From Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (emphasis added):

those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated.

What does "corrupt without being charming" mean in this passage?


I would say it refers to the idea of a slick, snake oil-y salesman: corrupt, but corrupt by charming you out of your money. They sort of find the beauty in the ugly things; smooth it all over until it is palatable. Someone who finds ugly meanings in beautiful things isn't charming at all, but they are still corrupt. Thus, the contrast.

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