Lying, the telling of beautiful untrue things, is the proper aim of art, Oscar Wilde wrote in his 1891 essay on the subject. The reason: According to the Irish poet and playwright, life imitates art, making it important to elevate lofty ideas, even if untrue, rather than dwelling on mundane facts that only get in the way. Wilde wasn't writing about journalism or politics. He was kvetching about the declining quality of literature. But he might be surprised how widely his observations about lies and life 130 years ago apply today.
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