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Intentions (Literary Classics)
     

Intentions (Literary Classics)

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by Oscar Wilde
 

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Originally published in 1891 when Wilde was at the height of his form, these brilliant essays on art, literature, criticism, and society display the flamboyant poseur’s famous wit and wide learning. A leading spokesman for the English Aesthetic movement, Wilde promoted "art for art’s sake" against critics who argued that art must serve a moral purpose.

Overview

Originally published in 1891 when Wilde was at the height of his form, these brilliant essays on art, literature, criticism, and society display the flamboyant poseur’s famous wit and wide learning. A leading spokesman for the English Aesthetic movement, Wilde promoted "art for art’s sake" against critics who argued that art must serve a moral purpose. On every page of this collection the gifted literary stylist admirably demonstrates not only that the characteristics of art are "distinction, charm, beauty, and imaginative power," but also that criticism itself can be raised to an art form possessing these very qualities.
In the opening essay, Wilde laments the "decay of Lying as an art, a science, and a social pleasure." He takes to task modern literary realists like Henry James and Emile Zola for their "monstrous worship of facts" and stifling of the imagination. What makes art wonderful, he says, is that it is "absolutely indifferent to fact, [art] invents, imagines, dreams, and keeps between herself and reality the impenetrable barrier of beautiful style, of decorative or ideal treatment."
The next essay, "Pen, Pencil, and Poison," is a fascinating literary appreciation of the life of Thomas Griffiths Wainewright, a talented painter, art critic, antiquarian, friend of Charles Lamb, and — murderer.
The heart of the collection is the long two-part essay titled "The Critic as Artist." In one memorable passage after another, Wilde goes to great lengths to show that the critic is every bit as much an artist as the artist himself, in some cases more so. A good critic is like a virtuoso interpreter: "When Rubinstein plays … he gives us not merely Beethoven, but also himself, and so gives us Beethoven absolutely…made vivid and wonderful to us by a new and intense personality. When a great actor plays Shakespeare we have the same experience."
Finally, in "The Truth of Masks," Wilde returns to the theme of art as artifice and creative deception. This essay focuses on the use of masks, disguises, and costume in Shakespeare.
For newcomers to Wilde and those who already know his famous plays and fiction, this superb collection of his criticism offers many delights.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Wilde released this collection of critical essays in 1891, when his popularity was soaring. His subjects range from art and literature to society, all with which he was well acquainted. And, of course, he presents his arguments and observations in his own inimitable style, which never gets old. Note that the only other edition of this book currently available costs $88. That's something to be Wilde about. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781591021957
Publisher:
Prometheus Books
Publication date:
05/28/2004
Series:
Literary Classics Series
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.63(d)

Meet the Author

The ever-quotable Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was an Irish playwright, novelist, essayist, and poet who delighted Victorian England with his legendary wit. He found critical and popular success with his scintillating plays, chiefly The Importance of Being Earnest, while his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, scandalized readers. Imprisoned for two years for homosexual behavior, Wilde moved to France after his release, where he died destitute.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
October 16, 1854
Date of Death:
November 30, 1900
Place of Birth:
Dublin, Ireland
Place of Death:
Paris, France
Education:
The Royal School in Enniskillen, Dublin, 1864; Trinity College, Dublin, 1871; Magdalen College, Oxford, England, 1874

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Intentions 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A very nice edition of this book. Wilde is a great writer, one of my favorites. My version didn't have errors, the other reviews must be for different versions.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bad Scan Like so many of the free books available for the Nook, this scan is very poor. Pagination and printing is off. It may be a good book, but the edition fails as an ebook. It is not worth the trouble, and I am deleting it. I guess you really do get what you pay for¿
Anonymous More than 1 year ago