Oscar Wilde: Art and Morality | Stuart Mason | *Non-fiction, Biography & Autobiography | 1/2
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section one of Oscar Wilde art and morality this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain for more information or to volunteer please visit librivox.org recording by martin gleason Oscar Wilde art and morality a defense of the Picture of Dorian Gray edited by Stuart Mason section one on the whole an artist in England gain something by being attacked his individuality is intensified he becomes more completely himself of course the attacks are very gross very impertinent and very contemptible but then no artist expects grace from the vulgar mind or style from the suburban intellect art and morality why do you always write poetry why do not write prose prose is so much more difficult these were the words of Walter Pater to Oscar Wilde on the occasion of their first meeting during the latter's undergraduate days at Oxford footnote Oscar Wilde matriculated at maudlin College Oxford October the 17th 1874 and took his BA degree on November the 28th 1878 Peter was at the time a fellow and tutor of Bray's nose those were days of lyrical Arturs and of studious sonnet writing wrote Wilde in reviewing one of Peters books some years later is when one loved the exquisite intricacy and musical repetitions of the ballot and the villanelle with it's linked long drawn echoes and it's curious completeness days when one solemnly sought to discover the proper temper in which a trial net should be written delightful days in which I am glad to say there was far more rhyme than reason Oscar Wilde was never a voluminous writer writing bores me so he once said to Andre she'd and at the time of which he speaks he had published little except some occasional verses in his university magazines then in 1881 came his volume of collected poems followed at intervals during the next nine or ten years by a collection of fairy stories and some essays in the leading reviews I did not quite understand what mr. Pater meant he continues and it was not till I had carefully studied his beautiful and suggestive essays on the Renaissance that I fully realized what a wonderful self-conscious art the art of English prose writing really is or may be made to be it has been suggested that it was his late apprenticeship to an art that requires lifelong study which rendered wilds prose so insincere resembling more the conscious artifice of the modern French school and the restrained yet jeweled style of Pater whom he claimed as his master in prose it was not till 1890 that he published his first and only novel the Picture of Dorian Gray with its strangeness of color and its passion at suggestion flickering like lightning through the gloom of the subject the Puritans and the Philistines who scented veiled improprieties in its paradoxes were shocked but it delighted the connoisseur and the artist wearied as they were with the humdrum accounts of afternoon tea parties and the love affairs of the curate that is such a master of prose and scholarship as Peter should have written in terms of commendation of Dorian Gray is sufficient to prove how free from offense the story really is in the original version of the story one passage struck Pater as being indefinite and likely to suggest evil to evil minds this paragraph Wilde elaborated but he refused to suppress a single sentence of what he had written no artist is consciously wrong he declared a similar incident is recorded as early as 1878 sharp the professor of poetry at Oxford suggested some improvements in wilds new dekat prize poem Ravenna Wylde listened to all the suggestions with courtesy and even took notes of them but he went away and had the poem printed without making a single alteration in it the Picture of Dorian Gray first appeared on June the 20th 1890 in Lippincott's monthly magazine for July it was published in America by the JB Lippincott company of Philadelphia simultaneously with the English edition of the magazine is suit by Messrs Ward lock and company a few weeks before the publication of his romance wilde wrote a letter to a publisher stating that his story would appear in Lippincott's on the following 20th of June and that after three months the copyrights reverted to him the publication of Dorian Gray would create a sensation he wrote he was going to add two additional chapters and would the publishing house with whom he was corresponding care to consider it unfortunately the letter bears no indication of the house to which it was sent however on the 1st of July in the following year the Picture of Dorian Gray was published in book form by Messrs Ward lark and company in this form it contained seven new chapters the binding was of a rough grey paper the color of cigarette ash with back of parchment vellum the gilt lettering and design was by Charles Ricketts a sumptuous ad Shonda Luke's limited to 250 copies signed by the author was also issued the covers being similar to the ordinary Edition but the gilt tooling more elaborate in March 1891 Wilde had written a preface to dorian gray in the fortnightly review in which he enunciated his Creed as an artist this preface is included in all impressions of Dorian Gray which contain 20 chapters why it was indeed a true prophet when he foretold that his story would create a sensation though he'd occupied but a hundred pages in a monthly periodical it was reviewed as fully as any shade off of a leading novelist in one of his letters Wilde says that out of over 200 press cuttings which he received in reference to Dorian Gray he took public notice of only three but it is impossible to doubt but that he was thinking of his critics when he gave vent to his views on journalists and the attitude of the British public towards art in his essay on the soul of man a few months later a work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament he writes its beauty comes from the fact that the author is what he is the moment that an artist takes notice of what other people want and tries to supply the demand he ceases to be an artist he considers it to be an impertinence for the public represented by the journalist who knows nothing about art to criticize the artist and his work in this country he declares that the arts that have escaped best from the aggressive offensive and brutalizing attempts on the part of the public to interfere with the individual as an artist are the arts in which the public takes no interest he gives poetry as an instance and declares that we have been able to have fine poetry because the public does not read it and consequently does not influence it but in the case of the novel and the drama arts in which the public does take an interest the result of the exercise of popular Authority has been absolutely ridiculous no country produces such badly written shun such tedious common work in the novel form it must necessarily be so the popular standard is of such a character that no artist can get to it it is at once too easy and too difficult to be a popular novelist it is too easy because the requirements of the public as far as plot style psychology treatment of life and the treatment of literature are concerned are within the reach of the very meanest capacity and the most uncultivated mind it is too difficult because to meet such requirements the artist would have to do violence to his temperament would have to write not for the artistic joy of writing but for the amusement of half-educated people and so would have to suppress his individualism forget his culture annihilate his style and surrender everything that is valuable in him the one thing that the public dislikes is novelty any attempt to extend the subject matter of art is extremely distasteful to the public and yet the vitality and progress of art depend in a large measure on the continual extension of subject matter the public dislikes novelty because it is afraid of it a fresh mode of beauty is absolutely distasteful to the public and whenever it appears it gets so angry and bewildered that it always uses two stupid expressions one is that the work of art is grossly unintelligible the other that the work of art is grossly immoral when the public says a work of art is grossly unintelligible it means that the artist has said a beautiful thing that is new when the public describes a workers grossly immoral it means that the artist has said or made a beautiful thing that is true the former expression has reference to style the latter to subject matter but it probably uses the words very vaguely as an ordinary mob will use ready-made paving stones there is not a single real poet or prose writer of this the 19th century on whom the British public has not solemnly conferred diplomas of immorality of course the public is very reckless in the use of the word an artist is of course not disturbed by it the true artist is a man who believes absolutely in himself because he is