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The Critic as Artist

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  893 ratings  ·  59 reviews
Published originally in 1881, The Critic As Artist is one of Oscar Wilde's major aesthetic statements. ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published October 1st 1997 by Green Integer (first published 1891)
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Average rating 4.14  · 
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Sean Barrs
Apr 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: book reviewers
I’ve just been inspired.

As if my admiration for this man, for this genius, couldn’t get any higher. Wilde…..Wilde is wonderful. Wonderful Wilde, that’s what I’m going to call him from now on. Wonderful Wilde offers a very compelling argument in here. Being a literary critic and a reviewer of art are officious and useless things, according to one his characters in here; thus, Wonderful Wilde sets himself up for a brutal counter attack. As hapless Ernest questions:

"Why should those who cannot cre
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
For who is the true critic but he who bears within himself the dreams, and ideas, and feelings of myriad generations, and to whom no form of thought is alien, no emotional impulse obscure? And who the true man of culture, if not he who by fine scholarship and fastidious rejection has made instinct self-conscious and intelligent, and can separate the work that has distinction from the work that has it not, and so by contact and comparison makes himself master of the secrets of style and school
Jan 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
art is empty. as it exists, separated from its creator and context, it carries no inherent meaning; it exists and people engage with it, not as itself, but as they understand it. and so a piece of art is both meaningless and full of infinite meaning, something different to every person that touches it, something different every time it is experienced.
Aug 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After finishing this essay, I rated it three stars. Upon going through my annotations again and reading all of Wilde's wonderful witticisms, I had to bump it up to four stars. Here's just a little taste of them:
# An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.

# When people agree with me I always feel that I must be wrong.

# There is no sin except stupidity.
How can I not love this man? The Critic as Artist is an essay by Oscar Wilde, containing the most extensive stat
Momina Masood
Jun 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those who think outside the box or appreciate the ones who do
Criticism as an Art Form:

I assume it is widely known how witty and outlandish Wilde can get. Well, here, he simply outdoes himself; more so, because this isn't fiction and what he says here, he very well means it.

The Critic as Artist is more than one of Wilde's aesthetic statements: it is an unprecedented attempt at defending, not art or literature as has been the tradition, but criticism! The critic is hailed as being someone greater than the artist and if that does not pique your interest the
Bryn Hammond
Oct 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Extra star because every sentence is cadenced.
Extra star for wit, of course, plus a touch of postmodernity.
The title comes of Ernest's argument (was it Ernest or the other chap with the suitable name? - it was Gilbert) a) that artists are critics: without the critical function they do not want to improve on or change the art that went before. This is perfectly true; b) critics are creative: often a modern novel or painting is a dreary affair, yet can kickstart the critic on a creative ramble of
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a short play forming a discussion on the role of the critic and of the importance of leading a contemplative life. Wilde brings this to life brilliantly and I really enjoyed it. However, there were a few too many classical and mythological references for my liking.
Dec 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's clear that i love Oscar Wilde. With this one i was inspired... ...more
Mar 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, on-writing
The Critic as Artist is an essay written in the form of a dialogue between Ernest, who believes that criticism is easy, worthless and art-killing, and Gilbert, who is certain that criticism is a separate form of art. Gilbert states that being a critic can be (and normally is) more challenging than creating a masterpiece. Prior to reading this book, I had the same views as Ernest, but now I'm not so sure. Gilbert's reasoning seems logical, but nowadays the uniqueness of each individual and the im ...more
José Cruz Parker
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"It is to criticism that the future belongs. The subject-matter at the disposal of creation becomes every day more limited in extent and variety"

This platonic dialogue is, perhaps, not as perfect as The Decay of Lying insofar as the latter is more concise and contains less digression. But The Critic as Artist is, like most of Wilde's works, infinitely quotable. Literally every page contains a beautiful paradox, an interesting maxim, or a delightful aphorism.
Jul 19, 2010 rated it liked it
Everything Wilde writes feels kind of like a giant piss-take, and I love it.
Wendelin St Clair
Nov 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
As with everything Wilde wrote, fabulously quotable, dubiously reliable. As a showcase for Wilde's signature wit, it is charming, as an actual guide to literary criticism, it is worthless, but in the most delightful way possible. One is conscious that he wrote these things not because he believed them, or even because he expected people to believe that he believed them, but simply because they sounded clever. That really is what constitutes wit, as opposed to wisdom.

As far as this is concerned:

Annie Monson
Content: Really interesting. It asks many questions about art, thought, Culture, education, the contemplative life. What is the domain of a painter versus a poet? What is the highest art? Is criticism itself a creative art? How do morality and art mix? What qualities a true critic? What is the intellectual life?

