Tag Archives: Art and Nature

Spectrum of Human Nature

“The fat knight has his moods of melancholy , and the young prince his moments of coarse humor. Where we differ from each other is purely in accidentals: in dress, manner, tone of voice, religious opinions, personal appearance, tricks of habit, and the like. The more one analyses people, the more all reasons for analysis disappear. Sooner or later one comes to that dreadful thing called human nature. Indeed, as any one who has ever worked among the poor knows only too well, the brotherhood of man is no mere poet’s dream, it is a most depressing and humiliating reality; and if a writer insists upon analysing the upper classes, he might just as well write of match-girls and costermongers at once.”

Oscar Wilde. “The Decay of Lying.” In Intentions. New York: Brentano’s, 1905. Internet Archive. http://archive.org/details/intentionsdecayo00wild. 3–55 (PDF pages 33–85).

The Decay of Lying

“If we take Nature to mean natural simple instinct as opposed to self-conscious culture, the work produced under this influence is always old-fashioned, antiquated, and out of date. One touch of Nature may make the whole world kin, but two touches of nature will surely destroy any work of Art. If on the other hand, we regard Nature as the collection of phenomenon external to man, people only discover in her what they bring to her. She has no suggestions of her own” ( Wilde, 485).


Richter, David H., ed. The Critical Tradition: Classic Texts and Contemporary Trends. 3rd ed. Boston: Bedford / St. Martin’s, 2007.

This excerpt seems to fall in line with the comment Vivian makes about Impressionists influencing the fog in London, “One does not see anything until one sees  its beauty. Then, and then only, does it come into existence.” It is interesting that the fogs of the time were often caused by human influence (pollution). So then, is it really nature?