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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with

almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or

re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included

with this eBook or online at

Title: The Picture of Dorian Gray

Author: Oscar Wilde

Release Date: June 9, 2008 [EBook #174]

[This file last updated on July 2, 2011]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII


Produced by Judith Boss. HTML version by Al Haines.

The Picture of Dorian Gray


Oscar Wilde


The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and

conceal the artist is art's aim. The critic is he who can translate

into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful


The highest as the lowest form of criticism is a mode of autobiography.

Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without

being charming. This is a fault.

Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the

cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom

beautiful things mean only beauty.

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well

written, or badly written. That is all.

The nineteenth century dislike of realism is the rage of Caliban seeing

his own face in a glass.

The nineteenth century dislike of romanticism is the rage of Caliban

not seeing his own face in a glass. The moral life of man forms part

of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists

in the perfect use of an imperfect medium. No artist desires to prove

anything. Even things that are true can be proved. No artist has

ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy in an artist is an

unpardonable mannerism of style. No artist is ever morbid. The artist

can express everything. Thought and language are to the artist

instruments of an art. Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for

an art. From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is

the art of the musician. From the point of view of feeling, the

actor's craft is the type. All art is at once surface and symbol.

Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril. Those who read

the symbol do so at their peril. It is the spectator, and not life,

that art really mirrors. Diversity of opinion about a work of art

shows that the work is new, complex, and vital. When critics disagree,

the artist is in accord with himself. We can forgive a man for making

a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for

making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.

All art is quite useless.



The studio was filled with the rich odour of roses, and when the light

summer wind stirred amidst the trees of the garden, there came through

the open door the heavy scent of the lilac, or the more delicate

perfume of the pink-flowering thorn.

From the corner of the divan of Persian saddle-bags on which he was

lying, smoking, as was his custom, innumerable cigarettes, Lord Henry

Wotton could just catch the gleam of the honey-sweet and honey-coloured

blossoms of a laburnum, whose tremulous branches seemed hardly able to

bear the burden of a beauty so flamelike as theirs; and now and then

the fantastic shadows of birds in flight flitted across the long

tussore-silk curtains that were stretched in front of the huge window,

producing a kind of momentary Japanese effect, and making him think of

those pallid, jade-faced painters of Tokyo who, through the medium of

an art that is necessarily immobile, seek to convey the sense of

swiftness and motion. The sullen murmur of the bees shouldering their

way through the long unmown grass, or circling with monotonous

insistence round the dusty gilt horns of the straggling woodbine,

seemed to make the stillness more oppressive. The dim roar of London


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