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Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900)

Lifespan: 1854 - 1900

Related: dandy - gay fiction - British literature - Aestheticism (art movement)

Best known for: The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)

Oscar Wilde at about thirty

"It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible." - Oscar Wilde, in a letter

"It's absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious." -- Oscar Wilde in Lady Windemere's Fan

On May 25, 1895 Wilde was convicted of gross indecency -- a euphemism for any homosexual act, public or private -- and sentenced to two years' hard labour. His conviction angered some observers, one of whom demanded, in a published letter, "Why does not the Crown prosecute every boy at a public or private school or half the men in the Universities?" this in reference to the presumed pederastic proclivities of English upperclassmen.

In the Wasp, Bierce attacked Wilde as the sovereign of unsufferables, an eneffable dunce with nothing to say, a hateful impostor, a stupid blockhead, an offensively daft crank, an intellectual jellyfish, a man with no thoughts and no thinker, a gawky gowk, the littlest and looniest of a brotherhood of simpletons, an idiot who would argue with a cast-iron dog, a speaker with the eloquence of a caller on a hog-ranch, a dunghill he-hen who would fly with eagles.


Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (October 16, 1854 - November 30, 1900) was an Anglo-Irish playwright, novelist, poet, and short story writer. One of the most successful playwrights of late Victorian London, and one of the greatest celebrities of his day, known for his barbed and clever wit, he suffered a dramatic downfall and was imprisoned after being convicted in a famous trial of "gross indecency" for his homosexuality. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_Wilde [Jun 2005]

His role in the aesthetic and decadent movements

[W]hile at Magdalen College, Wilde became particularly well known for his role in the aesthetic and decadent movements. He began wearing his hair long and openly scorning so-called "manly" sports, and began decorating his rooms with peacock feathers, lilies, sunflowers, blue china and other objets d'art. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_Wilde


Teleny, a homoerotic short novel believed by some scholars to have been written by Oscar Wilde, was published anonymously in the year of Wilde's trial, and has been ignored by most editors of Wilde's works. Nowadays literature rates it as an important antipole to the prudish idealism of the neo-classic and neo-romantic lyric love poetry of the fin de siècle: a work of unmasking the cynical double moral standards of the Victorian era. The love of Camille and Teleny is shattered by social reprisals. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teleny [Jan 2005]

Salome & Under the Hill - Oscar Wilde, Aubrey Beardsley

Salome & Under the Hill - Oscar Wilde, Aubrey Beardsley [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

This joint centennial edition of Salome and Under the Hill, united by seventeen of Beardsley's unsurpassable drawings, is a timely rehabilitation of these two all-too-often ignored fin-de-siecle texts, and constitues a volume of unadulterated Decadent Erotica which must surely stand as the apogee of its kind. [...]

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