Friday, January 14

transcript: the aim of Oscar Wilde

Carson: You are of opinion, I believe, that there is no such thing as an immoral book?Trials of Oscar Wilde

Wilde: Yes.

Carson: Am I right in saying that you do not consider the effect in creating morality or immorality?

Wilde: Certainly I do not.

Carson: So far as your works are concerned, you pose as not being concerned about morality or immorality?

Wilde: I do not know whether you use the word 'pose' in any particular sense.

Carson: It is a favourite word of your own.

Wilde: Is it? I have no pose in this matter. In writing a play or book I am concerned entirely with literature; that is, with art. I aim not at doing good or evil, but in trying to make a thing that will have some quality or form of beauty or wit.

Carson: This is in your introduction to Dorian Gray: 'There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all.' That expresses your view?

Wilde: My view on art, yes.

Carson: Then I take it that no matter how immoral a book may be, if it is well written it is, in your opinion, a good book?

Wilde: Yes: if it were well written so as to produce a sense of beauty, which is the highest sense of which a human being can be capable. If it were badly written it would produce a sense of disgust.

-- Regina v. Queensberry in Trials of Oscar Wilde by H. Montgomery Hyde