The Underlying Tension in Oscar Wilde’s “The Decay of Lying”

Sara Tóth Martínez

Affiliation: Complutense University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain

Keywords: Oscar Wilde, Socratic Dialogue, The Decay of Lying, Drama

Categories: News and Views, Humanities, Social Sciences and Law, Visual Arts, Architecture and Design

DOI: 10.17160/josha.11.2.960

Languages: English

The object of study of this paper is The Decay of Lying by Oscar Wilde. In The Decay of Lying, Wilde presents the four main theses of his aesthetic philosophy that are the following: Art never expresses anything but itself, all bad Art comes from returning to Life and Nature and elevating them into ideals, Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life, Lying, the telling of beautiful untrue things, is the proper aim of Art. (Wilde 1905, 83-85) These are presented in the form of a Socratic Dialogue. Plato creates this form to present transcendent truths. (Puchner 2010, 30-35) According to Quintus, the aesthetic philosophy of Wilde already creates a tension between the content and the form. (Quintus 1980, 559) This gets accentuated when it comes to the Socratic Dialogue. In this paper, I explore the dimensions of this question, if there is tension, and how Wilde plays with it. I conclude that Wilde, using the Socratic Dialogue, transforms and adapts it to his philosophy.

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