Why Is Oscar Wilde A Literary Critic

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“I was a man who stood in the symbolic relations to the art and culture of my age.”
The late Victorian period saw a revolution in the spheres of art and literature. John Ruskin, Matthew Arnold, Walter Pater and Oscar Wilde were among the most influential art and literary critics of the mid and late Victorian period. They baffled the British opinion with their brand new stance on literature, paintings, and sculptures. They turned criticism into a brand new form of art. Their new theories were utterly modern and absolutely new for the period, which has come to be known as The English Renaissance of Art. This English Renaissance of Art was defined by Oscar Wilde as: “a sort of new birth of the spirit of man, like the great Italian Renaissance
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Indeed, Oscar Wilde’s critical writings stand between art and literature, and pose the question of what it means to write about art and literature. Is Oscar Wilde a literary critic or an art critic? Is literary criticism a painterly text of literature and art criticism a literary painting? The confusion of the genre makes Wilde’s art and literary theories difficult to separate and Wilde as well as Ruskin and Pater could be said to possess a holistic vison of art that encompass both literary and artistic theories. This ambivalence between the “two sister arts” is to be found in the Pre-Raphaelites, whose manifesto, The Germ, is a mixed of criticism, reviews, essays, dialogues, poetry and illustrations (the poems were sometimes illustrated by the painters of the group.) Pre-Raphaelite writings possess an ekphrastic quality that brings to mind the notions of ut pictura poesis (as is painting so is poetry) as well as that of poema pictura locguens, pictura poema silens (poetry is a speaking picture, painting a silent poetry). I would argue that the Pre-Raphaelites were the embodiment of the on-going battle between the pen and the brush , and that their theories of art and literature had an influence on Oscar Wilde’s writings, such as The Portrait of Dorian Gray and The Portrait of…show more content…
One critic complained about Wilde's Pen, Pencil and Poison and wrote, "that the joke had gone far enough." Other reviewers wished that Wilde would "get on with thought itself, and dropped his showy paradoxes in order to devote himself to writing something more solid and reasonable." Wilde's Intentions according to Lawrence Danson: " shows the ability to gather up fragments, to call and reply to simultaneously themselves and others like the ' stringed lute on which all winds can play ' or the 'twice written scroll ' of his poem ' Hélas '." Intentions shows the depth of Oscar Wilde's reading of literature and knowledge of previous critical writings. But as Jonathan Freedman's introduction to A collection of Critical Essays shows, Wilde's criticism was long left unstudied, as it was thought to be too flamboyant. His criticism was overshadowed by his personal life: “Ass-thete or aesthete, gay saint or poéte maudit. Those were the roles Wilde played in the classrooms and criticism for most of the twentieth century.” Freedman goes on to say that: “only a few serious accounts of his work could be found, particularly in the later days of new criticism; but it was largely for his flamboyant life and exhibit of ' decadence ' that Wilde was considered.” The interest in Oscar Wilde's critical writings is quite recent and a few

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