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Wilde presents the essay in a Socratic dialogue, with the characters of Vivian and Cyril having a conversation throughout. The conversation, although playful and whimsical, promotes Wilde's view of Romanticism over Realism. Vivian tells Cyril of an article he has been writing called "The Decay Of Lying: A Protest." In the article Vivian defends Aestheticism and "Art for Ar Wilde presents the essay in a Socratic dialogue, with the characters of Vivian and Cyril having a conversation throughout. The conversation, although playful and whimsical, promotes Wilde's view of Romanticism over Realism. Vivian tells Cyril of an article he has been writing called "The Decay Of Lying: A Protest." In the article Vivian defends Aestheticism and "Art for Art's sake." As summarized by Vivian, it contains four doctrines: Art never expresses anything but itself. All bad art comes from returning to Life and Nature, and elevating them into ideals. Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life. Lying, the telling of beautiful untrue things, is the proper aim of Art. The essay ends with the two characters going outside, as Cyril asked Vivian to do at the beginning of the essay. Vivian finally complies, saying that twilight nature's "chief use" may be to "illustrate quotations from the poets."


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Wilde presents the essay in a Socratic dialogue, with the characters of Vivian and Cyril having a conversation throughout. The conversation, although playful and whimsical, promotes Wilde's view of Romanticism over Realism. Vivian tells Cyril of an article he has been writing called "The Decay Of Lying: A Protest." In the article Vivian defends Aestheticism and "Art for Ar Wilde presents the essay in a Socratic dialogue, with the characters of Vivian and Cyril having a conversation throughout. The conversation, although playful and whimsical, promotes Wilde's view of Romanticism over Realism. Vivian tells Cyril of an article he has been writing called "The Decay Of Lying: A Protest." In the article Vivian defends Aestheticism and "Art for Art's sake." As summarized by Vivian, it contains four doctrines: Art never expresses anything but itself. All bad art comes from returning to Life and Nature, and elevating them into ideals. Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life. Lying, the telling of beautiful untrue things, is the proper aim of Art. The essay ends with the two characters going outside, as Cyril asked Vivian to do at the beginning of the essay. Vivian finally complies, saying that twilight nature's "chief use" may be to "illustrate quotations from the poets."

30 review for The decay of lie: (low cost). limited edition

  1. 4 out of 5

    Maria Espadinha

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The Art of Lying The only real people are the people who never existed What is interesting about people in good society is the mask that each one of them wears. Not the reality that lies behind the mask It is an humiliating confession but we are all of us made out of the same stuff. Where we differ from each other is purely in accidents: in dress, manner, tone of voice, religious opinions, personal appearance... Sooner or later one comes to that dreadful universal thing called human nature. The anci The Art of Lying The only real people are the people who never existed What is interesting about people in good society is the mask that each one of them wears. Not the reality that lies behind the mask It is an humiliating confession but we are all of us made out of the same stuff. Where we differ from each other is purely in accidents: in dress, manner, tone of voice, religious opinions, personal appearance... Sooner or later one comes to that dreadful universal thing called human nature. The ancient historians gave us delightful fiction in the form of fact; the modern novelist presents us with dull facts under the guise of fiction. Lying and poetry are arts—arts, as Plato saw, not unconnected with each other—and they require the most careful study, the most disinterested devotion. Indeed, they have their technique, just as the more material arts of painting and sculpture have, their subtle secrets of form and colour, their craft-mysteries, their deliberate artistic methods. As one knows the poet by his fine music, so one can recognize the liar by his rich rhythmic utterance, and in neither case will the casual inspiration of the moment suffice. Here, as elsewhere, practice must precede perfection After reading these quotes on the art of lying , maybe some of you will consider the possibility of Donald Trump being an Oscar Wilde faithful follower. As a compulsive liar, maybe he has found in this essay some useful material for his creative personality. However that is not the case, cos according to Oscar Wilde “politicians never rise beyond the level of misrepresentation and actually condescend to prove, to discuss, to argue. How different from the temper of a true liar, with his frank, fearless statements, his superb irresponsibility , his healthy, natural disdain of proof of any kind...” As you see, there’s no possible way of Mr. DT ever using OW’s geniality as a scapegoat for his deceitful manners 😉 Although I don’t approve of hating, if you don’t suffer from the same problem, that means you can go on hating him as you previously did ... 😉😜

  2. 4 out of 5

    Saman

    ‘‘The justification of a character in a novel is not that other persons are what they are, but that the author is what he is. Otherwise, the novel is not a work of art.” The Decay Of Lying, an essay included in his collections of essays, Intentions, was written in a Socratic Dialogue between two characters Cyril and Vivian, named after his sons. Vivian reads out his article to Cyril in which he presents a somewhat absurd idea that life imitates art and not the other way around. “Cyril: But you ‘‘The justification of a character in a novel is not that other persons are what they are, but that the author is what he is. Otherwise, the novel is not a work of art.” The Decay Of Lying, an essay included in his collections of essays, Intentions, was written in a Socratic Dialogue between two characters Cyril and Vivian, named after his sons. Vivian reads out his article to Cyril in which he presents a somewhat absurd idea that life imitates art and not the other way around. “Cyril: But you ’don’t mean to say that you seriously believe that life imitates art, that life, in fact, is the mirror, and art the reality. Vivian: Certainly I do.” Every Oscar Wilde book (Play or Essay) presents some harsh realities of life and you'll forever learn from his intriguing and thought-provoking writing. "Indeed as anyone who has ever worked among the poor knows only too well, the brotherhood of man is no mere poet's dream, it is a most depressing and humiliating reality." The Decay of Lying was worth reading. It is difficult to express into words your feelings for so fascinating and incredible creation. It would suffice to say I thoroughly enjoyed his satire on Life, Art and Nature. "The fact is that we look back on the ages entirely through the medium of art, and art, very fortunately, has never once told us the truth."

