4. Oscar Wilde

1. Biography

Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin in 1854. He was sent to Oxford where he gained a first-class degree in Classics and distinguished himself for his eccentricity. 

He became a disciple of Walter Pater, the theorist of aestheticism in England. Wilde defined himself as ‘a man who stood in symbolic relations to art and culture’. After graduating, he left Oxford and settled in London where he soon became a dandy. 

In 1881 Wilde edited ‘Poems’ and he was engaged for a tour in the United States where he held some lectures about the Pre-Raphaelites and the Aesthetes. This tour was a remarkable personal success. 

On his return to Europe in 1883, he married Constance Lloyd who bore him two children. At this point of his career, his presence became a social event and his remarks appeared in most of fashionable London magazines. 

In the late 1880s Wilde’s literary talent was revealed by a series of short stories: The Canterville Ghost, Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime, The Happy Prince and Other Tales and The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891). 

In the 1890s he produced a series of plays which were successful on the London stage. Both novels and tragedies damaged the writer’s reputation. 

In 1891 he met the young and handsome Lord Alfred Douglas with whom Wilde dared to have a homosexual affair. The boy’s father forced a public trial and Wilde was convicted of homosexual practices and sentenced to two-year hard labour. In prison he wrote ‘De Profundis’, a long letter to explain his life and to condemn Douglas for abandoning him. 

When Wilde was released from prison, he lived in France under an assumed name as an outcast in poverty. He died of meningitis in Paris in 1900. 

2. A professor of Aesthetic

Wilde lived in a double role of rebel and dandy. The dandy must be distinguished from the bohemian: while the bohemian allies hi...

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