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Intentions   By: (1854-1900)

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Oscar Wilde's "Intentions" offers readers a fascinating and thought-provoking collection of essays that delve into the nature of art and criticism. While it may not be as well-known as some of Wilde's other works, this compilation showcases the author's wit, intellectual prowess, and unapologetic individualism.

One of the standout essays within this book is "The Critic as Artist," where Wilde argues that criticism is an art form in itself. He challenges the common belief that critics merely act as commentators, asserting that a truly great critic must possess creativity and imagination to provide meaningful insights. Through a dialogue between two characters, Wilde embarks on a philosophical exploration of the relationship between the artist and the critic, their interconnectedness, and the power dynamics at play.

Another notable essay, "The Decay of Lying," takes a satirical approach as Wilde discusses the decline of imaginative literature and the importance of artistic aesthetics. Through witty dialogue and clever paradoxes, he questions the prevalent notion that art must imitate life, suggesting instead that life imitates art. In doing so, he advocates for the artificial over the natural, arguing that beauty and imagination possess a deeper truth than mere representation.

Wilde's unique writing style, characterized by his sharp wit and his ability to play with language, is present throughout the entire collection. Each essay is a treat for lovers of language, filled with memorable aphorisms that provoke laughter and contemplation simultaneously. His unparalleled ability to blend humor and intellectual depth sets "Intentions" apart from similar works on art and aesthetics.

Although seemingly focused only on art and literature, the essays in "Intentions" touch upon broader themes of freedom, individuality, and societal conventions. Wilde challenges the reader to question established norms, beauty standards, and traditional notions of what constitutes art. In doing so, he encourages individuals to embrace their unique perspectives and to celebrate art in all its forms.

While "Intentions" may not receive the same level of recognition as Wilde's more famous works, such as "The Picture of Dorian Gray" or his plays, it remains a valuable gem in his literary corpus. For readers interested in delving deeper into Wilde's ideas about art and criticism, this collection is an essential addition to their library.

First Page:

INTENTIONS

Contents

The Decay of Lying Pen, Pencil, and Poison The Critic as Artist The Truth of Masks

THE DECAY OF LYING: AN OBSERVATION

A DIALOGUE. Persons: Cyril and Vivian. Scene: the Library of a country house in Nottinghamshire.

CYRIL (coming in through the open window from the terrace). My dear Vivian, don't coop yourself up all day in the library. It is a perfectly lovely afternoon. The air is exquisite. There is a mist upon the woods, like the purple bloom upon a plum. Let us go and lie on the grass and smoke cigarettes and enjoy Nature.

VIVIAN. Enjoy Nature! I am glad to say that I have entirely lost that faculty. People tell us that Art makes us love Nature more than we loved her before; that it reveals her secrets to us; and that after a careful study of Corot and Constable we see things in her that had escaped our observation. My own experience is that the more we study Art, the less we care for Nature. What Art really reveals to us is Nature's lack of design, her curious crudities, her extraordinary monotony, her absolutely unfinished condition. Nature has good intentions, of course, but, as Aristotle once said, she cannot carry them out. When I look at a landscape I cannot help seeing all its defects. It is fortunate for us, however, that Nature is so imperfect, as otherwise we should have no art at all... Continue reading book >>




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