  3. 5 out of 5

    leynes

    The Decay of Lying – An Observation is an essay by Oscar Wilde, published in 1891. Oscar presents the essay in a Socratic dialogue between the characters of Vivian and Cyril who, oddly, share the names of both of his sons. The conversation promotes Oscar's view of Romanticism over Realism. The final revelation is that Lying, the telling of beautiful untrue things, is the proper aim of Art. I am a huge fan of Oscar Wilde and quite familiar with his body of work, nonetheless, I needed some time The Decay of Lying – An Observation is an essay by Oscar Wilde, published in 1891. Oscar presents the essay in a Socratic dialogue between the characters of Vivian and Cyril who, oddly, share the names of both of his sons. The conversation promotes Oscar's view of Romanticism over Realism. The final revelation is that Lying, the telling of beautiful untrue things, is the proper aim of Art. I am a huge fan of Oscar Wilde and quite familiar with his body of work, nonetheless, I needed some time to get used to his writing style in the genre of nonfiction. Even though he propagates similar views in his plays, his essays are written in a very different fashion and are a lot harder to digest. Nonetheless, I quite enjoyed getting to know this new side of Oscar, since it showed his ability as a brilliant literary critic as well as a playwright. The conversation between Vivian and Cyril is prompted by the fact that the former wants to share an essay that he wrote on the decay of lying in art. While Vivian reads his unfinished essay, Cyril listens (at times unattentively), interrupts and objects. From the beginning, it becomes clear that Vivian will be Oscar's mouthpiece. All of Oscar's personal opinions are expressed through him. I found that very fascinating due to the fact that both characters might have been inspired by Oscar's sons and this show of favoritism seems odd. But that might just be Oscar being a classy dad. ;) Even though the essay is quite info-dumpy, there are some whimsical and playful moments; mostly due to Cyril's funny interruptions: CYRIL: Well, you need not look at the landscape. You can lie on the grass and smoke and talk. These light-hearted moments were much needed in this somewhat dense and inaccessible conversation. Oscar examines the conflict between unimaginative realism and imaginative reality. He despises the former and praises/ promotes the latter. Oscar thinks that the decay of lying in art has the consequence that writers will no longer think for themselves but only write what they think is deemed morally correct and relevant by society. He fears that artists will lose their imagination and start copying things instead of creating them. VIVIAN: The only real people are the people who never existed, and if a novelist is base enough to go to life for his personages he should at least pretend that they are creations, and not boast of them as copies. This approach to literature is often called art for art's sake or aestheticism. If you're familiar with Oscar's work, you will already know that he was one of the biggest aesthetes of his time. [If you want to treat yourself, read the prologue to The Picture of Dorian Gray which Oscar added after his novel was heavily censored and deemed immoral. You will be shook.] Personally, I resonated with this approach to literature because I like the idea that there shouldn't be any constraints when it comes to art. Writers should be able to write about whatever the fuck they want, and however they want it. I'm not the biggest fan of writers solely writing for other people – fan service is the worst. Also, in modern literature we see this huge trend of writers writing the same stories all over again – using the same tropes, character archetypes, settings – and not daring to think outside the box and to truly create something special. VIVIAN: And if something cannot be done to check, or at least to modify, our monstrous worship of facts, Art will become sterile and beauty will pass away from the land. Oscar says that art stands for itself and shouldn't be scrutinized by the public eye and their sense of morality. I think it's very important to keep the context in mind in which Oscar wrote this essay. He published his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray a year earlier and was forced to make severe alterations, e.g. cut out certain scenes entirely and modify certain actions to appease his publisher. The reason his novel was rejected in the first place was its homoerotic subtext. VIVIAN: To Art's subject-matter we should be more or less indifferent. We should, at any rate have no preferences, no prejudices, no partisan feeling of any kind. VIVIAN: Art finds her own perfection within, and not outside of, herself. She is not to be judged by any external standard of resemblance. She is a veil, rather than a mirror. So, I can totally understand why Oscar was so passionate about the topic of censorship. He was heavily constrained in his private life [he couldn't be openly gay because homosexuality was still a taboo in Victorian London], and then, he wasn't even allowed to write about his feelings and experiences in his art. The fact that Oscar was so outspoken against censorship makes me really happy. Although, since the times have changed, it's necessary to make a few adjustments to his statements. Nowadays we are mainly calling out racist, sexist and homophobic views. Something that I deem super vital and important, so we might say that today 'problematic' Art should be scrutinized by the public. It's kind of crazy if you think of it, we're fighting for the same thing that Oscar fought for (in this particular case: LGBTQ+ rights) but our approaches have to change as the times change; Oscar had to fight for the basic right to write about homosexual relationships, whilst today, we can focus on calling out homophobic bullshit. Still, our fight against the notion of homosexuality=bad is the same. VIVIAN: My dear fellow, whatever you may say, it is merely a dramatic utterance, and no more represents Shakespeare's real views upon art than the speeches of Iago represent his real views upon morals. Nonetheless, I also like the notion of 'to write these ideas is not to endorse them' but it's definitely a tricky subject matter. On the one hand, (especially after reading Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov) I appreciate authors who break taboos and maybe even take in the perspective of a 'problematic' person (e.g. a pedophile, a rapist, a racist) because it fosters conversation and the reader is forced to think. On the other hand, I am quite quick to judge and when I see racist statements I automatically infer that the author is racist as well. So, I think there's a fine line and only really skilled authors (imo) manage to write 'problemtic' ideas without endorsing them. In Lolita, I always had the feeling that Nabokov was completely in charge of what he was doing and that his ultimate message was that Humbert is a sick pedophile, and definitely not the message that pedophilia is great. Not sure if that makes sense. And lastly, even though I don't fully agree with Oscar on this point, I found it very interesting what he had to say about art being a representation of its time. CYRIL: Surely you would acknowledge that Art expresses the temper of its age, the spitit of its time, the moral and social conditions that surround it, and under whose influence it is produced. VIVIAN: Certainly not! Art never expresses anything but itself. As mentioned earlier, the context in which Oscar wrote this statements is super important to keep in mind, and I get where he is coming from, especially if we look at the disgusting censorship at his time. Nonetheless, I think that art can't be seperated from its artist and therefore also not seperated from its time. I agree that there are certainly writers who were ahead of their time and wrote (non)fiction which was very uncharacteristic of their time, still they were influenced by their surroundings and thus represent them. Finally, I will leave you with my favorite and probably the most Oscar-quote of this essay: VIVIAN: Thinking is the most unhealthy thing in the world, and people die of it as they die of any other disease. Fortunately, in England at any rate, thought is not catching. Shitting on English moral and the English society as a whole whenever he could, gotta love my main man.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mehmet B