absolutely himself but I can fancy that if an artist produced a work of art in England that immediately on its appearance was recognized by the public through its medium which is the public press as a work that was quite intelligible and highly immoral he would begin seriously to question whether in its creation he had really been himself at all and consequently whether the work was not quite unworthy of him and either of a thoroughly second-rate order or of no artistic value whatsoever Wilde then goes on to discuss the use of other words by journalists seeking to describe the work of an artist these are the words exotic unhealthy and morbid footnote The Times February the 23rd 1893 in reviewing Salome said it is an arrangement in blood and ferocity morbid bizarre repulsive and very offensive wild replied times March the second the opinions of English critics on a French work of mine have of course little if any interest for me in the soul of man he wrote to call an artist more appeared because he deals with morbidity as his subject matter is as silly as if one called Shakespeare mad because he wrote King Lear he disposes of each in turn briefly he says that the public is morbid the artist is never morbid the word exotic merely expresses the rage of the momentary mushroom against the immortal entrancing and exquisitely lovely orchid and he concludes what the public calls an unhealthy novel is always a beautiful and healthy work of art end of section 1 section 2 of Oscar Wilde art and morality a defense of the Picture of Dorian Gray edited by Stuart Mason this LibriVox recording is in the public domain recording by Martin Gleason Section two one of the results of the extraordinary tyranny of authority is that words are absolutely distorted from their proper and simple meaning and are used to express the obverse of their right significant a study in papadum thoughts note since James's Gazette June 24th 1890 time was it was in the 70s when we talked about mr. Oscar Wilde time came it was in the 80s when he tried to write poetry and more adventurous we tried to read it time is when we had forgotten him or only remember him as the late editor of the woman's world a part for which he was singularly unfitted if we are to judge him by the work which he has been allowed to publish in Lippincott's magazine and which messes Ward lock and company have not been ashamed to circulate in Great Britain not being curious in orgia and not wishing to offend the nostrils of decent persons we do not propose to analyze the Picture of Dorian Gray that would be to advertise the developments of an esoteric / audience whether the Treasury or the vigilant society will think it worth while to process cute mr. Oscar Wilde Oh mrs. Ward lock and company we do not know but on the whole we hope they will not the puzzle is that a young man of decent parts who enjoyed when he was at Oxford the opportunity of associating with gentlemen should put his name such as it is too so stupid and vulgar a piece of work that nobody read it in the hope of finding Ritchie paradox or racy wickedness the writer airs his cheap research among the garbage of the French dick Kadam I can eat driveling peasant and he bores you unmercifully with his prosy rig morels about the beauty of the body and the corruption of the soul the grammar is better than weeders there who different equal but in every other respect we prefer that talented lady who broke off with Pius suppose EO pieces when she touched upon the horrors which are described in the pages of sweet Tunis and Livy not to mention the yet worse infamous believed by many scholars to be accurately portrayed in the lost works of Plutarch Venus and Nicodemus especially in Nicodemus let us take one peep at the young man in mr. Oscar Wilde's story poppy in number one is the painter of the Picture of Dorian Gray puppy number two is the critic a courtesy Lord skilled in all the knowledge of the Egyptians and a worry of all the sins and pleasures of blunt papí number three is the original cultivated by puppy number one with a romantic friendship the puppies fallish talking puppy number one about his art puppy number two about his sins and pleasures and the pleasures of sin and puppy number three about himself always about himself and generally about his face which is brainless and beautiful the puppies appear to fill up the intervals of talk by plucking daisies and playing with them and sometimes by drinking something with strawberry in it the youngest puppy is told that he is charming but he mustn't sit in the Sun for fear of spoiling his complexion when he is rebuked for being a naughty willful boy he makes a pretty Moo this man of twenty this is how he is addressed by the blase puppy at their first meeting yes mr. grey the gods have been good to you but what the gods gave they quickly take away when your youth goes your beauty will go with it and then you will suddenly discover that there are no triumphs left for you time is jealous of you and was against your lilies and roses you will become sallow and hollow-cheeked and delight you will suffer horribly why bless our souls haven't we read something of this kind somewhere in the classics yes of course we have but in what recondite author yes no yes it was in Horace what an advantage it is to have received a classical education and how it will astonish the Yankees but we must not forget our puppies who have probably occupied their time in lapping something with strawberry in it puppy number one the art puppy has been telling puppy number three the doll puppy how much he admires him what is the answer I am less to you than your ivory Hermes or your Silverthorne you like there more always how long will you like me did I have my first wrinkle I suppose I know now that when one loses one's good looks whatever they may be one loses everything I am jealous of the portrait you have painted of me why should it keep what I must lose if it was only the other way if the picture could only change and I could be always what I am now no sooner said than done the picture does change the original doesn't here's a situation for you tell fela kuti a could have made it romantic entrancing beautiful mr. Stevenson could have made it convincing humorous pathetic mr. Anstey could have made it screamingly funny it has been reserved for mr. Oscar Wilde to make it dull and nasty the promising youth plunges into every kind of main depravity and ends in being cut by fast women and vicious men he finishes with murder the new voluptuousness always leads up to blood shedding that is part of the can't the gore and gashes wear in mr. rider Haggard takes a chaste are the natural diet for the cultivated palette which is tired of mere licentiousness and every wickedness of filthiness committed by Dorian Gray is faithfully registered upon his face in the picture but his living features are undisturbed and an marred by his inward vileness this is the story which mr. Oscar Wilde has tried to tell a very lame story it is and very lamely it is told why has he told it there are two explanations and so far as we can see not more than two not to give pleasure to his readers the thing is too clumsy too tedious and alas that we should say it too stupid perhaps it was to shock his readers in order that they might cry fie upon him and talk about him much as mr. grant Allen recently tried in the Universal review to arouse by a licentiousness Exel relations an attention which is refused to his popular chatter about other men's science are we then to suppose that mr. Oscar Wilde has yielded to the craving for a notoriety which he once earned by talking fiddle-faddle about other men's art and sees his only chance of recalling it by making himself obvious at the cost of being obnoxious and by attracting the notice which the olfactory sense cannot refuse to the presence of certain self asserting organisms that is an uncharitable hypothesis and we would gladly Bandon it it may be suggested but is it more charitable that he derives pleasure from treating a subject merely because it is disgusting the phenomenon is not unknown in recent literature and it takes two forms in appearance widely separate in fact two branches from the same route a route which draws its life from malodorous putrefaction one development is found in the Puritan poor audience which produced Tolstoy's coin sir sonata and mr. Stead's famous outbursts that is odious enough and mischievous enough and it is rightfully execrated because it is tainted with an epoch recei not the less culpable because charitable persons may believe it to be unconscious but is it more odious or more mischievous than the frank paganism that is the word is it not which delights in dirtiness and confesses its delight still they are both chips from the same block the maiden tribute of modern Babylon and the Picture of Dorian Gray and both of the warts to be chucked into the fire not so much because they are dangerous and corrupt they are