As shown in previous posts, I love me some Oscar Wilde. The Picture of Dorian Gray is one of my favorite novels for its verbal aestheticism and its abundance of Wildian wit. It was my introduction to the all too human legend that was Mr. Wilde. He seduced me with his language much like Lord Henry seduced the young, naive Dorian into a life of hedonism and aestheticism. Except I’m not a heartless hedonist. And I didn’t sell my soul and age to the devil.
Oscar Wilde was the King of the Aesthetes. He championed “art for art’s sake” and the soulful importance of beauty. In his preface to TPoDG, he writes,
Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty.
In the 1890s, Oscar Wilde was put on trial for his crimes of libel and homosexuality, which at the time was considered as lowly and sinful as bestiality. Even under the threat of imprisonment, Wilde remained as witty and eloquent as ever.
Watch the brilliant Stephen Fry (a sort of modern Wilde) defend himself and “the love that dare not speak it’s name” from Wilde:
Learn more about THE MAN here.