions. How perfectly hideous they are! Except, of course, in the Church. But then in the Church they don't think. A bishop keeps on saying at the age of eighty what he was told to say when he was a boy of eighteen, and as a natural consequence he always looks absolutely delightful. Your mysterious young friend, whose name you have never told me, but whose picture really fascinates me, never thinks. I feel quite sure of that. He is some brainless, beautiful creature, who should be always here in winter when we have no flowers to look at, and always here in summer when we want something to chill our intelligence. Don't flatter yourself, Basil: you are not in the least like him.

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

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

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

"But why not?"

"Oh, I can't explain. When I like people immensely I never tell their names to 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 marvellous to us. The commonest thing is delightful if one only hides it. When I leave town now I never tell my people where I am going. If I did, I would lose all my pleasure. It is a silly habit, I dare say, but somehow it seems to bring a great deal of romance to one's life. I suppose you think me awful foolish about it?"

"Not at all," answered Lord Henry, "not at all, my dear Basil. You seem to forget that I am married, and the one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties. I never know where my wife is, and my wife never knows what I am doing. When we meet — we do meet occasionally, when we dine out together, or go down to the Duke's — we tell each other the most absurd stories with the most serious faces. My wife is very good at it, much better, in fact, than I am. She never gets confused over her dates, and I always do. But when she does find me out, she makes no row at all. I sometimes wish she would; but she merely laughs at me."

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

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

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

"What is that?" said the painter, keeping his eyes fixed on the ground.

"You know quite well."

"I do not, Harry."

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

"I told you the real reason."

"No you did not. You said it was because there was too much of yourself in it. Now, that is childish."

"Harry," said Basil Hallward, looking him straight in the face, "every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter. The sitter is merely the accident, the occasion. It is not he who is revealed by the painter; it rather the painter who, on the coloured canvas, reveals himself. The reason I will not exhibit the picture is that I am afraid that I have shown in it the secret of my soul."

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

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

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

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

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

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

Biographie de l'auteur

OSCAR WILDE (1854–1900) was an Irish writer, poet, and playwright. His novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, brought him lasting recognition, and he became one of the most successful playwrights of the late Victorian era with a series of witty social satires, including his masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest.