corrupt but not dangerous as because they are incredibly silly written by simple posers whether they call themselves Puritan or pagan who know nothing about the life which they affect to have explored and because they are mere catch any revelations of the non-existent which if they reveal anything at all our revelations only of the singularly unpleasant minds from which they emerge end of section 2 section 3 of Oscar Wilde art and morality a defense of the Picture of Dorian Gray edited by Stuart Mason this LibriVox recording is in the public domain recording by Martin Gleason section 3 who can help laughing when an ordinary journalist seriously proposes to limit the subject matter at the disposal of the artist mr. Wilde's bad case to the editor of the since James's Gazette footnote June 26 1897 ISM of my story the Picture of Dorian Gray and I need hardly say that I do not propose the discuss its merits and demerits its personalities or its lack of personality England is a free country and ordinary English criticism is perfectly free and easy besides I must admit that either from temperament or taste or from both I am quite incapable of understanding how any work of art can be pretty sized from a moral standpoint the sphere of art and the sphere of ethics are absolutely distinct and separate and it is to the confusion between the two that we owe the appearance of mrs. Grande that amusing old lady who represents the only original form of humor at the middle class as of this country have been able to produce what I do object to most strongly is that you should have placarded the town with posters on which was printed in large letters mr. Oscar Wilde's latest advertisement a bad case whether the expression a bad case refers to my book or to the present position of the government I cannot tell what was silly and unnecessary was the use of the term advertisement I think I may say without vanity though I do not wish to appear to run vanity down that of all men in England I am the one who requires least advertisement I am tired to death of being advertised I feel no thrill when I see my name in a paper The Chronicle does not interest me anymore I wrote this book in time if my own pleasure and it gave me very great pleasure to write it whether it becomes popular or not is a matter of absolute indifference to me I am afraid sir that the real advertisement is your cleverly written article the English public as a mass takes no interest in a work of art until it is told that the work in question is immoral and your high clamour will I have no doubt largely increase the sale of the magazine in which sale I may mention with some regret I have no pecuniary interest I remain sir your obedient servant Oscar Wilde sixteen tight Street Chelsea June 25th to this the following editorial note was appended in the preceding column will be found the best reply which mr. Oscar Wilde can make to our recent criticism of his more cash and naseous story the Picture of Dorian Gray mr. Wilde tells us that he is constitutionally unable to understand how any work of art can be criticized from a moral standpoint we were quite aware that ethics and aesthetics are different matters and that is why the greater part of our criticism was devoted not so much to the nastiness of the Picture of Dorian Gray but to its dullness and stupidity mr. Wilde pretends that we have advertised it so we have if any readers are attracted to a book which we have warned them will bore them insufferably that the story is corrupt cannot be denied but we added and assuredly believe that it is not dangerous because as we said it is tedious and stupid mr. Wilde tells us that he wrote the story for his own pleasure and found great pleasure in writing it we congratulate him there is no triumph more precious to your east heat and the discovery of a delight which Outsiders cannot share or even understand the author of the Picture of Dorian Gray is the only person likely to find pleasure in it end of section three section four of Oscar Wilde art and morality a defense of the Picture of Dorian Gray edited by Stuart Mason this LibriVox recording is in the public domain recording by Martin Gleason Section four why should an artist be troubled by the shrill clamor of criticism mr. Oscar Wilde again mr. Oscar Wilde continues to carry on the defense of his novel net the Picture of Dorian Gray writing to us under yesterday's date footnote June the 26th he says in your issue of today you state that my brief letter published in your columns is the best reply I can make to your article upon Dorian Gray this is not so I do not propose to discuss fully the matter here but I feel bound to say that your article contains the most unjustifiable attack that has been made upon any man of letters for many years the writer of it who is quite incapable of concealing his personal malice and so in some measure destroys the effect he wishes to produce seems not to have the slightest idea of the temper in which a work of art should be approached to say that such a book as mine should be chucked into the fire is silly that is what one does with newspapers of the value of pseudo ethical criticism in dealing with artistic work I have spoken already but as your writer has ventured into the perilous grounds of literary criticism I ask you to allow me in fairness not merely to myself but to all men to whom literature is a fine art to say a few words about his critical method he begins by assailing me with much ridiculous variance because the chief personages in my story are puppies they are puppy ears does he think that literature went to the docks when Thackery wrote about puppy damn I think that puppies are extremely interesting from an artistic as well as from a psychological point of view they seem to me to be satin leaf are more interesting than crags and I am of opinion that Lord Henry Wotton is an excellent corrective of the tedious ideal shadowed forth in the semi theological novels of our age he then makes vague and fearful insinuations about my grammar and my erudition now as regards grammar I hold that in prose at any rate correctness should always be subordinate to artistic effect and musical cadence and any peculiarities of syntax that may occur in Dorian Gray are deliberately intended and are introduced to show the value of the artistic theory in question your writer gives no instance of such peculiarities this I regret because I do not think that any such instances occur as regards erudition it is always difficult even for the most modest of us to remember that other people do not know quite as much as one does oneself I myself frankly admit I cannot imagine how a casual reference to sweet Tonio's and Petronius arbiter can be construed into evidence of a desire to impress an unoffending and ill-educated public by an assumption of superior knowledge I should fancy that the most ordinary of scholars is perfectly well acquainted with the lives of the Caesars and with the Satyricon the lives of the Caesars at any rate forms part of the curriculum at Oxford for those who take the honor school of literally money or ease and as for the Satyricon it is popular even among pass men do I suppose they are obliged to mean it in translations the writer of the article then suggests that I in common with that great and noble artist count Tolstoy take pleasure in a subject because it is dangerous about such a suggestion there is this to be said romantic art deals with the exception and with the individual good people belonging as they do to the normal and so commonplace type an artistically uninteresting bad people are from the point of view of art fascinating studies they represent color variety and strangeness good people takes aspirate one's reason bad people star one's imagination your critic if I must give him so honorable at states that the people in my story have no counterpart in life but they are to use his vigorous if somewhat vulgar phrase mere touch penny revelations of the non-existent quite so if they existed they would not be worth writing about the function of the artist is to invent not to chronicle there are no such people if there were I would not write about them life by hits realism is always spoiling the subject matter of art the superior pleasure in literature is to realize the non-existent and finally let me say this you have reproduced in a journalistic form the comedy of much ado about nothing and have of course spoilt it in your reproduction the poor public hearing from an authority so high as your own that this is a wicked book that should be coerced and suppressed by a Tory government will no doubt rush to it and read it but alas they will find that it is a story with a model and the moral is this all excess as well as all renunciation brings its own punishment the painter basil Hallward worshiping physical beauty far too much as most painters do dies by the hand of warning whose soul he has created a monstrous and absurd vanity Dorian