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.
If you set a picture by Hokusai, or Hokkei, or any of the great native painters, beside a real Japanese gentleman or lady, you will see that there is not the slightest resemblance between them.  The actual people who live in Japan are not unlike the general run of English people; that is to say, they are extremely commonplace, and have nothing curious or extraordinary about them.  In fact the whole of Japan is a pure invention.  There is no such country, there are no such people.  One of our most charming painters {3} went recently to the Land of the Chrysanthemum in the foolish hope of seeing the Japanese.  All he saw, all he had the chance of painting, were a few lanterns and some fans.  He was quite unable to discover the inhabitants, as his delightful exhibition at Messrs. Dowdeswell’s Gallery showed only too well.  He did not know that the Japanese people are, as I have said, simply a mode of style, an exquisite fancy of art.  And so, if you desire to see a Japanese effect, you will not behave like a tourist and go to Tokio.  On the contrary, you will stay at home and steep yourself in the work of certain Japanese artists, and then, when you have absorbed the spirit of their style, and caught their imaginative manner of vision, you will go some afternoon and sit in the Park or stroll down Piccadilly, and if you cannot see an absolutely Japanese effect there, you will not see it anywhere.  Or, to return again to the past, take as another instance the ancient Greeks.  Do you think that Greek art ever tells us what the Greek people were like?  Do you believe that the Athenian women were like the stately dignified figures of the Parthenon frieze, or like those marvellous goddesses who sat in the triangular pediments of the same building?  If you judge from the art, they certainly were so.  But read an authority, like Aristophanes, for instance.  You will find that the Athenian ladies laced tightly, wore high-heeled shoes, dyed their hair yellow, painted and rouged their faces, and were exactly like any silly fashionable or fallen creature of our own day.  The fact is that we look back on the ages entirely through the medium of art, and art, very fortunately, has never once told us the truth.—­The Decay of Lying.

THOMAS GRIFFITHS WAINEWRIGHT

He was taken back to Newgate, preparatory to his removal to the colonies.  In a fanciful passage in one of his early essays he had fancied himself ‘lying in Horsemonger Gaol under sentence of death’ for having been unable to resist the temptation of stealing some Marc Antonios from the British Museum in order to complete his collection.  The sentence now passed on him was to a man of his culture a form of death.  He complained bitterly of it to his friends, and pointed out, with a good deal of reason, some people may fancy, that the money was practically his own, having come to him from his mother, and that the forgery, such as it was, had been committed thirteen

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