The Preface

El retrato de Dorian Gray, del autor Oscar Wilde, fue publicada completa en 1890 en la revista Lippincott´s Monthly Magazine. El editor de la revista temió que la historia fuera indecente y, sin el permiso de Wilde, borró alrededor de quinientas palabras antes de su publicación.
En 1889 J.M. Stoddart, editor de Lippincott, cenaba con Oscar Wilde, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle y T.P. Gill en el hotel Langham para comisionarles que escribieran novelas cortas. Conan Doyle pronto enviaría The Sign of the Four, sin embargo Wilde recién mandaría el manuscrito de El retrato de Dorian Gray en 1890.
Stoddart reconoció los meritos literarios de la novela pero se dio cuenta que ofendería a la moral de la Inglaterra victoriana. Junto a sus editores se dio a la tarea de borrar todo lo que mencionara: 1) pasajes aludiendo a la homosexualidad y al deseo homosexual, 2) todas las referencias al libro de ficción Le Secret de Raoul y su autor, Catulle Sarrazin; y 3) todas las referencias de los amantes de Gray en los que apareciera la palabra “mistress”.
En respuesta Wilde defendió su novela y arte en este prefacio que aparecía en la misma novela,  El retrato de Dorian Gray:


The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim. The critic is 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 mode 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 the 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 an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.
The nineteenth century dislike of realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.
The nineteenth century dislike of romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass. The moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium. No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved. 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. Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for 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 mirrors. Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital. 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 art is quite useless.                                    
OSCAR WILDE        

Vocabulary
Caliban es unos de los principales antagonistas en la obra de Shakespeare The Tempest. Es el hijo subhumano de la malévola bruja Sycorax.
T.P. Gill: Thomas Patrick Gill (1858 – 1931) fue miembro del Irish Parliamentary Party y miembro del parlamento británico. Estudió en el Trinity College, Dublin y llegó a ser periodista.
Related post
El prefacio, traducción de la defensa de Oscar Wilde a su obra, El retrato de Dorian Gray.

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