Gray having led a life of mere sensation and pleasure tries to kill conscience and at that moment kills himself Lord Henry Wotton seeks to be merely the spectator of life he finds that those who reject the battle are more deeply wounded than those who take part in it yes there is a terrible moral in Dorian Gray a moral which the ProLiant will not be able to find in it but it will be revealed to all whose minds are healthy is this an artistic ever I fear it is it is the only error in the book the editor added to this letter mr. Oscar Wilde may perhaps be excused for being angry at the remarks which we allowed ourselves to make concerning the moral tale of the three puppies and the magic picture but he should not misrepresent us he says we suggested that his novel was a wicked book which should be coerced and suppressed by a Tory government we did nothing of the kind the authors of books of much less questionable character have been preceded against by the Treasury or the vigilance society but we expressly said that we hoped mr. Wilde's masterpiece would be left alone then mr. Wilde like any young lady who has published her first novel at the request of numerous friends falls back on the theory of the critics personal malleus this is unworthy of so experienced a literary gentleman we can assure mr. Wilde that the writer of that article had and has no personal malice or personal feeling towards him we can surely censure work which we believe to be silly and no to be offensive without the imputation of malice especially when that book is written by one who is so clearly capable of better things as for the critical question mr. Wilde is beating the air when he defends idealism and romantic art in literature in the words of mrs. Harris to mrs. gambi whose Dinnigan of it heaven forbid that we should refuse to an author the supreme pleasure of realizing the non-existent or that we should judge the aesthetic from the purely ethical standpoint no our criticism starts from lower ground mr. Wilde says that his story is a moral tale because the wicked persons in it come to a bad end we will not be so rude as to quote a certain remark about morality which one mr. Charles surface made to mr. Joseph surface we simply say that every critic has the right to point out that a work of art or literature is dull and incompetent in its treatment as the Picture of Dorian Gray is and that it's dullness and incompetence are not redeemed because it constantly hints not obscurely at disgusting sins and abominable crimes as the Picture of Dorian Gray dars end of section four section 5 of Oscar Wilde art and morality a defense of the Picture of Dorian Gray edited by Stuart Mason this LibriVox recording is in the public domain recording by Martin Eason section 5 the true artist takes no notice whatever of the public the public is to him non-existent he has no poppy door honeyed capes through which to give the monster sleep or sustenance he leaves that to the popular novelist mr. Oscar Wilde's defense who the editor of the Santa James's Gazette footnote June 28th sir as you still keep up there were in a somewhat milder form than before your attacks on me and my book you not only confer upon me the right but you impose upon me the duty of reply you state in your issue of today that I misrepresented you and I said that you suggested that a book so wicked as mine should be suppressed and coerced by a Tory government now you did not propose this but you did suggest it when you declare that you do not know whether or not the government will take action about my book and remark that the authors of books much less wicked have been proceeded against in law the suggestion is quite obvious in your complaint of misrepresentation you seem to me sir to have been not quite Candide however as far as I am concerned this suggestion is of no importance what is of importance is that the editor of a paper like yours should appear to countenance the monstrous theory that the government of a country should exercise a censorship over imaginative literature this is a Syria against which I and all men of letters of my acquaintance protest most strongly and any critic who admits the reasonableness of such a theory shows at once that he is quite incapable of understanding what literature is and what are the rights that literature possesses and governement might just as well try to teach painters how to paint or sculptors how to model as attempt to interfere with the style treatment and subject matter of the literary artist and no writer however eminent or obscure should ever give his sanction to a theory that would degrade literature far more than any didactical so-called he Marvel book could possibly do you then express your surprise that so experienced a literally gentleman as myself should imagine that your critic was animated by any feeling of personal malice towards him the phrase literally gentlemen is a vile phrase but let that pass I accept quite readily Jorma surance that your critic was simply criticizing a work of art in the best way that he could but I feel that I was fully justified in forming the opinion of him that I did he opened his article by a gross personal attack on myself this I need hardly say was an absolutely pardonable era of critical taste there is no excuse for it except personal malice and yousa should not have sanctioned it a critic should be taught to criticize a work of art without making any reference to the personality of the author this in fact is the beginning of criticism however it was not merely his personal attack on me that made me imagine that he was actuated by Marius what rarely confirmed me in my first impression was his reiterated assertion that my book was tedious and dull now if I were criticizing my book which I have some thoughts of doing I think I would consider it my duty to point out that it is far too crowded with sensational incident and far too paradoxical in style thus far at any rate as the dialogue goes I feel that from a standpoint of art there are our true defects in the book but tedious and Dow the book is not your critic has cleared himself of the charge of personal malice his denial and yours being quite sufficient in the matter but he has done so only by a tacit admission that he has really no critical instinct about literature and literary work which in one who writes about literature is I need hardly say a much graver fault than malice of any kind finally sir allow me to say this such an article as you have published really makes me despair of the possibility of any general culture in England when I a French author and my book brought out in Paris there is not a single literary critic in France on any paper of high-standing who would think for a moment of criticizing it from an ethical standpoint if he did so he would stultify himself not men in the eyes of all men of letters but in the eyes of the majority of the public you have yourself often spoken against Puritanism believe me sir Puritanism is never so of pensive and destructive as when it deals with art matters it is there that it is radically wrong it is this Puritanism to which your critic has given expression that is always Marling the artistic instinct of the English so far from encouraging it you should set yourself against it and should try to teach your critics to recognize the essential difference between art and life the gentlemen who criticized my book is in a perfectly hopeless confusion about it and your attempt to help him out by proposing that the subject-matter of art should be limited does not Bend matters it is proper that limitations should be placed on action it is not proper that limitations should be placed on art – art belong all things that are and all things that are not and even the editor of a London paper has no right to restrain the freedom of art in the selection of subject matter I now trust sir that these attacks on me and my book will cease there are forms of advertisement that are unwarranted and unwarrantable I am sorrow be daeun servant Oscar Wilde 16 tight Street SW June 27th end of section 5 section 6 of Oscar Wilde art and morality a defense of the Picture of Dorian Gray edited by Stuart Mason this LibriVox recording is in the public domain recording by Martin Gleason section 6 the public is always asking a writer why he does not write like somebody else quite oblivious of the fact that if he did anything of the kind he would cease to be an artist once more the editor attempted to justify his reviewers trenchant criticism mr. Oscar Wilde makes his third and we presume his final reply to the criticism which we published on the Picture of Dorian Gray somewhat grudgingly but in sufficiently explicit terms he withdraws the charge of personal malice which he brought against the critic and which we may again assure him is absolutely unfounded but he had hares to the other charge of critical incapacity is the wildest shows us that his book so far from being dull and