Form: Really interesting. Written as a long nighttime conversation between two men, Gilbert & Ernest. Ernest asks all the questions, and Gilbert waxes. Absolutely could use an editor, bu
Melissa  Jeanette
This was a fun way to read philosophy. It's a written as a conversation between two men that's reminiscent of dialogues with Plato. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in literary criticism or art. As an added bonus, it's a really fast read too. ...more
Aislinn Forrest
Feb 03, 2021 rated it it was ok
To clever for me 🤣
Abraham Lewik
Aug 14, 2018 rated it liked it
This is great, a bit patchy in moments but otherwise great. My expectations of Oscar Wilde are vindicated, his posthumous renown is earnt.
Rebecca Gross
One of my favorite books of all time. Art mimics life and life mimics art in this traditional Wildean dialogue piece.
Alexandra Paiva
Jul 16, 2014 rated it liked it
As the title conveys, "The artist as critic" is an essay by Oscar Wilde where, in a dialogue between character’s Ernest and Gilbert, the author examines the function of the Critic in relation to art as its very own creative process.

It starts out on grounds of utter ignorance. Here, Ernest will state that "In the best days of art there were no art-critics". Indeed, according to him, Art appeared by the messianic hand of the artist who graced an audience that " when it saw it, worshipped and was d
Harkeerat Dhunda
Nov 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is a person who can find his way only by moonlight, and his punishment is that he has to see the dawn before the rest of the world."
This detailed essay was a very insightful one!
I didn't lose my interest in reading this even for a moment, the abstract ideas and intriguing theories give the mind so much to think on.
First off, this essay totally flipped my opinion on criticisms. I've always perceived it as something hurtful and vexing but I now believe that
Jan 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Making this a 4.34/5

One day I will stop Wilde fangirling, but that'll probably be once I have exhausted material of his to read
(Hmm... which is to be rather soon, a bridge I shall cross when they've blown half of it away I suppose).

In either case, Wilde essentially re-configures the essay into a conversation between two men (or at least the usual Wilde version of a dialogue in which one character voraciously extols his provocative opinions while the other innocent canvas has his opinions take a
Aug 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: criticism, victorian
ERNEST: You have told me many strange things tonight, Gilbert. You have told me that it is more difficult to talk about a thing than to do it, and that to do nothing at all is the most difficult thing in the world; you have told me that all Art is immoral, and all thought dangerous; that criticism is more creative than creation, and the highest criticism is that which reveals in the work of Art what the artist had not put there; that it is exactly because a man cannot do a thing that he is the p ...more
This is like one super-long essay on art & art criticism, presented as a dialogue between two dudes. Very philosophical, and some very good points made by Wilde, but not very fun to read. I tried to get more into it, but it was no use: I still nodded off a few times. I finished it, though.

The level of excitement found here reminded me a lot of Albert Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays, and that's not a good thing!
Aug 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whew what a heavy intense read! The Critic as Artist is an intellectual, highly philosophical, enlightening and thought-provoking dialogue/discussion with regard to the roles played by the artistic, literary and aesthetic critic and criticism. It intimidates me a bit, that is to say, a lot, due to its depth and intensity; I think I might have to re-read it soon for class to gain a more thorough understanding of the work and to reflect upon it in a more critical manner.
Bistra Ivanova
Nov 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
just great! his views about art are really interesting and his way of putting them is... awesome! i love his sense of humour!
Lachlan Smith
Oct 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Very interesting to begin with, but I couldn't finish it because Wilde did not sustain the interest - however the first few remarks on art-criticism were very thought provoking. ...more
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love him. I actually love him. At first I wasn't expecting to like this as much as The Decay of Lying, or indeed agree with everything, and while I still can't say I absolutely agree with everything, I LOVE this. There is so much more to Aestheticism than I thought; so much desire to make the world a better place. This is like a love letter to literature. There's so much to learn from this. It should be taught in schools. Whatever he thought about teachers, he is truly a teacher and an inspire ...more
Michael Percy
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Oscar Wilde's aesthetic philosophy is set out as a dialogue between Ernest (isn't it always?) and Gilbert (didn't Gilbert and Sullivan fund his lecture tour of the United States?). Of course, Plato used this method to convey his philosophical teachings. Here, Wilde uses the dialogue format to convey his aesthetic philosophy but touches on ethics, virtues, pedagogy, and spirituality. However, with Plato, I expect a dialogue. With Wilde, I couldn't help but think of the poor actors who had to reme ...more
Dec 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
This is a one sided rant disguised as a dialogue, by someone who is much cleverer and more well-read than the assumed reader. A lot of it goes over my head, but I do get the feeling that it is someone trying to convince themselves that they are right, that they are clever, and that their theories are justified and hold water. It makes me feel bad for him somehow.

Cleverer people than I have pointed out that the theories that Wilde espouses in his essays is at odds with the morals exhibited in his
Some real cool ideas. Particularly that criticism is the perfect form of Autobiography, or that you should give a man a mask for them to tell the truth. But it also has a bunch of what is to me, kind of silly things. Criticism is harder than art or that the smartest thing to do is nothing, in particular.

Strong 3 to a light 4.
Helen Murray
Mar 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this for the benefit of around two thesis citations, but it is absolutely PACKED with insights on the value of aesthetic criticism. I find Wilde's contrarian statements and insistence on emotion as an essential mode of critical enquiry deeply appealing. ...more
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Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish playwright, poet, and author of numerous short stories, and one novel. Known for his biting wit, and a plentitude of aphorisms, he became one of the most successful playwrights of the late Victorian era in London, and one of the greatest celebrities of his day. Several of his plays continue to be widely performed, especially The Importance of Being ...more

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