The artists is the creator of beautiful things.To reveal art and conceal that artist is art's aim.The critic it he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.The highest, as the lowest, form of criticism is a model of autobiography.Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are cultivated. For these there is hope.They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only beauty.There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book.Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.[...]No artist has ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style.No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything. Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art.From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of the musician. From the point of view of feeling, the actor's craft is the type.All art is at once surface and symbol.Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirros.When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself.We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.All are it quite useless.
This intriguing paragraph comes from the preface to this shattering book called, "The Picture of Dorian Gray", the only novel Oscar Wilde wrote.
IMHO, this is the most difficult novel I ever set my eyes upon. And I won't be surprised when I am done reading it, if it turns out to be the most beautiful one!
To an admirer of his novel, Oscar Wilde wrote, "I am so glad you like that strange coloured book of mine: it contains much of me in it. Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world things of me: Dorian what I would like to be-- in other ages, perhaps."
It is quite possible that he meant "in other pages, perhaps". But unfortunately, that was not supposed to be. This remained his only novel!