Short stories
[4/8] The birthday of the Infanta by Oscar Wilde (1891)
“‘Mi bella Princesa, your funny little dwarf will never dance again. It is a pity, for he is so ugly that he might have made the King smile.’
'But why will he not dance again?' asked the Infanta, laughing.
'Because his heart is broken,' answered the Chamberlain.
And the Infanta frowned, and her dainty rose-leaf lips curled in pretty disdain. ‘For the future let those who come to play with me have no hearts,’ she cried, and she ran out into the garden.”
Oscar Wilde’s letter to an Oxford student on the uselessness of art:
My Dear Sir
Art is useless because its aim is simply to create a mood. It is not meant to instruct, or to influence action in any way. It is superbly sterile, and the note of its pleasure is sterility. If the contemplation of a work of art is followed by activity of any kind, the work is either of a very second-rate order, or the spectator has failed to realise the complete artistic impression.
A work of art is useless as a flower is useless. A flower blossoms for its own joy. We gain a moment of joy by looking at it. That is all that is to be said about our relations to flowers. Of course man may sell the flower, and so make it useful to him, but this has nothing to do with the flower. It is not part of its essence. It is accidental. It is a misuse. All this is I fear very obscure. But the subject is a long one.
LITERATURE MEME | 10 works of prose - (10) the picture of dorian gray by oscar wilde
Sin is a thing that writes itself across a man’s face. It cannot be concealed.
Constance and Oscar in the garden of Mr and Mrs Palmer in Reading. Constance stands while her friend Jean Palmer is seated on the ground
This is just a note to say that I’ve changed the theme to something cleaner. I realized that the old theme was a mess, and the text was hard to read, and it was time to change that.
Some years after Wilde’s death, his younger son Vyvyan received a letter from a Frenchman who, as a child, had known Wilde when he was in exile in France, following his release from prison and shortly before his death. In his book Time Remembered, Vyvyan published the contents of the letter:
One Autumn evening, while putting on my overcoat after finishing my meal, I clumsily upset something, perhaps a salt-cellar, on Monsieur Sebastian’s table. He said nothing, but my mother scolded me and told me to apologize, which I did, distressed by my clumsiness. But Monsieur Sebastian turned to my mother and said: ‘Be patient with your little boy. One must always be patient with them. If, one day, you should find yourself separated from him…’ I did not give him time to finish his sentence, but asked him: ‘Have you got a little boy?’ ‘I’ve got two’, he said. ‘Why don’t you bring them here with you?’ My mother interrupted … ‘It doesn’t matter; it doesn’t matter at all,’ he said with a sad smile. ‘They don’t come here with me because they are too far away…’ Then he took my hand, drew me to him and kissed me on both cheeks. I bade him farewell, and then I saw that he was crying. And we left.
While kissing me he had said a few words which I didn’t understand. But on the following day we arrived before him and a bank employee who used to sit at a table on the other side of us asked us: ‘Did you understand what Monsieur Sebastian said last evening?’ ‘No,’ we replied. ‘He said, in English: “Oh, my poor dear boys!”‘
Oscar Wilde photographed by Napoleon Sarony, 1882.
These photographs were taken in January of 1882, when Wilde had first arrived in America for his year long lecture tour. All were taken in the studio of the most famous portrait photographer of the time, Canadian born Napoleon Sarony. The various furs, capes, velvet jackets, and stockings Wilde wore for the photo shoot reflected the attire he would wear to his lectures.
It certainly surprised me when I found out that the majority of Wilde’s most iconic images came from the same session, and were taken in the U.S. when Wilde had only published a yet to be produced play, Vera; or, the Nihilists, and a single book of verse (which Wilde can be seen holding in the first and second photographs).
literature meme: seven characters.
dorian gray from the picture of dorian gray by oscar wilde