tedious he full of interest an opinion which is shared see the letter we print on another page today by his publishers advertising agent in advance well we can only repeat that we disagree with mr. Wilde and his publishers paragraph fist quite apart from ethical considerations the book seems to us a feeble and ineffective attempt at a kind of allegory which in the hands of a blur writers writers like mr. Stevenson and mr. Anstey for instance can be made striking or amusing mr. Wilde also says that we suggested that the author and publishers of the Picture of Dorian Gray ought to be prosecuted by the Tory government by which we presume he means the Treasury no we consider that such prosecutions are ill-advised and expressly suggested that such action or not to be taken against a book which we believed to be rendered in knock you us by the tedious and stupid qualities which the critic discovered and explained secondly mr. Wilde hints that the rights of literature include a right to say what it pleases how it pleases and where it pleases that is a right not only not recognized by the law of the land but expressly denied by penalties which have been repeatedly enforced then what does mr. Oscar Wilde mean by talking about the rights of literature we will not insult an artist is by his own account unmoral or super immoral by suggesting that he means moral rights but he tells us that limitations may be set on action but what not to be set on art quite so but art becomes action when the work of art is published it is offensive publications that we object to not the offensive imaginings of such minds as find their pleasure the Haring letter from a London editor in the same issue of June the 28th appeared the following letter through the editor of the sand James's Gazette sir if mr. Oscar Wilde is the last man in England according to his own account who requires advertisement his friends and publishers do not seem to be of the same opinion otherwise it is difficult to account for the following audacious puffs positive which has been sent through the ha'penny post to newspaper editors and others mr. Oscar Wilde will contribute to the July number of Lippincott's magazine a complete novel entitled the Picture of Dorian Gray which has the first venture in fiction of one of the most prominent personalities and artistic influences of the day will be everywhere read with wide interest and curiosity but the story is in itself so strong and strange and so picturesque and powerful in style but it must inevitably have created a sensation in the literary world even if published without mr. Wilde's name on the title page you'd merely as a romance it is from the opening paragraph down to the tragic and ghastly climax full of strong and sustained interest as a study in psychology it is phenomenal judged even purely as a piece of literary workmanship it is one of the most brilliant and remarkable productions of the year such sir is the estimate of mr. Wilde's publishers or paragraph writer note the adjective alexei burdens of the buffer complete strong strange picturesque powerful tragic ghastly sustained phenomenal brilliant and remarkable for a man who does not want advertisement this is not bad I am sorry your obedient servant June the 27th a London editor end of section 6 section 7 of Oscar Wilde art and morality a defense of the Picture of Dorian Gray edited by Stuart Mason this LibriVox recording is in the public domain recording by Martin Gleason section 7 the sphere of art and the sphere of ethics are absolutely distinct and separate mr. Oscar Wilde's defense to the editor of the since James's Gazette footnote June the 30th sir in your issue of this evening you publish a letter from a lung an editor which clearly insinuates in the last paragraph that I have in some way sanctioned the circulation of an expression of opinion on the part of the proprietors of Lippincott's magazine of the literary and artistic value of my story of the Picture of Dorian Gray allow me sir to state that there are no grounds for this insinuation I was not aware that any such document was being circulated and I have written to the agents meses Ward and Bloch who cannot I feel sure be primarily responsible for its appearance to ask them to withdraw it at once no publisher should ever express an opinion of the value of what he publishes that is a matter entirely for the literary critic to decide I must admit as one to whom contemporary literature is constantly submitted for criticism that the only thing that ever prejudices me against a book is the lack of literary style but I can quite understand how any ordinary critic would be strongly prejudiced against a work that was accompanied by a premature and unnecessary panegyric from the publisher the publisher is simply a useful middleman it is not for him to anticipate the verdict of criticism I may however while expressing my thanks to the London editor for drawing attention to this I trust purely American method of procedure venture to differ from him in one of his criticisms he states that he regards the expression complete as applied to a story as a specimen of the adjective Earl exuberance of the puffer here it seems to me he sadly exaggerates what my story is is an interesting problem what my story is not is a novelette a term which you have more than once applied to it there is no such word in the English language as novelette it should not be used it is merely part of the slang of Fleet Street in another part of your paper sir you state that I received your assurance of the lack of malice in your critic somewhat grudgingly this is not so I frankly said that I accepted that assurance quite readily and that your own denial and that of your critic were sufficient nothing more generous could have been said what I did feel was that you saved your critic from the charge of malice by convicting him of the unpardonable crime of lack of literally instinct I still feel that to call my book an ineffective attempted allegory that in the hands of mr. an steer might have been made striking is absurd mr. Anstey sphere in literature and my sphere are different you then gravely ask me what rights I imagined literature possesses that is really an extraordinary question for the editor of a newspaper such as yours to ask the rights of literature sir are the rights of intellect I remember once hearing Monsieur Hinault say that he would sooner live under a military despotism and under the despotism of the church because the former merely limited the freedom of action while the latter limited the freedom of mind you say that a work of art is a form of action it is not it is the highest mode of thought in conclusion sir let me ask you not to force on me this continued correspondence by daily attacks it is a trouble and a nuisance as you assailed me fast I have a right to the last word let that last word be the present letter and leave my book I beg you to the immortality that it deserves I am sorry or obedient servant Oscar Wilde 16 tight Street SW June 28 the last word we should be sorry to deny the ex editor of the woman's world the feminine privilege of the last word for which he pleads today at the same time we cannot admit that we force upon mr. Oscar Wilde the burden of a newspaper controversy by daily attacks mr. Wilde published a book and presumably submitted it criticism we exercised our rights as critics of contemporary literature by pointing out that we thought the book feeble and offensive mr. Wilde replies defending his book against our unfavorable criticism and we have again the right to point out that we do not consider that he has satisfactorily met our arguments and our objections for the rest we are quite willing to leave the Picture of Dorian Gray to the immortality it deserves we must add one word we congratulate mr. wild on his emphatic disavowal of the ridiculous puffs preliminary which his publishers had chosen to circulate two days later July the second the editor could not resist one more word modest mr. Oscar Wilde he has been having a little dispute with the Daily Chronicle as well as with the since James's Gazette and this is what he White's to our contemporary my story is an essay on decorative art it reacts against the crude brutality of plain realism it is poisonous if you like but you cannot deny that it is also perfect and perfection is what we artists a mahat end of section 7 section 8 of Oscar Wilde art and morality a defense of the Picture of Dorian Gray edited by Stuart Mason this LibriVox recording is in the public domain recording by Martin Gleason section 8 art should never try to be popular the public should try and make itself artistic The Daily Chronicle on Dorian Gray footnote June 30th 1890 darkness and dirt are the chief features of Lippincott's this month the element in it that is unclean though undeniably amusing is furnished by mr. Oscar Wilde's story of the Picture of Dorian Gray it is a tale spawned from the leprous literature