The aesthetic movement and Wilde (riassunto)
At the end of nineteenth century, a new movement was developed as a reaction to Victorian materialistic values: the aesthetic movement. It reflected the sense of frustration of the artist, his refusal to the materialism and his need to redefine the role of art. The motto of this new movement was “art for art’s sake”: the artist wanted to contemplate beauty and art. The exponents of this artistic movement conceived life as a work of art: it had to be lived in beauty and art. The origins of the aesthetic movement can be traced back to the Pre-Raphaelism, an artistic movement developed in the 1840s, which wanted to abolish the rules of victorian age. They rejected the academic values and the italian art of thirteenth and fourteenth century, combining the concept of life, art and beauty.
Walter Pater is considered the theorist of the aesthetic movement in England. He took up the idea according to which beauty is truth. He rejected the religious fate and thought that art had nothing to do with morality and for this reason it mustn’t be taught. The main features of the aesthetic movement were the evocative use of language and the absence of any didactic aim. Walter Pater’s works had a deep influence on writers, especially Oscar Wilde. He wrote a lot of short stories, like The ghost of Canterville, a lot of plays, like for example The importance of being Earnest, and novels, like The picture of Dorian Gray. Both tragedies that novels damaged it because of the controversial themes discussed. In 1892 he met an english nobleman, Alfred Douglas, whit whom he undertook a relationship. He was imprisoned and in jail he wrote a work to explain his life: De Profundis. Wilde is considered the principal exponent of the aesthetic movement and he welcomed the idea according to exist a correspondence between physical and moral values, theme discussed in “The picture of Dorian Gray”.