Tag Archives: wilde

Writing

“Things are because we see them, and what we see, and how we see it, depends on the Arts that have influenced us. To look at a thing is very different from seeing a thing. One does not see anything until one sees its beauty” (Wilde 13).

Wilde, Oscar. “The Decay of Lying.” in Intentions. Cambridge: Chadwyck-Healey. 1999. 13. lion.chadwyck.com/Fulltext.do?id.=Z000731336&divLevel=0&area=Prose&DurUrl=Yes&forward=textsFT

Notes: power of art.

“The advantage, the luxury, as well as the torment and responsibility of the novelist, is that there is no limit to what he may attempt as an executant- no limit to his possible experiments, efforts, discoveries , successes” (James 385).

James, Henry. “The Art of Fiction.” in Partial Portraits.  New York: Macmillan. 1894. 385. archive.org/stream/partialportriats/00jameiala#page/384/mode/2up

Note:  is this true?

Fiction and Lying as Art

“It is here in very truth that he competes with life;it is here that he competes with his brother the painter in his attempt to render the look of things, the look that conveys their meaning, to catch the colour, the relief, the expression, the surface, the substance of the human spectacle.” James, Henry. Major Stories & Essays. New York: Library of America, 1999. Pg.581. – James’ argument of fiction as art reminds me of research paper I wrote last semester arguing that Stephen Crane is an impressionist writer using techniques of the impressionist painters. Agree with James that fiction writing is “one of the fine arts” (575).

“Try to be one of the people on whom nothing is lost!” Pg. 581 – the definition of an artist, and the way to experience life.

“A novel is a living thing, all one and continuous, like any other organism, and in proportion as it lives will it be found, I think that each of the parts there is something of each other of the other parts” pg. 582 – great analogy – a novel is about life and takes on its own life, needs to be cohesive, a body of parts.

“He forgets that when Art surrenders her imaginative medium she surrenders everything.” Wilde, Oscar. “The Decay of Lying.” In Intentions. New York: Brentano’s, 1905. Pg. 24. – art is not simply imagination, it’s interpretation.

Viewpoints

“And then Nature is so indifferent, so unappreciative. Whenever I am walking in the park here, I always feel that I am no more to her than the cattle that browse on the slope, or the burdock that blooms in the ditch. Nothing is more evident than that Nature hates the Mind.”

-Wilde, Oscar. The Decay of Lying. New York: Bertano’s, 1905. 9-10. Web. <http://archive.org/details/partialportraits00jameiala>.

Notes: Humans are self absorbed, Nature is always giving

 

“Art lives upon discussion, upon experiment, upon curiosity, upon variety of attempt, upon the exchange of views and the comparison of standpoints; and there is a presumption that those times when no one has anything particular to say about it, and has no reason to give for practice or preference, though they may be times of genius, are not times of development, are times possibly even, a little, of dullness.”

-James, Henry. “The Art of Fiction.” Longman’s Magazine 4 Sept. 1884: n. pag. Web. <http://public.wsu.edu/~campbelld/amlit/artfiction.html>.

Notes: living, malleable, purposeful

Whose Lying?

In point of fact what is interesting about people in good society- and M. Bourget rareiy moves  out of the Fauboug St. Germain, except to come to London, is the mask that each one of them wears, not the reality that lies behind the mask. It is a humiliating confession, but we are all made of the same stuff.

Wilde, Oscar.  “The Decay of Lying.” Intentions.  New York: Brentano’s, 1905.  14-15. Print.

Notes: people do not present their true self, no one is exception to this rule. Sarcasm near the end?

Art versus reality

“Art is our spirited protest, our gallant attempt to teach Nature her proper place. As for the infinite variety of Nature, that is a pure myth. It is not to be found in Nature herself. It resides in the imagination, or fancy, or cultivated blindness of the man who looks at her.” (p. 4)

– Wilde, Oscar. The Decay of Lying. New York: Brentano’s, 1905.

Notes: imagination over reality, fiction as art, why “cultivated blindness”?

_______________

“Art, breaking from the prison-house of realism, will run to greet him, and will kiss his false, beautiful lips, knowing that he alone is in possession of the great secret of all her manifestations, the secret that Truth is entirely and absolutely a matter of style; while Life — poor, probably, uninteresting human life — tired of repeating herself for the benefit of Mr. Herbert Spenser, scientific historians, and compilers of statistics in general, will follow meekly after him, and try to reproduce, in her own simple and untutored way, some of the marvels of which he talks.” (p. 29)

– On the “cultured liar”, Wilde, The Decay of Lying

Notes:  life imitating art, union of art and lying, reality as a prison

_______________

“The only reason for the existence of a novel is that it does compete with life. When it ceases to compete as the canvas of the painter competes, it will have arrived at a very strange pass.” (p. 64)

– James, Henry. The Art of Fiction. Upham, Crupples. 1885.

Notes: competition, novel versus life, representation versus competition

Does the novel strive to be life-like, or does it strive to be better than reality?

Wilde n’ Crazy

People tell us that Art makes us love Nature more than we loved her before; that it reveals 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.

Oscar Wilde, “The Decay of Lying,” in Intentions (Cambridge: Chadwyck-Healey, 1999), 258.

