Tag Archives: lying

Stories and Nature

“The subject-matter of fiction is stored up likewise in documents and records, and if it will not tie itself away, as they say in California, it must speak with assurance, with the tone of the historian.” (James 574)

James is saying stories come from experience and when writing a story, the reader must dig into those stored “documents” in order to have a self worthy story.

James, Henry. Henry James: Major Stories and Essays. New York: Penguin, 1984. Print.


“CYRIL. Well, you need not look at the landscape. You can lie on the grass and smoke and talk.”

A lesson comes from hearing and listening (or in this case reading) to a conversation! Cyril says look past everything, you can sit down and enjoy it, but make sure you look past structures to really understand what makes something. .. Does nature equal art?

The Decay of Lying. Oscar Wilde. The Victorian Web. Victorian Web, 21 April. 2008. Web. 8 Sept. 2013. ‹http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/wilde/decay.html>.

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.

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?

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.