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Amazon.com: 4.3 étoiles sur 5  736 commentaires
278 internautes sur 304 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Forever young 6 février 2001
Par Guillermo Maynez - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Poche
This sophisticated but crude novel is the story of man's eternal desire for perennial youth, of our vanity and frivolity, of the dangers of messing with the laws of life. Just like "Faust" and "The immortal" by Borges.
Dorian Gray is beautiful and irresistible. He is a socialité with a high ego and superficial thinking. When his friend Basil Hallward paints his portrait, Gray expresses his wish that he could stay forever as young and charming as the portrait. The wish comes true.
Allured by his depraved friend Henry Wotton, perhaps the best character of the book, Gray jumps into a life of utter pervertion and sin. But, every time he sins, the portrait gets older, while Gray stays young and healthy. His life turns into a maelstrom of sex, lies, murder and crime. Some day he will want to cancel the deal and be normal again. But Fate has other plans.
Wilde, a man of the world who vaguely resembles Gray, wrote this masterpiece with a great but dark sense of humor, saying every thing he has to say. It is an ironic view of vanity, of superflous desires. Gray is a man destroyed by his very beauty, to whom an unknown magical power gave the chance to contemplate in his own portrait all the vices that his looks and the world put in his hands. Love becomes carnal lust; passion becomes crime. The characters and the scenes are perfect. Wilde's wit and sarcasm come in full splendor to tell us that the world is dangerous for the soul, when its rules are not followed. But, and it's a big but, it is not a moralizing story. Wilde was not the man to do that. It is a fierce and unrepressed exposition of all the ugly side of us humans, when unchecked by nature. To be rich, beautiful and eternally young is a sure way to hell. And the writing makes it a classical novel. Come go with Wotton and Wilde to the theater, and then to an orgy. You'll wish you age peacefully.
97 internautes sur 106 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Thrilling Read 14 mars 2000
Par Ellen - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I first was introduced to Dorian Gray through a book club, and I thought 'Oh no, Oscar Wilde, here I go, another hard to read boring society book". I was wrong. Within the first two chapters of Dorian Gray I was intrigued and fascinated. This book deals with several issues that are as important now as they are today: the way our culture worships beauty and youth, an admiration that boarders on homosexual love, virtues, the differences between men and women, and what art is and what makes it truly art. Dorian Gray is a beautiful young man, who sees a portrait of himself and says "How sad it is! I shall grow old, and horrible, and dreadful. But this picture will remain always young...If only it were the other way! If it were I who was to be always young, and the portrait to grow old...I would give my soul for that!" The book takes off from there, leading you from a small theater to great parties. While younger readers may find some of the wording as tough as an old gym shoe, anyone older than 13 with an interest in mystery, romance, and how society runs, will find this a pleasurable and haunting read.
100 internautes sur 110 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Be careful what you wish for 8 juin 2002
Par Daniel Jolley - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
The Picture of Dorian Gray is a mesmerizing read dominated by two amazing personalities. Dorian Gray is certainly interesting, but I was much more impressed by his friend and mentor Lord Henry Wotton. Dorian is a perfectly nice, well-meaning young man when we first meet him in the studio of the painter Basil Hallward. Hallward in fact is so drawn to the youth that he draws his greatest inspiration from painting him and just being with him. It is the influence of Hallward's friend Lord Henry which leads to Gray's downfall. There are few characters in literature as decadent, witty, and somehow enchanting as Lord Henry. He is never at a loss for words, fatalistic observations of life and people, sarcastic philosophical musings, and brilliantly devious ideas. Among his world of social decadents and artistic do-nothings, his charm remains redoubtable and highly sought-after. Gray immediately falls under his spell, soon devoting himself to living life to its fullest and enjoying his youth and beauty to the utmost. He solemnly wishes that he could remain young and beautiful forever, that Hallward's exquisite picture of him should bear the marks of age and debauchery rather than himself. To his surprise and ultimate horror, he finds his wish fulfilled. Small lines and creases first appear in the portrait, but after he cruelly breaks the heart of an unfortunate young actress who then takes her own life, the first real signs of horror and blood manifest themselves on his portrait. His love for the ill-fated Sibyl Vane is a sordid, heartbreaking tale, and it marks the culmination of his descent into debauchery. He frequents opium dens and houses of ill repute, justifying all of his worst actions to himself, while the influence of Lord Henry continues to work its black magic on his soul. He hides his increasingly grotesque portrait away in an upstairs room, sometimes going up to stare at it and take pleasure in the fact that it rather than he bears the stains of his iniquities. In time, his obsession with his secret grows, and he is constantly afraid that it will be discovered by someone. For eighteen years he lives in this manner, moving among the members of his society as a revered figure who magically retains his youth, but eventually he begins to see himself as he really is and to curse the portrait, blaming its magic for his miserable life of ill-begotten pleasures and loss of moral character. The final pages are well-written, and the climax is eminently satisfying.
Exhibiting the undeniable influence of the French Decadence movement of the late 19th century, this wonderful novel serves as a morality play of sorts. One can understand why its unique nature upset a British society emerging from the social constraints of Victorianism, but this reader is hard pressed to see why this novel proved so damaging to Wilde's eventual imprisonment and punishment. Dorian Gray is no hero, nor does his ultimate internal struggles and yearnings for rebirth inspire one to engage in the sort of life he himself eventually came to regret. The only "dangerous" character in this novel is Lord Henry; his delight in working his evil influence on others as a type of moral experiment and the silver-tongued charm he exploits to aid him in such misbegotten quests have the potential to do harm to a vulnerable mind such as that of Dorian Gray. Lord Henry's evil genius makes him much more interesting than his disciple Dorian Gray. By today's standards, this book is not shocking, and indeed it is much more dangerous to censor work such as this than it is to read it. This book in eminently quotable, and it still manages to cast a magical spell over readers of this day and age. Quite simply, The Picture of Dorian Gray deserves a place on the shelf of the world's greatest literature.
35 internautes sur 37 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 What Makes Makes Oscar Wild(e)? Annotated New Dorian Gray Sparks Interest 29 juin 2011
Par Alan W. Petrucelli - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
What made Oscar Wild(e)?
The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press has published a new edition of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. While there is no burning need for such a volume in the day of Lady Gaga and marriage equality, it's important to remember that Wilde spent two years in prison for being gay and for having the guts (stupidity?) to flaunt his sexuality. In many ways, it was the flaunting rather than the act themselves that so angered his persecutors.
And Dorian Gray, his first and only novel, was certainly a shot fired directly into the heart of Victorian prudery.
And in this day of Kindles, e-books and tweets, this is truly a magnificent job of bookmaking. Oversized, lavishly illustrated and gorgeously presented, Oscar would have loved it. The text is examined minutely, with a variety of comparisons from various publications of the novel, as well as Wilde's original manuscript. While there's nothing particularly new to discover in the emendations from the sources, merely a reinforcement of the outrageousness inherent in the piece, the scholarship is both astounding and informative.
The annotator and editor, Nicholas Frankel, easily and effortlessly places the modern reader in Wilde's time and place, London's late Victorian Age in London. There is still a tingle to Dorian's story of endless debauchery while he remains looking pure and innocent for decades and the painting ages and grows monstrous, reflecting his sins and crimes.
Strangely, the book seems more modern than one would imagine. Rather than merely a potboiler from two centuries back, WIlde's genius imbues the story with a strange and haunting immediacy, and a cautionary tale for us all: Be careful what you wish for.
One could hardly wish for a more beautifully accoutered book.
23 internautes sur 24 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 "An exquisite poison in the air" 18 juin 2008
Par Linda Bulger - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Cassette
Is your soul a good bargaining chip for perpetual youth and beauty? Young Dorian Gray was led to believe so and impulsively struck that bargain. "The Picture of Dorian Gray" is the story of his decline into depravity following that ill-advised trade-off. The story is well-known in popular culture. An artist becomes obsessed with his young model's attractiveness. He and his jaded friend compete for influence over the young man. The friend corrupts young Dorian, encourages him to embrace a life of sensual pleasure and to prize his own beauty. Dorian exclaims that he resents the portrait because IT will keep the freshness of youth -- then the fateful words, that he would give his soul if the picture could decay instead of his own face and body.

