I own The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde and read a bunch of his shorter essays (all of which are probably not published in Intentions but who cares.) I desperately wanted to review them and thought it would be useful to do that collectively (I'm reviewing the bigger essays seperately). When he doubled as a guest drama critic for the New York World, he reviewed the actress's début as Hester Grazebrook in Tom Taylor's unexceptional old play An Unequal Match. Sporting a new red suit that made him look like a 'red squash', in the jaundiced opinion of another theatergoer, Oscar produced a fulsome review that was remarkable for both what it said and what it left unsaid. In Woman's Dress aka Oscar The Fasion Expert he takes upon 'that most charming of all pleasures, the pleasure of answering one's critics'. Overall this essay really delighted me because it showed that Oscar was an advocate of woman's rights in some part and refused to conform to the standard set by society. Mr Whistler's Ten O'Clock 21 February 1885 This is a review of a lecture on art by Mr Whistler that Oscar attended and quite enjoyed. It was interesting to see how Oscar's opinion on Art changed throughout his life. In this review he states that 'an artist is not an isolated fact; he is the resultant of a certain milieu and a certain entourage. I SHIT YOU NOT He also talks about the fact that Risotto is a delightful dish which is too rarely seen in England. It's always of great interest to me to see in which way Oscar examined Art. He made the distincion between living and existing, and here he talked about the difference between reciting a passage and acting one. s Olivia at the Lyceum 30 May 1885 This review wasn't all that interesting to me because I am not familiar with the play discussed. Nonetheless, I liked that Oscar talked about studying the same subject under different conditions of art (e.g. a poem vs a play vs a short story). Balzac in English 13 September 1886 Oscar being a huge fan of Balzac contemplates in this review why he is so rarely read in England. ;) A Ride Through Morocco 8 October 1886 This is yet another book review, so Oscar himself has never been to Morocco. Nonetheless, being the ignorant white male that he was, he judged the country pretty harshly talking about the fact that 'freedom of thought has been killed by the Koran' and that 'there is no doubt that in Morocco England has interests to defend and a mission to pursue.' UGH! The American Invasion 23 March 1887 In this essay Oscar examines, yet again, the differences between the US and the UK. Two Biographies of Keats 27 September 1887 I don't care all that much about Keats but it was interesting to see Oscar's approach to art. I know Oscar was a little shit-head but you don't even know what I would give to have witnessed him live at one of the many London dinner parties he attended. Mr Morris on Tapestry 2 November 1888 I shit you not, Oscar went to a lecture by Mr William Morris on the fucking topic of tapestry. Anyways it was interesting to see that Oscar thought that limitations (e.g. space, time, money) would make artists more creative and productive since they would be forced to concentrate. ;) London Models January 1889 In this essay Oscar is basically shitting on models as a whole. He also states that we live in a world that 'reads too much to be wise, and thinks to much to be beautiful'.
Intentions by Oscar Wilde, is a book which lets me ponder my current stance towards Art, Criticism and truth. Now, I can admit to disliking a book after a few pages, without having regrets of saying so, like I had before. Referring to opinions, and what other people will think of me, I am a very empathic person, which does not work in my favor some times. I liked the reference of Beauty having equal meanings as man has moods. Beauty has as many meanings as man has moods. I fully agree with the topic of man, giving man a mask, truly does wonders to his capability to telling the truth.
Both sides are present in this collection of four long essays mostly about criticism. One side of the dialogue is the arch critic, turning all truisms on their head.
This collection of dialogues and essays demonstrates Oscar Wilde's aesthetic, but also his vast knowledge of the classics, Shakespeare, and other great things in nineteenth-century Anglo art, literature, architecture, and theatre. It is one thing to mention Aristotle, Morris, and Emerson as part of Vivian's critique of nature; quite another to append one's own aesthetic to the name dropping that leaves no doubt as to the author's learning. For instance, William Morris once said:Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.Wilde, in discussing nature versus art, mentions Aristotle (p. An indoor conversation is the scene of energy, but after talking "long enough", the outdoors beckons:Egotism itself, which is so necessary to a proper sense of human dignity, is entirely the result of indoor life.It is unsurprising that Oscar Wilde is so well read and witty. Yet the point of contradiction is not to be dishonest, but, through art, to bring to Nature the human experience:The final revelation is that Lying, the telling of beautiful untrue things, is the proper aim of Art.I recall in high school, when studying English literature, the teacher would ask: "What does the author mean by this or that?" to which I would say, "How should I know? It would take several re-readings of these dialogues and essays and some intense study into Wilde's life at the point in time of writing these works to discover more.
Several of his plays continue to be widely performed, especially The Importance of Being Earnest.