    "1. Art never expresses anything but itself. 2. All bad art comes from returning to life and nature. (Realism is a complete failure, and the two things that every artist should avoid are modernity of form and modernity of subject matter.) 3. Life imitates art far more than art imitates life. 4. Lying, the telling of beautiful untrue things, is the proper aim of art." At first encounter, some of these doctrines may seem somewhat wierd. Oscar Wilde elaborates them convincingly in a dialogue between ch "1. Art never expresses anything but itself. 2. All bad art comes from returning to life and nature. (Realism is a complete failure, and the two things that every artist should avoid are modernity of form and modernity of subject matter.) 3. Life imitates art far more than art imitates life. 4. Lying, the telling of beautiful untrue things, is the proper aim of art." At first encounter, some of these doctrines may seem somewhat wierd. Oscar Wilde elaborates them convincingly in a dialogue between characters named Vivian and Cyril. Vivian is a witty defender of Romanticism.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Al Santiago

    People who don't lie have no creativity. And nowadays, people who do lie do it so poorly that they have no creativity either. People who don't lie have no creativity. And nowadays, people who do lie do it so poorly that they have no creativity either.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Omololu Adeniran

    The thesis is so radical, so unconventional that it takes your attention by force. Life imitates art and not the other way round? Written in the form of a socratic dialogue (the two characters happen to be the names of Oscar Wilde's two boys), this essay changed my life. It showed me just how far we could stretch the mind if we let it roam free. “Schopenhauer has analysed the pessimism that characterises modern thought, but Hamlet invented it. The world has become sad because a puppet was once me The thesis is so radical, so unconventional that it takes your attention by force. Life imitates art and not the other way round? Written in the form of a socratic dialogue (the two characters happen to be the names of Oscar Wilde's two boys), this essay changed my life. It showed me just how far we could stretch the mind if we let it roam free. “Schopenhauer has analysed the pessimism that characterises modern thought, but Hamlet invented it. The world has become sad because a puppet was once melancholy. The Nihilist, that strange martyr who has no faith, who goes to the stake without enthusiasm, and dies for what he does not believe in, is a purely literary product. He was invented by Tourgenieff, and completed by Dostoieffski. Robespierre came out of the pages of Rousseau as surely as the People’s Palace rose out of the debris of a novel. Literature always anticipates life. It does not copy it, but moulds it to its purpose. The nineteenth century, as we know it, is largely an invention of Balzac. Our Luciens de Rubempre, our Rastignacs, and De Marsays made their first appearance on the stage of the Comedie Humaine.”

  7. 4 out of 5

    Marija Andreeva

    I don't think that I will ever read something from Oscar Wilde which I will not like. I've read it in less than 2 hours. Great!! I don't think that I will ever read something from Oscar Wilde which I will not like. I've read it in less than 2 hours. Great!!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Airam

