The Prose of Oscar Wilde

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Cosimo, Inc., Jan 1, 2005 - Literary Collections - 716 pages
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This collection brings together some of this much-loved writer's prose work. In it, Oscar Wilde touches on a wide range of topics as only he can. He discusses the decay of lying, the critic as artist, and the truth of masks. He provides criticism of productions of works of Shakespeare and other theatrical concerns, such as stage scenery, stage morals, and "plays that are meant to be read, not to be acted." He also devotes his attention to women's issues, such as novels and stories written by women and women's achievements. Taken together, readers will discover the incisive wit and unique observations for which Wilde was renowned.OSCAR WILDE (1854-1900) was a celebrated Irish-born playwright, short story writer, poet, and personality in Victorian London. He is best known for his involvement in the aesthetic movement and his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, as well as his many plays, such as Lady Windermere's Fan, The Importance of Being Ernest, A Woman of No Importance, An Ideal Husband, and Salom . During his imprisonment for gross indecency, he wrote De Profundis, and later, The Ballad of Reading Gao.
 

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Contents

I
7
II
57
III
91
IV
143
V
203
VI
243
VII
249
VIII
255
XLI
430
XLII
432
XLIII
433
XLIV
436
XLV
441
XLVI
445
XLVII
448
XLVIII
450

IX
260
X
265
XI
268
XII
272
XIII
278
XIV
285
XV
293
XVI
301
XVII
303
XVIII
313
XIX
323
XX
335
XXI
349
XXII
359
XXIII
367
XXIV
379
XXV
381
XXVI
383
XXVII
389
XXVIII
390
XXIX
392
XXX
395
XXXI
396
XXXII
397
XXXIII
398
XXXIV
401
XXXV
402
XXXVI
403
XXXVII
405
XXXVIII
415
XXXIX
425
XL
427
XLIX
452
LI
453
LII
455
LIII
457
LIV
458
LV
460
LVI
462
LVII
465
LVIII
466
LIX
468
LX
471
LXI
473
LXII
474
LXIII
478
LXIV
479
LXVI
480
LXVII
487
LXVIII
488
LXIX
491
LXX
507
LXXI
510
LXXII
513
LXXIII
518
LXXIV
522
LXXV
529
LXXVI
539
LXXVII
547
LXXVIII
553
LXXIX
557
LXXX
565
LXXXI
569
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About the author (2005)

Flamboyant man-about-town, Oscar Wilde had a reputation that preceded him, especially in his early career. He was born to a middle-class Irish family (his father was a surgeon) and was trained as a scholarship boy at Trinity College, Dublin. He subsequently won a scholarship to Magdalen College, Oxford, where he was heavily influenced by John Ruskin and Walter Pater, whose aestheticism was taken to its radical extreme in Wilde's work. By 1879 he was already known as a wit and a dandy; soon after, in fact, he was satirized in Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience. Largely on the strength of his public persona, Wilde undertook a lecture tour to the United States in 1882, where he saw his play Vera open---unsuccessfully---in New York. His first published volume, Poems, which met with some degree of approbation, appeared at this time. In 1884 he married Constance Lloyd, the daughter of an Irish lawyer, and within two years they had two sons. During this period he wrote, among others, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), his only novel, which scandalized many readers and was widely denounced as immoral. Wilde simultaneously dismissed and encouraged such criticism with his statement in the preface, "There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all." In 1891 Wilde published A House of Pomegranates, a collection of fantasy tales, and in 1892 gained commercial and critical success with his play, Lady Windermere's Fan He followed this comedy with A Woman of No Importance (1893), An Ideal Husband (1895), and his most famous play, The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). During this period he also wrote Salome, in French, but was unable to obtain a license for it in England. Performed in Paris in 1896, the play was translated and published in England in 1894 by Lord Alfred Douglas and was illustrated by Aubrey Beardsley. Lord Alfred was the son of the Marquess of Queensbury, who objected to his son's spending so much time with Wilde because of Wilde's flamboyant behavior and homosexual relationships. In 1895, after being publicly insulted by the marquess, Wilde brought an unsuccessful slander suit against the peer. The result of his inability to prove slander was his own trial on charges of sodomy, of which he was found guilty and sentenced to two years of hard labor. During his time in prison, he wrote a scathing rebuke to Lord Alfred, published in 1905 as De Profundis. In it he argues that his conduct was a result of his standing "in symbolic relations to the art and culture" of his time. After his release, Wilde left England for Paris, where he wrote what may be his most famous poem, The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898), drawn from his prison experiences. Among his other notable writing is The Soul of Man under Socialism (1891), which argues for individualism and freedom of artistic expression. There has been a revived interest in Wilde's work; among the best recent volumes are Richard Ellmann's, Oscar Wilde and Regenia Gagnier's Idylls of the Marketplace , two works that vary widely in their critical assumptions and approach to Wilde but that offer rich insights into his complex character.

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