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The Critic as Artist (Upon the Importance of Doing Nothing and Discussing Everything) [Paperback]

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Item Number 384970  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   115
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8" Width: 5" Height: 0.29"
Weight:   0.3 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 15, 2007
Publisher   Mondial
ISBN  1595690824  
EAN  9781595690821  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
"Criticism is itself an art." This is one of the singular arguments in what must be one of Oscar Wilde's most compelling critical dialogues ever published. The Critic as Artist explores Wilde's defense of criticism through sharp, witty dialogue and riveting, thoughtful arguments. This theoretical dialogue uses prime examples to discuss many elements, such as criticism as an art form, the true definition of a critic, criticism's value over art, and more. A special treasure for admirers of Wilde and a welcome addition to any bookshelf, The Critic as Artist exemplifies the playwright's witty look on the world and his true love of art. --- About the author: Born in Dublin, Ireland in 1854, Oscar Wilde went on to become a prominent playwright, poet, and novelist all throughout the late Victorian Age. His many accomplishments in the field of writing have earned him praise as one of the most successful authors and playwrights of his era and beyond. He died in Paris in 1900 at the age of 46.

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More About Oscar Wilde

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Poet and playwright Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) remains best known for his comedies of the 1890s, including The Importance of Being Earnest, and for his tragic imprisonment and untimely death.

Oscar Wilde lived in Dublin. Oscar Wilde was born in 1854 and died in 1900.

Oscar Wilde has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Dover Thrift Editions

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Product Categories
1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > English > British Literature   [1442  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Authors, A-Z > ( W ) > Wilde, Oscar   [240  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > History & Criticism > Criticism & Theory > General   [7244  similar products]
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > British > Classics > Wilde, Oscar   [364  similar products]
5Books > Subjects > Reference > Writing > Nonfiction   [68  similar products]

Reviews - What do our customers think?
The Critic's Critic as Artist  Oct 19, 2008
Wilde was glib, and most ages, including ours, don't like that. Today Wilde would end up in a holding cell in Guantanamo Bay pretty quickly, and I'm not sure if I would object. He was a man made for easy times, when one never had to hunker down and say "this is the truth and from this I will not budge." He was, as his hero Meredith says of someone, perhaps Moliere, a sparkling stream--playful, perfectly beautiful and yet somewhat shallow.

And for this reason he is largely ignored as a serious thinker, left for the theater-folks and other phonies to read alone. But I think that we need to take seriously his work, for he is one of the few folks who have the ability to see the honesty in the actor and the phoniness in the hero. And it is in particular his piece "The Critic as Artist" that I want to consider here. This is a didactic dialogue, with our old friend "Ernest" as the straight man. Although Wilde delights in confounding poor Ernest with cleverness, there is a deep point he is making. First, that it is easy to do, and hard to describe. Any drunken savage could carry out any of the "great" acts that are the pivotal moments in a Greek drama. What is so amazing about stabbing someone in the back? But it takes a great person to turn this into an act of heroism or of tragedy, and thus it is the artist, not the actor, who is the source of the greatness.

But the same logic applies to the critic, for he stands to the artist as the artist stands to the actor. Just as the artist re-makes the act, so the critic redefines the art. And just as there is artistic license, so there is critical license--the carte blanche to distort the works of others in the service of one's own genius. It is not simply that an esthete can "play" with others ideas like a cat with a mouse. It is that, but it is also that it is hardly ever clear what things are, even the things we make ourselves. The critic who lets us see what something is, is the one who first brings it to life in this "isness."

And I think every reviewer for this site will appreciate this part of Wilde's thesis--for we recognize that we are more than street sweepers cleaning up after some astronaut's ticker-tape parade. We cannot necessarily claim precedence over every writer, let alone every mouse-trap inventor or chocolatier, whose works we review. Yet at our best, we do change what is there. Can we ever look at the Children's Econo-Goggles the same way after reading LabRat8090's wistful reflections?

I don't mean to toot my own horn here, but--toot toot!--I had been gone from the reviewing scene for quite some time, and had frankly been discouraged, feeling that my efforts weren't really being appreciated. And to my surprise, I found that my rank, which had been drifting downwards, had skyrocketed from 393,000 to 66,000! For those of you who aren't part of the "scene," this may seem trivial, but moving up is like climbing a cliff--every inch hurts and you need to always keep your foothold. No one ever breaks into four figures without whoring after the most commonly looked at products--your iPhone accessories, the Courtney Love unauthorized biographies, the Cornel West rap album and so on. And once you get there, it gets rough. People start saying that their competitors' reviews were "unhelpful" and trying to go outside their ratings (get more extreme so you'll come up as `most helpful negative').

So how could it be that without any politicking, any dragging down of others, fortune smiles on me? I think that Wilde was perhaps correct--the future belongs to criticism. And the thing about the great critic, if I can put words in his mouth, is that he reveals the imperfections in the things that he criticizes by casting the cool light of objectivity on them. With such a clear light, minor flaws can be clearly seen. But where does the light come from? Why, from no one other than the critic himself! He is the light source--and the fuel for his lamp's objective light is his own genius, his own passion. Although I pride myself on focusing on the product, the key drawbacks and advantages for the general consumer, one cannot do this without putting one's SELF in. And then the object is a new object.

Wilde ends this piece by saying that the dreamer is he who can find his way only by moonlight, and who has the punishment of seeing the dawn before other men. Can the critic be a dreamer? Moonlight is definitely not as good as sunlight for bringing flaws to the surface. Which is why, by the way, you should beware of making a commitment to someone you fall in love with on a patio outside a large event under moonlight. But that's a different story! And one that doesn't help us in our consideration of this work at hand, and hence has no place here. I see the dawn! [55]

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