    It's incredible how many discussions I have had with friends over this essay. Perhaps I'm too orthodox to appreciate sensationalist attacks on nature and realism (a genre I see great value in, unlike Wilde). But my disagreeing with the thesis had less to do with my underappreciation than the lack of substantiation the author puts forward. If this were a novel, no justifications would even be needed, but being an essay, better reasoning is due. Wilde proposes (or rather, imposes) a few ideas, but I It's incredible how many discussions I have had with friends over this essay. Perhaps I'm too orthodox to appreciate sensationalist attacks on nature and realism (a genre I see great value in, unlike Wilde). But my disagreeing with the thesis had less to do with my underappreciation than the lack of substantiation the author puts forward. If this were a novel, no justifications would even be needed, but being an essay, better reasoning is due. Wilde proposes (or rather, imposes) a few ideas, but I will focus on two: 1) life imitates art; 2) nature imitates art. I accept the first, but not the latter. Are sunsets attempts to imitate Turner's paintings? No. It's not nature that imitates art, it's our perception of nature that builds bridges between nature and art. Here you might argue that our perception of nature is nature. Does a tree fall if no one is there to see it? Yes. How egocentrical to think not. Of course we could endeavour in mystical lines of reasoning and feed the idea that the world only exists because we do and that our perception ultimately conditions reality. This is an interesting exercise, but for pragmatic purposes I will stick to the more humbling notion that humans are not the centre of the Universe. The only nature that imitates art is human nature, and that is also the nature that creates it. Wilde's writing is wonderful as ever - as it would, being an aesthetic piece -, but I struggle with poorly fundamented pillorying of other takes on art.

  9. 5 out of 5

    danielle

    aaahhhhh i loved this so much!!! it took me about 10 pages to get into, and then i couldn’t put it down. the first section (“the decay of lying” essay) was very interesting but the REAL DEAL began in the second essay “the critic as artist”. i forgot how beautiful oscar wilde’s writing is, i could honestly read these sorts of essays for hours. the ideas were so interesting and the form of conversation between gilbert and ernest in which it was presented felt quite like a conversation between doria aaahhhhh i loved this so much!!! it took me about 10 pages to get into, and then i couldn’t put it down. the first section (“the decay of lying” essay) was very interesting but the REAL DEAL began in the second essay “the critic as artist”. i forgot how beautiful oscar wilde’s writing is, i could honestly read these sorts of essays for hours. the ideas were so interesting and the form of conversation between gilbert and ernest in which it was presented felt quite like a conversation between dorian and henry. and the little bits in between???? i literally scribbled all over my copy there was so much that i want to remember. “turn round and talk to me. talk to me till the white-horned day comes into the room. there is something in your voice that is wonderful.” like?? “ernest, you are quite delightful, but your views are terribly unsound” !!! “and as the moon has hidden herself, let us talk a little longer” also there were so many unexpected links between stuff we’ve been doing at school, like the renaissance and the use of form in literature. it was so interesting to read about it here. other aggressively underlined quotes: “music…creates for one a past of which one has been ignorant, and fills one with a sene of sorrows that have been hidden from one’s tears” “for the secrets of life and death belong to those, and those only, whom the sequence of time affects, and who possess not merely the present but the future…” “for when the work is finished it has, as it were, and independent life of its own, and may deliver a message far other than that which was put into its lips to say” “there is no mood or passion that Art cannot give us” “are there not book that can make us live more in a single hour than life can make us live in a score of shameful years?” “… and you will become for a moment what he was who wrote it; nay, not for a moment only, but for many barren moonlit nights and sunless sterile days will a despair that is not your own make its dwellings within you, and the misery of another gnaw your heart away.” “an idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all” “man is least himself when he talks in his own person. give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” there were countless more but hopefully you get the idea. i feel rather bewitched.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jakub

    thanks to David who has chosen this book for my b-day gift. although it’s something i would not pick up at a bookstore, some of oscar’s concludions were quite thought-provoking, especially when i related them to my own creative endeavours in music production. in the end, however, it’s crucial to remember that it is a pair of complicated essays that one will struggle with. the lower rating thus stems only from the challenging aspect, which means that for a casual reader it might be better to find thanks to David who has chosen this book for my b-day gift. although it’s something i would not pick up at a bookstore, some of oscar’s concludions were quite thought-provoking, especially when i related them to my own creative endeavours in music production. in the end, however, it’s crucial to remember that it is a pair of complicated essays that one will struggle with. the lower rating thus stems only from the challenging aspect, which means that for a casual reader it might be better to find these ideas elsewhere in a more digestible manner. below i give some more detail on each of the texts: — decay of lying — oscar tries to argue that Nature and Life are imitating Art, and that the modern tendency of Art to tend to Realism has made current Art bland. many of his references are difficult to follow without a thorough background and so i tried my best to get at least something out of this essay-like dialogue. i got some interesting insights, but it was primarily an intellectual challenge. — the critic as artist — simarly to the above, oscar utilises many references to works i simply do not know. nevertheless, he does an interesting job at exploring the role of critics in art. he recognises Criticism as something much more difficult and meaningful over the Creation of Art, and also believes that Criticism is a key intellectual direction that should be embraced by the society to achieve unity, peace and social prosperity.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Morgan Holdsworth

    126 pages of the philosophy of art written beautifully by Wilde, however in the style of a dialogue - think Waiting for Godot style. If I could’ve given it 3.9 stars I probably would have done given I am not too much of a classics fan which Wilde references in Part 2 and I think it would’ve greatly aided my understanding of the text. Would recommend reading pre visiting an art gallery to get you in the spirit.

