13 August (1860): Oscar Wilde to W.E. Henley

If a man sees the artistic beauty of a thing, he will probably care very little for its ethical import. If his temperament is more susceptible to ethical than to aesthetic influences, he will be blind to questions of style, treatment, and the like. It takes a Goethe to see a work of art fully, completely, and perfectly, and I thoroughly agree with Mr Whibley when he says that it is a pity that Goethe never had an opportunity of reading Dorian Gray. I feel quite certain that he would have been delighted by it…

Staff Picks: Ventura, The Appendix, Georges Perec

In the wake of Knausgaard’s My Struggle, it would be easy to pull a Person of the Year and inaugurate “the self” as the exemplary character of contemporary narrative. But this maneuver would too readily stoke the rage that lies beneath the widespread claim that we are all narcissists now.