Be careful what you wish for! Over the next twenty years Dorian sinks into the depths of moral slime and watches the hidden portrait show all the signs of that immorality, while his own face and figure keep the blush of youth.

Along with the adulation of youth and beauty, Oscar Wilde delves into the theme of art as morally neutral, a principle of the aesthetic school of thought. Can art be moral or immoral? Should it teach us, improve us? That was the common 19th century view but the school of aestheticism believed that the arts had no role in moral enlightenment. The preface of the book lays out this theme in a series of proclamations.

The entire book, like all of Wilde's work, is packed with "sound bites." The corrupting friend, Lord Henry Wotton, is particularly prone to Polonius-like declamations, and Dorian tells him, "You cut life to pieces with your epigrams!" In fact Wilde does that, ripping into polite society and the opium dens of London alike.

"The Picture of Dorian Gray" is Oscar Wilde's only published novel. It first appeared in a magazine in 1890 as a shorter work, and was later expanded and edited to remove some of the more blatant homosexual references. His writing is exquisite, his themes repugnant but (dare I say it?) edifying. "What does it profit a man ..."

Highly recommended as a true classic of modern literature. I read this book when I was young and thought I understood it. Now that I'm not so young, I'm sure that I don't.

NOTE: I listened to this book on CD, not tape, but I chose this product link because it's the same production. The Brilliance Audio Library Edition, read by Michael Page, was incomparably presented and added a great deal to my enjoyment of this absorbing book.

Linda Bulger, 2008
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