of the French decayed on a poisonous book the atmosphere of which is heavy with the mythic odors of model and spiritual putrefaction including study of the mental and physical corruption of a fresh fair and golden youth which might be horrible and fascinating but for its effeminate frivolity it studied in sincerity it's theatrical cynicism its tawdry mysticism its flippant philosophizing and the contaminating trail of garish vulgarity which is over all miss the wilds elaborate Wardour Street aestheticism and obtrusively cheap scholarship mr. Wilde says his book has a moral the moral so far as we can collect it is that man's chief end is to develop his nature to the fullest by always searching for new sensations that when the soul gets sick the way to cure it is to deny the senses nothing for nothing says one of mr. wilds characters Lord Henry Wotton can cure the soul but the senses just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul man is half angel and half ape and mr. wilds book has no real use if it be not to inculcate the moral that when you feel yourself becoming too angelic you cannot do better than rush out and make a beast of yourself there is not a single good and holy impulse of human nature scarcely a fine feeling or instinct that civilization art and religion have developed throughout the ages as part of the barriers between humanity and animalism that is not held up to ridicule and contempt in Dorian Gray if indeed such strong words can be fitly applied to the actual effect of his to wilds airy levity and fluent impudence his desperate attempt to vamp up a model for the book at the end is artistically speaking coarse and crude because the whole incident of Dorian Gray's death is as they say on the stage out of the picture Dorian's only regret is that unbridled indulgence in every form of secret and unspeakable vice every resource of luxury and art and sometimes still more become to the jaded young men of fashion whose life story and gray pretends to sketch by every a public nation of vulgarity and squalor is what why that it will leave traces of premature age and loathsomeness on his pretty face rosy with the loveliness that endeared youth of his odious type to the paralytic patricians of the lower Empire Dorian Gray prays that a portrait of himself which an artist who raves about him as young men do about the women they love not wisely but too well has painted they grow old instead of the original this is what happens by some supernatural agency the introduction of which seems purely farcical so that Dorian goes on enjoying unfading youth here of the year and might go on forever using his senses with impunity to cure his soul defiling English society with the moral pestilence which is incarnate in him but for one thing that is his sudden impulse not merely to murder the painter which might be artistically defended on the plea that it is only a fresh development of his scheme for realizing every face of life experience but to rip up the canvas in a rage merely because though he had permitted himself to do one good action it had not made his portrait less hideous but all this is inconsistent with Dorian Gray's cool calculating conscience less character evolved logically enough by mr. Wilde's new Hellenism then mr. Wilde finishes his story by saying that on hearing a heavy fall Dorian Gray's servants rushed in found the portrait on the wall as youthful looking as ever it's senile ugliness being transferred to the foul profligate himself who is lying on the floor stabbed to the heart this is a sham Morel as indeed everything in the book is a sham except the one element in the book which will taint every young mind that comes in contact with it that element is shockingly real and it is the plausibly insinuated defense of the Creed that appeals to the senses to cure the soul whenever the spiritual nature of man suffers from too much purity and self-denial oh the rest of this number of Lippincott consists of articles of harmless padding when critics disagree the artist is in accord with himself Oscar Wilde's reply dorian gray to the editor of The Daily Chronicle footnote July 2nd 1890 sir will you allow me to correct some errors into which your critic has fallen in his review of my story the Picture of Dorian Gray published in today's issue of your paper your critic states to begin with that I make desperate attempts to vamp up a moral in my story now I must candidly confess that I do not know what vamping is I see from time to time mysterious advertisements in the newspapers about how to vamp but what vamping really means remains a mystery to me if a mystery that like all other mysteries I hope someday to explore however I do not propose to discuss the absurd terms used by modern journalism what I want to say is that so far from wishing to emphasize any moral in my story the real trouble I experienced in writing the story was that of keeping the extremely obvious moral subordinate to the artistic and dramatic effect when I first conceived the idea of a young man selling his soul in exchange for eternal youth an idea that is old in the history of literature but to which I have given new form I felt that from an aesthetic point of view it would be difficult to keep the morale in its proper secondary place and even now I do not feel quite sure that I have been able to do so I think the moral to apparent when the book is published in a volume I hope to correct this defect as for what the morale is your critic states that it is this that when a man feels himself becoming too angelic he should rush out and make a beast of himself I cannot say that I consider this immoral the real moral of the story is that all excess as well as all the Annunciation brings its punishment and this moral is so far artistically and deliberately suppressed that it does not enunciate its law as a general principle but realizes itself purely in the lives of individuals and so becomes simply a dramatic element in a work of art and not the object of the work of art itself your critic also falls into ever when he says that Dorian Gray having a cool calculating conscience less character was inconsistent when he destroyed the picture of his own soul on the ground that the picture did not become less hideous after he had done what in his vanity he had considered his first good action Dorian Gray has not got a cool calculating conscience las' character at all on the contrary he is extremely impulsive absurdly romantic and is haunted all through his life by an exaggerated sense of conscience which Mars his pleasures for him and warns him that you use and enjoyment on not everything in the world it is finally to get rid of the conscience that had dogged his steps from year to year that he destroys the picture and thus in his attempt to kill conscience Dorian Gray kills himself your critic then talks about obtrusively cheap scholarship now whatever a scholar writes is sure to display scholarship in the distinction of style and the fine use of language but my story contains no planet or pseudo learning discussions and the only literary books that alludes to a books that any fairly educated reader may be supposed to be acquainted with such as the Satyricon of Petronius arbiter or Gucci's amour iike me such books as the consoles Clara Collis disk cleaner belong not to culture but to curiosity anybody may be excused for not knowing them finally let me say this the aesthetic movement produced certain curious colors subtle in their loveliness and fascinating in their almost mystical tone they were and are our reaction against the crude primaries of a doubtless more respectable but certainly less cultivated age my story is an essay on decorative art it reacts against the crude brutality of plain realism it is poisonous if you like but you cannot deny that it is also perfect and perfection is what we artists aim at I remain sir your obedient servant Oscar Wilde sixteen tight Street June the 30th end of section 8 section 9 of Oscar Wilde art and morality a defense of the Picture of Dorian Gray edited by Stuart Mason this LibriVox recording is in the public domain recording by Martin Gleason section 9 we allow absolute freedom to the journalist and entirely limits the artists English public opinion that is to say tries to constrain and impede and warp the man who makes things that are beautiful in effect and compels the journalist to retail things that are ugly or disgusting or revolting in fact so that we have the most serious journalists in the world and the most indecent newspapers the Scots observers review the following diatribe is from a journal the Scots observer which had an ephemeral existence in the early 90s and the heading of reviews and magazines it launched forth in these words why go grubbing in muck heaps the world is fair and the proportion of healthy minded men and honest women to those that are foul fallen or unnatural is great mr. Oscar Wilde has again been writing stuff