Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
He lived in a very good background. He was born in Dublin. His father was a doctor and his mother was a nationalist poet. He studies at Trinity College and then at Oxford. He travelled a lot, in Italy and Greece, then he set in London and became a popular dandy. He was influenced by Rossetti’s brothers, Baudelaire, Verlaine and Keats. His famous novel is The Picture of Dorian Gray. The climax of his success, however, were his witty comedies (an example is The importance of Being Earnest).
Then there was a scandal, when the Marquis of Queensberry accused him of being homosexual. He stay two years in prison, during which time he wrote his prose confession “De Profundis”. After his release Wilde emigrated to France, where he lived in poverty and obscurity under an assumed name.
The Preface to the Picture of Dorian Gray is a kind of manifesto of his idea for art. The main principles are: 1) The artist is the creator of beautiful things 2) Art reveal art, not the artist 3) There aren’t moral or immoral book. Books are well written or badly written 4) No artist has ethical sympathies.