The Decay of Lying

‘She is our creation.’

Oscar Wilde’s The Decay of Lying, originally published in 1889, is reproduced without permission, but is now in the public domain. You can copy it too, as long as you don’t sell it.


Vivian: My dear fellow, I am prepared to prove anything.

Cyril: Nature follows the landscape painter, then, and takes her effects from him?

Vivian: Where, if not from the Impressionists, do we get those wonderful brown fogs that come creeping down our streets, blurring the gas-lamps and changing the houses into monstrous shadows? To whom, if not to them and their master, do we owe the lovely silver mists that brood over our river, and turn to faint forms of fading grace curved bridge and swaying barge? The extraordinary change that has taken place in the climate of London during the last ten years is entirely due to a particular school of art.

Consider the matter from a scientific or metaphysical point of view, for what is nature? Nature is no great mother who has borne us. She is our creation. It is in our brain that she quickens to life.

The Decay of Lying (2004) [1889], p. 36


Publication: The Decay of Lying by Oscar Wilde, 1889
Project: Edited and typeset by Elena Grossman and reproduced in an edition of 25, December 2004.
Typography: The typeface is Mrs. Eaves, released by Zuzana Licko/Emigré in 1996 and based on Baskerville, a face designed by John Baskerville in the mid-18th century.

By Elena Grossman

Elena Grossman is an artist and educator practicing visual art, graphic design, and programming for exhibition spaces, print, and screen media. Learn more about Elena