that were better unwritten and while the Picture of Dorian Gray which he contributes to Lippincott's is ingenious interesting full of cleverness and plainly the work of a man of nature it is false art for its interest is medico-legal it is false to human nature for its hero is a devil it is false to morality for it is not made sufficiently clear that the writer does not prepare of course of a natural iniquity to a life of cleanliness health and sanity the story which deals with matters only fitted for the Criminal Investigation Department or a hearing in camera is discreditable alike to author and editor mr. Wilde has brains and art and style but if he can write for none but out Lord noble men and perverted Telegraph boys the sooner he takes to tailoring or some other decent trade the better for his own reputation and the public morals the Scots observer was edited by WG Henley it was violently Tory in character and afterwards became the national observer but not even a rechristening could save it from an early death we are dominated by journalism journalism of governs for ever and ever Oscar Wilde's replies to this vulgar abuse Wilde condescended to reply in the following terms sixteen tight Street Chelsea 9th July 1890 sir you have published a review of my story the Picture of Dorian Gray as this review is grossly unjust to me as an artist I ask you to allow me to exercise in your columns my right of reply your reviewer Sarah while admitting that the story in question is plain the work of a man of letters the work of one who has brains and art and style yet suggests and apparently in all seriousness that I have written it in order that it should be read by the most depraved members of the criminal and illiterate classes now sir I do not suppose that the criminal and illiterate classes ever read anything except newspapers they are certainly not likely to be able to understand anything of mine so let them pass and on the broad question of why a man of letters writes at all let me say this the pleasure that one has in creating a work of art is a purely personal pleasure and it is for the sake of this pleasure that one creates the artist works with his eye on the object nothing else interests him what people are likely to say does not even occur to him he is fascinated by what he has in hand he is indifferent to others I write because it gives me the greatest possible artistic pleasure to write if my work pleases the few I am gratified if it's just not it causes me no pain as for the mob I have no desire to be a popular novelist it is far too easy your critic then sir commits the absolutely unpardonable crime of trying to confuse the artist with his subject matter for this there is no excuse at all of one who is the greatest figure in the world's literature since Greek days heaps remarked that he had as much pleasure in conceiving the evil as he had in consuming the good let your reviewer sir Sidda the bearings of Keats's criticism for it is under these conditions that every artist works one stands removed from one subject matter one creates it and one contemplates it the further away the subject matter is the more freely can be artists work your reviewer suggests that I do not make it sufficiently clear whether I prefer virtue to wickedness or wickedness to Burt you an artist sir has no ethical sympathies at all virtue and wickedness out of him simply what the colors on his palette are to the painter they are no more and they are no less he sees that by their means a certain artistic effect can be produced and he produces it Iago are may be morally horrible and imogen stainless ly pure Shakespeare as Keats said had as much delight in creating the one as he had in creating the other it was necessary sir for the dramatic development of this story to surround Dorian Gray with an atmosphere of moral corruption otherwise the story would have had no meaning and the plot no issue to keep this atmosphere vague and the indeterminate and wonderful was the aim of the artist who wrote the story I claimed sir that he has succeeded each man sees his own sin in Dorian Gray what Dorian Gray sins are no one knows he who finds them has brought them in conclusion sir let me say how rarely deeply I regret that you should have permitted such a notice as the one I feel constrained to write on to have appeared in your paper but the editor of the since James's Gazette should have employed Caliban as his art critic was possibly natural the editor of the Scots observer should not have allowed societies to make moles in his reviews it is unworthy of so distinguished a man of letters I am etc Oscar Wilde to this letter the following editorial note was added it was not to be expected that mr. Wilde would agree with his reviewer as to the artistic merit of his booklet let it be conceded to him that he has succeeded in surrounding his hero with such an atmosphere as he describes this is his reward it is nonetheless legitimate for a critic to hold and to express the opinion that no treatment however skillful can make the atmosphere tolerable to his readers that is his punishment no doubt it is the artists privilege to be nasty but he must exercise that privilege at his peril during the next two weeks various correspondents aired their views on the subject and in the third week footnote August 2nd Oscar Wilde replied to them thus sir in a letter dealing with the relations of art to morals published in your columns a letter which I may say seems to me in many respects admirable especially in its insistence on the right of the artist to select his own subject matter mr. Charles Whibley suggests that it must be peculiarly painful to me to find that the ethical import of Tory gray has been so strongly recognized by the for most Christian papers of England and America that I have been greeted by more than one of them as a model reformer allow me sir – we're sure on this point not merely mr. Charles Whitley himself but also you're no doubt anxious readers I have no hesitation in saying that I regard such criticisms as a very gratifying tribute to my story for if a work of art is rich and vital and complete those who have artistic instincts will see its beauty and those to whom ethics appeal more strongly than aesthetics will see its moral lesson it will fill the Cowardly with terror and the unclean will see in it their own shame it will be to each man what he is himself it is the spectator and not life that art really mirrors and so in the case of Dorian Gray the purely literary critic as in the speaker and elsewhere regards it as a serious and fascinating work of art the critic who deals with art in its relation to conduct as the Christian leader and the Christian world regards it as an ethical parable light which I am told is the organ of the English mystics regards it as a work of high spiritual import since James's Gazette which is seeking apparently to be the organ of the private sees or pretends to see in it all kinds of dreadful things and hints at Treasury prosecutions and your mr. Charles Whibley she nearly says that he discovers in it lots of morality it is quite true that he goes on to say that he detects no art in it but I do not think that it is fair to expect a critic to be able to see a work of art from every point of view even Gautier at his limitations just as much as de novo had and in modern England Goethe's are rare I can only assure mr. Charles Whibley that no model apotheosis to which he has added the most modest contribution could possibly be a source of unhappiness to an artist I remain sir your obedient servant Oscar Wilde end of section 9 section 10 of Oscar Wilde art and morality a defense of the Picture of Dorian Gray edited by Stuart Mason this LibriVox recording is in the public domain recording by Martin Gleason section 10 when each the public says a work of art is grossly unintelligible it means that the artist has said or made a beautiful thing that is new when it describes a work as grossly immoral it means that the artist has said or made a beautiful thing that is true the former expression has reference to style the latter – subject matter this again led to further correspondence and after an interval of two weeks Oscar Wilde returned to the charges leveled against his book and replied for the third and last time his letter dated from 16 tight streets Chelsea 13th of August 1890 was as follows sir I am afraid I cannot enter into any newspaper discussion on the subject of art with mr. Ripley partly because the writing of letters is always a trouble to me and partly because I regret to say that I do not know what qualifications mr. Whibley possesses for the discussion of so important topic I merely noticed his letter because I am sure without in any way intending it he made a suggestion about myself personally that was quite inaccurate his suggestion was that it must have been painful to me to find that a certain section of the public as represented by himself and the