  12. 4 out of 5

    David Dinaburg

    Reading Oscar Wilde feels like being on twitter; quick, punchy, amusing yet somehow secretly poignant. Twitter is rife with hypothetical dialogues, meme formats that commonly fuel the zestiest jokes: Me, also me; Expanding Brain; and Me, an Intellectual all have an Wildean bent. Hard to say what it must have felt like to read his words a hundred years ago; I imagine it looked a bit like your grandparents puzzling over tumblr. The structure simply feels different than a Conan Doyle or a Kiplin Reading Oscar Wilde feels like being on twitter; quick, punchy, amusing yet somehow secretly poignant. Twitter is rife with hypothetical dialogues, meme formats that commonly fuel the zestiest jokes: Me, also me; Expanding Brain; and Me, an Intellectual all have an Wildean bent. Hard to say what it must have felt like to read his words a hundred years ago; I imagine it looked a bit like your grandparents puzzling over tumblr. The structure simply feels different than a Conan Doyle or a Kipling, which often take patience or focus to tease apart. When you compare contemporaries like Treasure Island’s opening sentence, “Squire Trelawney, Dr. Livesey, and the rest of these gentlemen having asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearings of the island, and that only because there is still treasure not yet lifted, I take up my pen in the year of grace 17__ and go back to the time when my father kept the Admiral Benbow inn and the brown old seaman with the sabre cut first took up his lodging under our roof,” to Decay's, “Enjoy Nature! I am glad to say that I have entirely lost that faculty,” and it is hard not to think his words and phrasing were too casual, too flippant to be standard for the time. Except: ...Surely you don’t imagine that the people of the Middle Ages bore any resemblance at all to the figures on medieval stained glass, or in medieval stone and wood carving, or illuminated MSS. There were probably very ordinary-looking people, with nothing grotesque, or remarkable, or fantastic in their appearance. The Middle Ages, as we know them in art, are simply a definite form of style, and there is no reason at all why an artist with this style should not be produced in the nineteenth century. Within the text of The Decay of Lying, the point is made that stylistic choices of the past are not representative of anything but stylistic choices. It does not follow that the stilted or dense sentencing of Sherlock Holmes recreates the reality of the 1890’s any more than Lil’ Kim’s dope-ass rhymes represent how we spoke to each other in the mid-2010s. So what does this mean for The Decay of Lying? Well, not a whole lot. Its purpose was mostly shit-talking by Oscar Wilde about how boring other authors were, and how the modern style of believably realistic fiction was boring AF. It calls to mind The Great Derangement, where Ghosh doesn’t feel comfortable drawing on his experience of being nearly killed by a tornado because it would make his fiction seem too fantastic to be real. So, again, Wilde has his finger on a preternaturally modern complaint. There is, of course, a more horrifying possibility—nothing really changes over much across the centuries.But in the works of Herodotus, who, in spite of the shallow and ungenerous attempts of modern sciolists to verify his history, may justly be called the ‘Father of Lies’; in the published speeches of Cicero and the biographies of Suetonius; in Tacitus at his best; in Pliny’s Natural History; in Hanno’s Periplus; in all the early chronicles; in the Lives of the Saints; in Frossart and Sir Thomas Malory; in the travels of Marco Polo; in Olaus Magnus and Aldrovandus, and Conrad Lycosthenes, with his magnificent Prodigiorum et Ostentorum Chronicon; in the autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini; in the memoirs of Casanova; in Defoe’s History of the Plague; in Boswell’s Life of Johnson; in Napoleon’s dispatches, and in the works of our own Carlyle, whose French Revolution is one of the most fascinating historical novels ever written, facts are either kept in the proper subordinate position, or else entirely excluded on the general ground of dullness. Now everything is changed. Facts are not merely finding a footing place in history, but they are usurping the domain of Fancy, and have invaded the kingdom of Romance. Their chilling touch is over everything. They are vulgarizing mankind. Wilde harkens back to Herodotus, while we harken back to Wilde as non-fiction incorporates more storytelling elements. Fiction’s raison d'être is elegant lies. Believable audacity, designed to thrill and entertain, becomes muddied when the improbable is cited as too convenient. Remember, No, coincidence, no story. By the end of The Decay of Lying the narrator—who fie’d upon Nature in the opening—dutifully recounts the glory of a sunset and then ascribes its “chief use is to illustrate quotations from the poets.” It is an unsubtle and absurdist reversal of reality that emphasizes creative unreality, rather than pale reflective description, as the central power of the written word.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Teruneh

    Quite a shame that Oscar Wilde, a man whose background and raison d'etre bare an uncanny resemblance to the great Nietzsche's (especially so, considering the two never corresponded with one another), would make something as needlessly contrarian as this dialogue. The man continues to be a perplexing contradiction: a charlatan whose critiques on the insipid nature of the middle class nonetheless embolden their banality and, in return, gift him with the praise he so desires yet despises! Ah, but I Quite a shame that Oscar Wilde, a man whose background and raison d'etre bare an uncanny resemblance to the great Nietzsche's (especially so, considering the two never corresponded with one another), would make something as needlessly contrarian as this dialogue. The man continues to be a perplexing contradiction: a charlatan whose critiques on the insipid nature of the middle class nonetheless embolden their banality and, in return, gift him with the praise he so desires yet despises! Ah, but I digress. What value this dialogue has is its thorough elucidation of Wilde's aesthetic philosophy. I would recommend Nietzsche's aesthetic beliefs over Wilde's in a heartbeat, however.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Johanna

