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Space to Think, a new book celebrating ten years of the Dublin Review of Books More Information 

The Function of Frogs and Princes

Jeanette Winterson, in The Guardian (October 19th), is writing on Oscar Wilde and in particular “The Selfish Giant”.

Wilde’s Giant is both fairytale giant and Victorian industrialist. Wilde hated the hoarding and excesses of his epoch’s materialism – not because he was a socialist, but because his whole endeavour, his cult of art and beauty, was a fight against the coarsening of the soul. [...]
In An Ideal Husband, Lord Goring tells the devoted but puritan Lady Chiltern, “I have sometimes thought that perhaps you are a little hard in some of your views on life ... It is love, and not German philosophy, that is the true explanation of this world, whatever may be the explanation of the next.”
And so, when Richard Dawkins says in all seriousness, “so many of the stories I read allowed the possibility of frogs turning into princes, whether that has a sort of insidious effect on rationality, I’m not sure,” we know he has made a category error.
Reason and logic are tools for understanding the world. We need a means of understanding ourselves too. That is what imagination allows.