critics of some religious publications had insisted on finding what he calls lots of morality in my story of the Picture of Dorian Gray being naturally desirous of setting your readers right on a question of such vital interest to the historian I took the opportunity of pointing out in your columns that I regarded all such criticisms as a very gratifying tribute to the ethical beauty of the story and I added that I was quite ready to recognize that it was not really fair to ask of any ordinary Critic that he should be able to appreciate a work of art from every point of view I still hold this opinion if a man sees the artistic beauty of a thing he will probably care very little for its ethical import if his temperament is more susceptible to ethical than to aesthetic influence he will be blind to questions of style treatment and the like it takes a goethe to see a work of art fully completely and perfectly and I thoroughly agree with mr. Whibley when he says that it is a pity that Goethe never had an opportunity of reading Dorian Gray I feel quite certain that he would have been delighted by it and I only hope that some ghostly publisher is even now distributing shadowy copies in the Elysian Fields and that the cover of Goethe's copy is powdered with guilt as Fidel's you may ask me sir why I should care to have the ethical beauty of my story recognized I answered simply because it exists because the thing is there the chief merit of Madame Bovary is not the moral lesson that can be found in it any more than the chief merit of Salaam boo is its archaeology but flerbert' was perfectly right in exposing the ignorance of things who called the one immoral and the other inaccurate and not merely was he right in the ordinary sense of the word but he was artistically right which is everything the critic has to educate the public the artist has to educate the critic allow me to make one more correction sir and I will have done with mr. Whibley he ends his letter with the statement that I have been indefatigable in my public appreciation of my own work I have no doubt that in saying this he means to pay me a compliment but he rarely over rates my capacity as well as my inclination for work I must frankly confess that by nature and by choice I am extremely indolent cultivated idleness seems to me to be the proper occupation for men I dislike newspaper controversies of any kind and of the 216 criticisms of Dorian Gray that have passed from my library table into the waste paper basket I have taken public notice of only three one was that which appeared in the Scots observer I noticed it because it made a suggestion about the intention of the author in writing the book which needed correction the second was an article in the since James's Gazette it was offensively and vocally written and seems to me to require immediate and caustic censure the tone of the article was an impertinence to any man of letters the third was a meek attack in a paper called the Daily Chronicle I think my writing to the Daily Chronicle was an act of pure willfulness in fact I feel shot it was I quite forget what they said I believe they said that Dorian Gray was poisonous and I thought that on alliterative grounds it would be kind to remind them that however that may be it is at any rate perfect that was all of the other 213 criticisms I have taken no notice indeed I have not read more than half of them it is a sad thing but one where is even of praise as regards mr. Brown's let it is interesting only insofar as it exemplifies the truth of what I have said above on the question of the two obvious schools of critics mr. Brown says frankly that he considers morality to be the strong point of my story mr. Brown means well and has got hold of a half-truth but when he proceeds to deal with the book from the artistic standpoint he of course goes sadly astray to class Dorian Gray with Monsieur Zola's latere is a silly as if one were to class mrs. four junior with one of the Adelphi melodramas mr. brown should be content with ethical appreciations there he is impregnable mr. Cobham opens badly by describing my letter setting mr. Webley right on a matter of fact as an impudent paradox the term impudent is meaningless and the term paradox is misplaced I am afraid that writing to newspapers has a deteriorating influence on style people get violent and abusive and lose all sense of proportion when they enter that curious journalistic arena in which the race is always to the noisiest impudent paradox is neither violent nor abusive but it is not an expression that should have been used about my letter however mr. Cobham makes full a tournament afterwards for what was no doubt a mere error of manner by adopting the impudent paradox in question as his own and pointing out that as I had previously said the artist will always look at the work of our from the standpoint of beauty of style and beauty of treatment and that those who have not got the sense of beauty or whose sense of beauty is dominated by ethical considerations will always turn their attention to the subject matter and make its model import the test and touchstone of the poem or novel or picture that is presented to them while the newspaper critic will sometimes take one side and sometimes the other according us his cultured or uncultured in fact mr. Cobham converts the impotent paradox into a tedious truism and I dare say in doing so does good service the English public likes tediousness and likes things to be explained to it in a tedious way mr. Cobham has I have no doubt already repented of the unfortunate expression with which he has made his debut some will say no more about it as far as I am concerned he is quite forgiving and finally sir in taking leave of the Scots observer I feel bound to make a candid confession to you it has been suggested to me by a great friend of mine who is a charming and distinguished man of letters and not unknown to you personally that there have been really only two people engaged in this terrible controversy and that those two people are the editor of the Scots observer and the author of Dorian Gray at dinner this evening over some excellent Chianti my friend insisted that under assumed and mysterious names you had simply given dramatic expression to the views of some of the semi educated classes of our community and that the letter signed each we're your own skillful if somewhat bitter caricature of the Philistine has drawn by himself I admit that something of the kind had occurred to me when I read H's first letter the one in which he proposed that the test of art should be the political opinions of the artist and that if one differed from the artist on the question of the best way of miss governing Ireland and should always abuse his work still there are such infinite varieties of Philistines and North Britain is so renowned for seriousness that I dismissed the idea as unworthy of the editor of scotch paper I now fear that I was wrong and that you have been amusing yourself all the time by inventing little puppets and teaching them how to use big words well sir if it be so and my friend is strong on the point allow me to congratulate you most sincerely on the cleverness with which you have reproduced the lack of literary style which is I am told essential for any dramatic and lifelike characterization I confess that I was completely taken in but I bear no malice and as you have no doubt been laughing at me up your sleeve let me join openly in the laugh though it may be a little against myself a comedy hence when the secret is out drop your curtain and put your dolls to bed I love Don Quixote but I do not wish to fight any longer with marionettes however cunning may be the master hand that works their wires let them go sir on the Shelf the Shelf is the proper place for them on some future occasion you can reel able them and bring them out for amusement they are an excellent company and go well through their tricks and if they are a little unreal I am not the one to object to unreality in art the jest is really a good one the only thing that I cannot understand is why you gave the marionette such extraordinary and improbable names I remain sir your obedient servant Oscar Wilde the correspondence continued for three weeks longer but Oscar Wilde took no further part in it end of section 10

Oscar Wilde: Art and Morality | Stuart Mason | *Non-fiction, Biography & Autobiography | 1/2

1: [00:00:00] – 01 – Art and Morality

2: [00:16:52] – 02 – A Study in Puppydom

3: [00:30:15] – 03 – Mr Wilde's Bad Case

4: [00:36:36] – 04 – Mr Oscar Wilde Again

5: [00:49:29] – 05 – Mr Oscar Wilde's Defence

6: [00:58:29] – 06 – Letter from "A London Editor"

7: [01:05:52] – 07 – Mr Oscar Wilde's Defence

8: [01:14:25] – 08 – "The Daily Chronicle" on "Dorian Gray"

9: [01:28:35] – 09 – "The Scots Observer's" Review. Oscar Wilde's Replies

10: [01:42:29] – 10 – Further Correspondence

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