Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin in 1854.
He studied at Oxford and became a disciple of Walter Pater, the theorist of Aestheticism in England accepting the theory of ‘Art for Art’s Sake’.
He then moved to London, where he became a celebrity for his extraordinary wit (spirit, humor) and his dress as a ‘dandy’.
He also did a tour in the United States, where he gave some lectures about the Pre-Raphaelites and the Aesthetes; the tour was a great success for Wilde, who became famous for his irony, his attitudes and his poses.
He then went back to Europe and married Constance Lloyd.
He was also a great talker, he participated to many events in London.
Wilde wrote many short stories for his children, but also wrote an important novel ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’.
After his first and only novel, he developed an interest in drama and recovered/renewed the comedy of manners.
He produced also a series of plays, but those, with the tragedy ‘Salomé’, damaged the writer’s reputation, as they were considered immoral.
In 1891 he met Alfred Douglas, with whom Wilde had a homosexual affair.
Douglas’ father forced for a public trial and Wilde was sentenced to two years of hard labour.
When he was released, he was a broken man; his wife refused to see him, so he went into exile in France, where he lived his last years in poverty.
He died of meningitis in Paris in 1900.
-The Rebel and the Dandy-
Wilde lived in the role of the rebel and dandy.
The dandy must be distinguished from the bohemian: while the bohemian allies himself to the rural or urban proletariat, the dandy is a bourgeois artist, who remains a member of his class.
The Wildean Dandy is an aristocratic, whose elegance is a symbol of the superiority of his spirit; he uses his wit to shock, and is an individualist who demands absolute freedom.
Life for the Dandy was meant for pleasure.
Wilde’s interest in beauty had no moral stance.
He affirmed in the Preface of his novel: ‘There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all’.
-Art for Art’s Sake-
Wilde believed that only ‘Art as the cult of Beauty’ could prevent the murder of the soul.
He wrote only to pleasure himself and was not concerned in communicating his theories to his fellow-beings.