Essay discussing the validity of critics as well as Oscar Wilde in defense of his literary work "A Portrait of Dorian Gray."

Essay by Agordon November 2003

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Andrew Gordon

August 28, 2003

One of the most ruthless leaders of the post-enlightened world, Napoleon Bonaparte, noted in his maxims that "Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets." Herein, Napoleon makes it abundantly clear of the effect of critics and there influence to readers; they could turn armies or simply stop the reading of a book. The remarkably erudite - himself a critic - Oscar Wilde, in a modernly unheard of manner, retorted to his critics. Using the columnist's weapon, Wilde publicly submitted his responses to newspapers to seemingly raze their established contentions. One such example is the St. James Gazette's (June 26,1890) views and the respective negation on behalf of Wilde (June 27, 1890).

At the core of the debate in regard to validity of each side, it is imperative to analyze the motive or purpose of publication. Wilde submitted his letters of opposition to defend his work; much as Basil had placed too much of himself in Dorian Gray's portrait, it is plausible that Wilde too deposited too much of himself into the novel.

Aside from personal vanity and inherent feelings towards the novel, Wilde also used the paper as a forum for advertisement. As well, to dispute the Gazette's proclamation that the book should not be read. In defense of the Gazette, there is little intrinsic bias except that of ignorance or "personal malice."

The notion of personal malice is a direct attack on the legitimacy of the Gazette's critical analysis. In response to Wilde originally bringing to the forefront this point, the paper retorts exceptionally condescendingly; noting that such a statement is "unworthy" of Wilde being a "literary gentleman." In this instance the tone shifts towards sarcasm; considering Wilde still as a "gentleman" yet he bluntly exhibiting a...