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Wilde, Oscar - Most important characteristics

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) became the embodiment of the Aesthetic movement. He was born in Dublin by a wealthy Protestant family; he attended the college in Dublin and then Oxford, following the lectures of the most important members of the Aesthetic movement, Ruskin and Pater. He led an intense and spectacular social life, and adopted extravagant poses that made him famous. He was then accused of homosexual practices and was imprisoned for two years; when he was released he was poor and unknown.
His first book was a collection of fairytales, “The happy prince and other tales”. He became famous with his theater comedies (such as “The importance of being Earnest”), which are comedies of manners and portrait the superficiality of the time, challenging the Victorian moral code with witty and cynic dialogues.
His most famous work is “The portrait of Dorian Gray”: in this novel, there’s the theme of dualism and even the contrast art-life; in the end, the portrait lives and the human body dies, so there’s the triumph of art over human life. Dorian’s death can also mean that nobody can live among pleasures and crimes without moral implications, because in the end he has to pay for his sins. This story reminds the story of Faust. It’s the novel of the cult of Beauty, the emphasis of senses, the life as a work of art.

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