Selected Prose of Oscar Wilde eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 117 pages of information about Selected Prose of Oscar Wilde.
Through the dim purple air fly those who have stained the world with the beauty of their sin, and in the pit of loathsome disease, dropsy-stricken and swollen of body into the semblance of a monstrous lute, lies Adamo di Brescia, the coiner of false coin.  He bids us listen to his misery; we stop, and with dry and gaping lips he tells us how he dreams day and night of the brooks of clear water that in cool dewy channels gush down the green Casentine hills.  Sinon, the false Greek of Troy, mocks at him.  He smites him in the face, and they wrangle.  We are fascinated by their shame, and loiter, till Virgil chides us and leads us away to that city turreted by giants where great Nimrod blows his horn.  Terrible things are in store for us, and we go to meet them in Dante’s raiment and with Dante’s heart.  We traverse the marshes of the Styx, and Argenti swims to the boat through the slimy waves.  He calls to us, and we reject him.  When we hear the voice of his agony we are glad, and Virgil praises us for the bitterness of our scorn.  We tread upon the cold crystal of Cocytus, in which traitors stick like straws in glass.  Our foot strikes against the head of Bocca.  He will not tell us his name, and we tear the hair in handfuls from the screaming skull.  Alberigo prays us to break the ice upon his face that he may weep a little.  We pledge our word to him, and when he has uttered his dolorous tale we deny the word that we have spoken, and pass from him; such cruelty being courtesy indeed, for who more base than he who has mercy for the condemned of God?  In the jaws of Lucifer we see the man who sold Christ, and in the jaws of Lucifer the men who slew Caesar.  We tremble, and come forth to re-behold the stars.—­The Critic as Artist.

THE LIMITATIONS OF GENIUS

The appeal of all Art is simply to the artistic temperament.  Art does not address herself to the specialist.  Her claim is that she is universal, and that in all her manifestations she is one.  Indeed, so far from its being true that the artist is the best judge of art, a really great artist can never judge of other people’s work at all, and can hardly, in fact, judge of his own.  That very concentration of vision that makes a man an artist, limits by its sheer intensity his faculty of fine appreciation.  The energy of creation hurries him blindly on to his own goal.  The wheels of his chariot raise the dust as a cloud around him.  The gods are hidden from each other.  They can recognise their worshippers.  That is all . . .  Wordsworth saw in Endymion merely a pretty piece of Paganism, and Shelley, with his dislike of actuality, was deaf to Wordsworth’s message, being repelled by its form, and Byron, that great passionate human incomplete creature, could appreciate neither the poet of the cloud nor the poet of the lake, and the wonder of Keats was hidden from him.  The realism of Euripides was hateful to Sophokles. 

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Selected Prose of Oscar Wilde from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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