The following essay was originally published in Oscar Wilde. Do you believe love at first sight essay all know where the artistic life did lead Oscar Wilde upon his release from prison. Yet, nevertheless, this aesthetic philosophy of Wilde’s forms one of the most important parts of his writings, and of his attitude towards life.
First of all, let us inquire, what are aesthetics? By aesthetics is meant a theory of the beautiful as exhibited in works of art. His ideas were promulgated in the three works mentioned above, and also given to the world in lectures which he delivered at various times. Let us examine Oscar Wilde’s aesthetic teaching. And now I would point out to you the operation of the artistic spirit in the choice of subject.
Whatever spiritual message an artist brings to his age, it is for us to do naught but accept his teaching. In the primary aspect a painting has no more spiritual message than an exquisite fragment of Venetian glass. Some people have taken the view that Oscar Wilde in his philosophy of beauty was never quite sincere. This is, of course, one point of view, but it is not one with which I am in agreement.
With all his brilliancy the author of “Intentions” only saw a mere fragment of his subject. It may be that he wilfully shut his eyes to the truth. It has been said that the artist sees farther than morality. For our own part let us examine a little into the relation between art and morality for ourselves. That art must not be limited by choice of subject is a great point of Oscar Wilde’s own philosophy, and here he is perfectly sound.
Equally with all untruth must all impurity be excluded from art. Purity and chastity are requirements resulting from the very nature of art. First of all there are the very young, whose experience of life has not taught them the truth. It is more satisfactory to turn to the consideration of “Intentions,” and pay an enthusiastic and reverential meed of praise to this perfection of art. Do not these words strike almost the highest, purest, and most beautiful note that any writer of prose has struck throughout the centuries. Poems in Prose” that Oscar Wilde wrote were published first in The Fortnightly Review, during July, 1894, when Mr Frank Harris was the editor.
That they are beautiful it would be idle to deny. Still we have the sure and dexterous pen employed upon them. Yet, the condemnation of their teaching can hardly be too severe. And it is for this reason. The poet has dared an attempt of invasion into places where neither he nor any artist has right. Nowhere in this Appreciation have I made a whole-hearted condemnation of anything Wilde has written. There is one of them called “The Doer of Good.
It was night time and He was alone, And He saw afar off the walls of a round city and went towards the city. The allegory goes on to say that when Christ came near to the city He heard music and the the sounds of happiness and joy. Our Lord leaves the palace and walks through the city, and he sees another young man pursuing a harlot, while his eyes are bright with lust. The allegory goes on, but it is not necessary to continue an account of it. I have purposely refrained from quotation here. But let it again be said that the artistic presentment of these parables is without flaw.
And God said to the Man: “Thy life hath been Evil, and the Beauty I have shown thou hast sought for, and the Good I have hidden thou did’st pass by. It remains to say something about Wilde’s final essay, entitled “The Soul of Man,” which also appeared in The Fortnightly Review. This essay, brilliant in conception, brilliant in execution, has none of the old lyric beauty of phrase. As far as the prose artist is concerned, the essay has little to recommend it. The more Catholic the conception of religion and of art becomes, the more surely the socialistic idea obtains. Christ taught that individual character could only be developed through community. I quote them here in order to show what sympathy the essay awakened, even though that sympathy is utterly alien to the belief of the chronicler.
I have placed on record not only my own small opinion of his teachings, but a very solid and weighty consensus of condemnation of his attitude. And I hope, from the purely literary point of view, I have made obeisance and given every credit to one of the greatest literary artists of our time. Arawak men and women, naked, tawny, and full of wonder, emerged from their villages onto theisland’s beaches and swam out to get a closer look at the strange big boat. When Columbus and hissailors came ashore, carrying swords, speaking oddly, the Arawaks ran to greet them, brought themfood, water, gifts.
They willingly traded everything they owned . They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features. They do not bear arms, and donot know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out ofignorance. Their spears are made of cane . As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some of the natives byforce in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in theseparts. The information that Columbus wanted most was: Where is the gold? Its population, mostly poor peasants, worked for the nobility, who were 2 percent of thepopulation and owned 95 percent of the land.
Spain had tied itself to the Catholic Church, expelledall the Jews, driven out the Moors. Like other states of the modern world, Spain sought gold, whichwas becoming the new mark of wealth, more useful than land because it could buy anything. There was gold in Asia, it was thought, and certainly silks and spices, for Marco Polo and othershad brought back marvelous things from their overland expeditions centuries before. Portuguese sailors were working their way around the southern tipof Africa. Spain decided to gamble on a long sail across an unknown ocean.