Intentions BY Oscar Wilde
Intentions BY Oscar Wilde.
Originally published in 1891 when Wilde was at the height of his form, these brilliant essays on art, literature, criticism, and society display the flamboyant poseurs famous wit and wide learning. A leading spokesman for the English Aesthetic movement, Wilde promoted art for arts sake against critics who argued that art must serve a moral purpose. On every page of this collection the gifted literary stylist admirably demonstrates not only that the characteristics of art are distinction, charm, beauty, and imaginative power, but also that criticism itself can be raised to an art form possessing these very qualities.
The heart of the collection is the long two-part essay titled The Critic as Artist. In one memorable passage after another, Wilde goes to great lengths to show that the critic is every bit as much an artist as the artist himself, in some cases more so. A good critic is like a virtuoso interpreter: When Rubinstein plays he gives us not merely Beethoven, but also himself, and so gives us Beethoven absolutely made vivid and wonderful to us by a new and intense personality. When a great actor plays Shakespeare we have the same experience.
Also included are: The Decay of Lying, in which Wilde takes to task modern literary realists like Henry James and Emile Zola for their monstrous worship of facts and stifling of the imagination; Pen, Pencil, and Poison, a fascinating study of art critic and murderer Thomas Griffiths Wainewright; and The Truth of Masks, on the use of masks, disguises, and costume in Shakespeare. For newcomers to Wilde and those who already know his famous plays and fiction, this superb collection of his criticism offers many delights.
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1. Intentions (202 pgs)
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