    The problem with Oscar Wilde is that I never know if I should read all that he writes with his love for sarcasm and satire in mind. This is basically an essay in dialogue-costume, and I don't know if I should take Vivian (the author of the essay and who, until the very end, I believed to be a woman) seriously or not, and didn't feel like I got a clear idea of how I should think about the text. There was also a lot of references to people that I don't know, which is always confusing and and creat The problem with Oscar Wilde is that I never know if I should read all that he writes with his love for sarcasm and satire in mind. This is basically an essay in dialogue-costume, and I don't know if I should take Vivian (the author of the essay and who, until the very end, I believed to be a woman) seriously or not, and didn't feel like I got a clear idea of how I should think about the text. There was also a lot of references to people that I don't know, which is always confusing and and created a distance between me and the text. But, it was short and witty with that special tone that Wilde has, so I still enjoyed it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Beloo Mehra

    There is hardly anything of Oscar Wilde that I don't enjoy reading. So this one too is a delightful read in my view. I have read several of his essays and talks on art and aesthetics, and find his view quite ahead of his time (though he is also a classicist in one way). His not-so-kind words about modernism and realism in art ring so good in my ears, perhaps because of the kind of art and literature I enjoy! But primarily because he could see that art and literature are supposed to serve higher There is hardly anything of Oscar Wilde that I don't enjoy reading. So this one too is a delightful read in my view. I have read several of his essays and talks on art and aesthetics, and find his view quite ahead of his time (though he is also a classicist in one way). His not-so-kind words about modernism and realism in art ring so good in my ears, perhaps because of the kind of art and literature I enjoy! But primarily because he could see that art and literature are supposed to serve higher function than merely 'record' and 'express' facts. "What you see is what you get" can't be the motive of good art or good literature.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte Wright

    I read this for my Victorian Literature module at University. Although a little hard to get your head around, it provides an interesting argument on the theory of art in a conversation between two men. Though I'm not sure I agree with Vivian's scathing dismissal of Realism, Wilde does put forward some interesting thoughts on artistic life and makes me want to revisit some Romantic poetry. I read this for my Victorian Literature module at University. Although a little hard to get your head around, it provides an interesting argument on the theory of art in a conversation between two men. Though I'm not sure I agree with Vivian's scathing dismissal of Realism, Wilde does put forward some interesting thoughts on artistic life and makes me want to revisit some Romantic poetry.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Martin

    Oscar Wilde uses the same format as in The Critic as Artist viz. an essay conveyed through a dialogue between two people. Not as tedious to read as Critic, but also not something I'll be re-reading any time soon, if ever. Oscar Wilde uses the same format as in The Critic as Artist viz. an essay conveyed through a dialogue between two people. Not as tedious to read as Critic, but also not something I'll be re-reading any time soon, if ever.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Melisa

    I find the thought that 'life imitates art' very beautiful, though I know many of the arguments this Essay gives us one could rationally disaprove. It‘s very interesting how the Essay kind of romanticizes lying in a (in my opinion) valid way. It isn‘t about the daily lying we all do every now an then. It‘s more about the lying that is 'needed' to create art. Everything else would be a copy of real life, and there is nothing artistic about that. I‘m unsure, if I agree with that statement though. I find the thought that 'life imitates art' very beautiful, though I know many of the arguments this Essay gives us one could rationally disaprove. It‘s very interesting how the Essay kind of romanticizes lying in a (in my opinion) valid way. It isn‘t about the daily lying we all do every now an then. It‘s more about the lying that is 'needed' to create art. Everything else would be a copy of real life, and there is nothing artistic about that. I‘m unsure, if I agree with that statement though. Many artworks fall into the category of ‚imitating‘ real life, for example photography. So Wilde, -or Vivian- wouldn‘t think of photography as art, right? At least that‘s how I understand it. Another important message is that not only life, but 'nature imitates art'. I‘m sure many rational thinking folks would draw the line there. But Vivian is basically saying nature is what we see. What we see is what we know. And what we know is mostly influenced by descriptions and images we see in art. So in my opinion, though it kind of is a selfish thought, it has enough truth in it to say-in a maybe exaggerated and romanticizing way- : life imitates art far more than art imitates life ♡

  19. 5 out of 5

    Patrícia

    I can't get this out of my mind I can't get this out of my mind

  20. 4 out of 5

    Pulkit

    Despite its occasionally florid language and some striking sentences, I really dislike this piece for a number of reasons. But then again, I'm considerably new to Oscar Wilde so it's possible I completely misjudged his intent and style. Reasons for not liking this: 1. Presented as an attempt at the socratic dialogue but not quite? Cyril is presumably the voice of convention that Wilde intends to argue against through Vivian. But for all intents and purposes, Cyril is a feeble and weak insert and n Despite its occasionally florid language and some striking sentences, I really dislike this piece for a number of reasons. But then again, I'm considerably new to Oscar Wilde so it's possible I completely misjudged his intent and style. Reasons for not liking this: 1. Presented as an attempt at the socratic dialogue but not quite? Cyril is presumably the voice of convention that Wilde intends to argue against through Vivian. But for all intents and purposes, Cyril is a feeble and weak insert and neither questions Vivian significantly nor does he suggest any argument against what Vivian goes on about. I'm not sure what was the point of having it as a dialogue when it could have just been presented as an essay with Wilde speaking through his own voice instead of through a fictional characters (unless Wilde doesn't agree with Vivian which I doubt) 2. It's pure rhetoric. And an unconvincing one at that. A significant chunk of it is dedicated to arguing about how life imitates art far more often and this is done primarily through listing certain instances of that. I can't expect the piece to argue formally because the piece is against truth/reason/formality in the first place. But even using it's own standards of beauty/rhetoric it does an unconvincing job at arguing for what it proposes. 3. There's a possibility that Wilde in fact disagreed with Vivian (and through him mockingly presented positions that were opposite to his). In which case he still does a disservice to his detractors by presenting them as such. Things I appreciating about this piece: 1. It does a somewhat decent job with illustrating the importance of lying in literature and art. 2. Presents views that I find disagreeable and gives me some perspective of why one would hold such views 3. The prose is pretty and the piece has some excellent aphorisms such as: >“The only beautiful things, as somebody once said, are the things that do not concern us. As long as a thing is useful or necessary to us, or affects us in any way, either for pain or for pleasure, or appeals strongly to our sympathies, or is a vital part of the environment in which we live, it is outside the proper sphere of art. To art's subjectmatter we should be more or less indifferent. We should, at any rate, have no preferences, no prejudices, no partisan feeling of any kind. It is exactly because Hecuba is nothing to us that her sorrows are such an admirable motive for a tragedy.” I consider myself quite unorthodox and open to views that challenge my perspective but wilde's essay only detracts from his position and convinces me more of mine.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Passant Lotfy