Notes: personification, nature vs. art, contradiction

 

It is as difficult to suppose a person intending to write a modern English, as to suppose him writing an ancient English, novel; that is a label which begs the question. One writes the novel, one paints the picture, of one’s language and of one’s time, and calling it modern English will not, alas! make the difficult task any easier. No more, unfortunately, will calling this or that work of one’s fellow artist a romance—unless it be, of course, simply for the pleasantness of the thing, as, for instance, when Hawthorne gave this heading to his story of Blithedale.

Henry James, “The Art of Fiction,” (http://virgil.org/dswo/courses/novel/james-fiction.pdf), 7.

Notes: ambiguity in art; “alas!” in the middle of a sentence; “romance” defined differently; Hawethorne/Blithedale?

 

Notes (overall): The title of my post isn’t meant to tag James or his ideas as crazy; I actually find his ideas profound. Crazy profound.

Fatal to the Imagination

“Many a young man starts in life with a natural gift for exaggeration which, if nurtured in congenial and sympathetic surroundings, or by the imitation of the best models, might grow into something really great and wonderful. But, as a rule, he comes to nothing. He either falls into careless habits of accuracy, or takes to frequenting the society of the aged and the well-informed. Both things are equally fatal to his imagination, as indeed they would be fatal to the imagination of anybody, and in a short time he develops a morbid and unhealthy faculty of truth-telling, begins to verify all statements made in his presence, has no hesitation contradicting people who are much younger than himself, and often ends by writing novels which are so like life that no one can possibly believe in their probability. ”

-Wilde, Oscar. The Decay of Lying. New York: Bertano’s, 1905. 9-10. Web. <http://archive.org/details/partialportraits00jameiala>.

Notes: Extreme truth, full circle, oh the irony.

“It is still expected, though perhaps people are ashamed to say it, that a production which is after all only a ‘make-believe’ (for what else is a ‘story’?) shall be in some degree apologetic -shall renounce the pretension of attempting really to represent life. This, of course, any sensible, wide-awake story declines to do, for it quickly perceives that the tolerance granted to it on such a condition is only an attempt to stifle it disguised in the form of generosity.”

-James, Henry. Major Stories and Essays. New York: Library of America College Edition, 1999. 573. Print.

Notes: Book snobs, destruction of fiction, real literature, real life.

Portrayal of Life

The only reason for the existence of a novel is that it does attempt to represent life. When it relinquishes this attempt, the same attempt that we see on the canvas of the painter, it will have arrived at a very strange pass.

Henry James. “The Art of Fiction.” In Partial Portraits. New York: Macmillan,1894 Internet Archive http://archive.org/details/partialportraits00jameiala) 378.

Notes: Novels rooted in real life,  novels have a purpose, writer and painter are comparable

Even Mr. Robert Louis Stevenson, that delightful master of delicate and fanciful prose, is tainted with this modern vice, for we know positively no other name for it.There is such a thing as robbing a story of its reality by trying to make it too true, and The Black Arrow is so inartistic as not to contain a single anachronism to boast of, while the transformation of Dr. Jekyll reads dangerously like an experiment out of the Lancet.

Oscar Wilde. “The Decay of Lying.” In Intentions. New York: Brentano’s, 1905 (Internet Archive. http://archive.org/details/intentionsdecayo00wild) 10-11.

Notes: Fine line in stories, too realistic, imagination needed.

Subjective

For what is Nature? Nature is no great mother who has borne us. She is our creation. It is in our brain that she quickens to life. Things are because we see them, and what we see, and how we see it, depends on the Arts that have influenced us.

Oscar Wilde, “The Decay of Lying,” in Intentions (New York: Brentano’s, 1905), 41.

Notes: perception – what is real? objective vs. subjective;  life without art = reality?

 

We must grant the artist his subject, his ideas, his donée : our criticism is applied only to what he makes of it.

Henry James, “The Art of Fiction,” in Partial Portraits (New York: Macmillan, 1894), 394-395.

Notes: style, subjective criticism, freedom of speech

I Wasn’t Expecting a Dialogue

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 had no art at all. Art is our spirited protest, our gallant attempt to teach Nature her proper place.

Oscar Wilde, “The Decay of Lying,” in Intentions (New York: Bretano’s, 1905), 1.

Notes: public versus personal opinion. Nature = Nothing. Art = All.

Why are we fortunate to have Art if Art’s only purpose is to protest Nature? If Nature were perfect, then there would be no need to protest. Wouldn’t it be better to not have a problem with anything? …If Nature were perfect would there still be Art? If so, then would it reflect Nature’s beauty and therefore make us love it more?

 

If Nature had been comfortable, mankind would never have invented architecture, and prefer houses to the open air. In a house we all feel of the proper proportions. Everything is subordinated to us, fashioned for our use and our pleasure. Egotism itself, which is so necessary to a proper sense of human dignity, is entirely the result of indoor life.

Notes: fixing Nature. Overriding Nature. Nature = less, a mistake. Art = more, wanted, appreciated, sensible, sophisticated, “proper,” better, purposeful.

The Indoors, Architecture, and Art itself create a new Natural state of mind — Egotism. Art is creating things Naturally — better than Nature can. Better because it is wanted, not wild.

Oscar Wilde, “The Decay of Lying,” 1.