    I've been quite in love with Wilde since The picture of Dorian Gray and I've been trying to read anything I can get my hands on by him. This is thought provoking and intriguing to say the least. "The third doctrine is that Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life. This results not merely from Life’s imitative instinct, but from the fact that the self-conscious aim of Life is to find expression, and that Art offers it certain beautiful forms through which it may realize that energy. It i I've been quite in love with Wilde since The picture of Dorian Gray and I've been trying to read anything I can get my hands on by him. This is thought provoking and intriguing to say the least. "The third doctrine is that Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life. This results not merely from Life’s imitative instinct, but from the fact that the self-conscious aim of Life is to find expression, and that Art offers it certain beautiful forms through which it may realize that energy. It is a theory that has never been put forward before, but it is extremely fruitful, and throws an entirely new light upon the history of Art. It follows, as a corollary from this, that external Nature also imitates Art. The only effects that she can show us are effects that we have already seen through poetry, or in paintings. This is the secret of Nature’s charm, as well as the explanation of Nature’s weakness. The final revelation is that Lying, the telling of beautiful untrue things, is the proper aim of Art."

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dang Ole' Dan Can Dangle

    At first I was annoyed, confused, and bored by Wilde's dialectic insight into lying and how it relates to art. By the end though I was completely enthralled and contemplative. It's definitely one of the more fascinating things I've read and I'm honestly not sure how I feel about it. It forced me to rethink a lot of things and I suspect it will be quite some time before I conclude my stance on the subject of life and nature imitating art rather than the other way around. Throughout the short work At first I was annoyed, confused, and bored by Wilde's dialectic insight into lying and how it relates to art. By the end though I was completely enthralled and contemplative. It's definitely one of the more fascinating things I've read and I'm honestly not sure how I feel about it. It forced me to rethink a lot of things and I suspect it will be quite some time before I conclude my stance on the subject of life and nature imitating art rather than the other way around. Throughout the short work I definitely detected a bit of a sense of satire on the part of Wilde, or at the very least some sarcasm. I really don't know how to (and indeed rather not) summarize the work's doctrines rightfully, but all I can say is it was worth the read and it's really a bummer when an Oreo slips from your grasp and slowly descends to the deepest depths of the milk glass.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Karin

    Oscar Wilde is funny, really funny. I don't think I've ever genuinely laughed out loud -several times at that- while reading a text for university. He's blunt and direct and doesn't go around trying to be polite. He just goes and points out the flaws without holding back; at most he'll say the key word in French, making it sound like it's some refined, elevated concept that the author he's talking about achieved, while in truth is the contrary, making it even funnier. I don't think I'm explaining Oscar Wilde is funny, really funny. I don't think I've ever genuinely laughed out loud -several times at that- while reading a text for university. He's blunt and direct and doesn't go around trying to be polite. He just goes and points out the flaws without holding back; at most he'll say the key word in French, making it sound like it's some refined, elevated concept that the author he's talking about achieved, while in truth is the contrary, making it even funnier. I don't think I'm explaining it very well, is hard to point out exactly what made me enjoy this text, and Wilde's humour, so much. I just know that I really enjoyed it. PS: for a summary of his argument go to the last page.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Bens

    I just finished reading this for my Humanities class. I'm not sure that I get it. The character Vivian is explaining her views on what art is and its relationship to life and nature. Her point is fairly straight forward (although I disagree with it completely). I'm almost positive that Wilde, in writing this, was intending to be ironic although about what I can't really be sure. It didn't help either that I found this to be rather boring to read. It is too long and Vivian is extremely dry (once I just finished reading this for my Humanities class. I'm not sure that I get it. The character Vivian is explaining her views on what art is and its relationship to life and nature. Her point is fairly straight forward (although I disagree with it completely). I'm almost positive that Wilde, in writing this, was intending to be ironic although about what I can't really be sure. It didn't help either that I found this to be rather boring to read. It is too long and Vivian is extremely dry (once again, I'm sure there is a point to this somewhere). If it were not for the fact that I had to read this for class, I would have quit half-way through.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Evan

    Not Wilde's best work. Some of it was useless, clever babble, but some of its doctrines were interesting and potentially true. Not Wilde's best work. Some of it was useless, clever babble, but some of its doctrines were interesting and potentially true.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mina_rrat

    I do not agree withVivians view, for me it is not Art that formed Life it is Life that formed Art.

  27. 5 out of 5

    ella :)

    1. Art never expresses anything but itself 2. All bad art comes from returning to life and nature, and elevating them into ideals 3. Life imitates art far more than art imitates life 4. External nature also imitates art. The only effects that she can show us are effects that we have already seen through poetry, or in paintings 5. Lying, the telling of beautiful untrue things, is the proper aim of Art. The only real people are the people who never existed, and if a novelist is base enough to go to lif 1. Art never expresses anything but itself 2. All bad art comes from returning to life and nature, and elevating them into ideals 3. Life imitates art far more than art imitates life 4. External nature also imitates art. The only effects that she can show us are effects that we have already seen through poetry, or in paintings 5. Lying, the telling of beautiful untrue things, is the proper aim of Art. The only real people are the people who never existed, and if a novelist is base enough to go to life for his personages he should at least pretend that they are creations, and not boast of them as copies. Things are because we see them, and what we see, and how we see it, depends on the Arts that have influenced us. If something cannot be done to check, or at least to modify, our monstrous worship of facts, art will become sterile and beauty will pass away from the land The only beautiful things, as somebody once said, are the things that do not concern us. As long as a thing is useful or necessary to us, or affects us in any way, either for pain or for pleasure, or appeals strongly to our sympathies, or is a vital part of the environment in which we live, it is outside the proper sphere of art. To art's subject matter we should be more or less indifferent. We should, at any rate, have no preferences, no prejudices, no partisan feeling of any kind. It is exactly because Hecuba is nothing to us that her sorrows are such an admirable motive for a tragedy. It is a humiliating confession, but we are all of us made out of the same stuff. In Falstaff there is something of Hamlet, in Hamlet there is not a little of Falstaff. The fat knight has his moods of melancholy, and the young prince his moments of coarse humour. Where we differ from each other is purely in accidentals: in dress, manner, tone of voice, religious opinions, personal appearance, tricks of habit and the like. The more one analyses people, the more all reasons for analysis disappear. Sooner or later one comes to that dreadful universal thing called human nature. Art finds her own perfection within, and not outside of, herself. She is not to be judged by any external standard of resemblance. She is a veil, rather than a mirror. She has flowers that no forests know of, birds that no woodland possesses. She makes and unmakes many worlds, and can draw the moon from heaven with a scarlet thread. Hers are the "forms more real than living man", and hers are the great archetypes of which things that have existence are but unfinished copies. Nature has, in her eyes, no laws, no uniformity. She can work miracles at her will, and when she calls monsters from the deep they come. She can bid the almond tree blossom in winter, and send the snow upon the ripe cornfield. At her word the frost lays its silver finger on the burning mouth of June, and the winged lions creep out from the hollows of the Lydian hills. The dryads peer from the thicket as she passes by, and the brown fauns smile strangely at her when she comes near them. She has hawk-faced gods that worship her, and the centaurs gallop at her side.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Melanie Ottino

    tbh this was the most difficult reading I’ve tackled in a hot minute 😩 I understood individual words and sentences (with some effort rip) but had to put in WORK to string the thoughts together. There’s also a reference to art/music/history every other line and the average person has no hope of understanding them all without annotations. In essence, the combination of older/complex language and obscure (to me!!!) references made this a challenging read. Still, both essays (plays??? philosophical c tbh this was the most difficult reading I’ve tackled in a hot minute 😩 I understood individual words and sentences (with some effort rip) but had to put in WORK to string the thoughts together. There’s also a reference to art/music/history every other line and the average person has no hope of understanding them all without annotations. In essence, the combination of older/complex language and obscure (to me!!!) references made this a challenging read. Still, both essays (plays??? philosophical conversations???) were chock full of intriguing ideas and wit (: Definitely enjoyable and deserving as a penguin “great ideas” selection

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mary Pagones

    Wilde dabbled in many mediums--poetry, novels, drama, criticism, essays, and even philosophy. A noted classicist as well as a wit, this dialogue is laugh out loud funny. Less about lying than about the question of whether life imitates art or vice versa, Wilde's mouthpiece in the dialogue sides on the side of art having a greater influence on how humans fashion their social identities. And he is quite persuasive. The dialogue also cuts to ribbons the trend of realism in literature, quite rightly Wilde dabbled in many mediums--poetry, novels, drama, criticism, essays, and even philosophy. A noted classicist as well as a wit, this dialogue is laugh out loud funny. Less about lying than about the question of whether life imitates art or vice versa, Wilde's mouthpiece in the dialogue sides on the side of art having a greater influence on how humans fashion their social identities. And he is quite persuasive. The dialogue also cuts to ribbons the trend of realism in literature, quite rightly suggesting it is just as stylized as the most obviously artificial prose.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Eliana

    So freaking hard to read, my english level wasn't enough. I promised myself to don't try to read any classical work this year, it's so frustrating having to stop ten times per page because you don't understand. Beside my weaknesses, this is just art at its finest. What a great use of words, that's the only reason why I got to the end. So freaking hard to read, my english level wasn't enough. I promised myself to don't try to read any classical work this year, it's so frustrating having to stop ten times per page because you don't understand. Beside my weaknesses, this is just art at its finest. What a great use of words, that's the only reason why I got to the end.

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