Oscar Wilde

oscar wildeI would like you to get a deeper knowledge of one of the greatest writers of all times by listening to Stephen Fry, who played the role of Oscar Wilde in the the film “Wilde”. Try to jot down the things that strike you the most about the writer so that you can share them in class with your classmates.  We are all fascinated by different things, touched by certain words or facts, so I am eager to see what will remain in you of this interview.

Some more Stephen Fry

Which quotation by Oscar Wilde do you like the most? Why?

What made Oscar Wilde’s ideas so “dangerous”?

What ideas of his are relevant to you? Why?

In the interview and in the biography different works by Wilde are mentioned.  You know you have access to them on the web and they are free, so should you ever wish to read works by him we cannot possibly analyse in class together, off you go!

I would like you to choose one of the following websites and find something of your own interest to report to the rest of the class.  Get organized! First you browse the websites.  Skim them to see what catches your attention, write down some of the things that interest you and in class compare your first impressions (this to avoid covering the same topic).  Once you have defined the aspect of Oscar Wilde’s life or production you want to investigate you will be the expert and you will become the teacher.  Looking forward to listening to you!



http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674066960 (Look at the related links)

What is dandyism?


A dandy is a man who places particular importance upon physical appearance, refined language, and leisurely hobbies, pursued with the appearance of nonchalance in a cult of Self. Historically, especially in late 18th- and early 19th-century Britain, a dandy, who was self-made, often strove to imitate an aristocratic lifestyle despite coming from a middle-class background.

Charles Baudelaire, in the later, “metaphysical” phase of dandyism defined the dandy as one who elevates æsthetics to a living religion, that the dandy’s mere existence reproaches the responsible citizen of the middle class: “Dandyism in certain respects comes close to spirituality and to stoicism” and “These beings have no other status, but that of cultivating the idea of beauty in their own persons, of satisfying their passions, of feeling and thinking …. Contrary to what many thoughtless people seem to believe, dandyism is not even an excessive delight in clothes and material elegance. For the perfect dandy, these things are no more than the symbol of the aristocratic superiority of his mind.”

The linkage of clothing with political protest had become a particularly English characteristic during the 18th century.  Given these connotations, dandyism can be seen as a political protestation against the rise of levelling egalitarian principles, often including nostalgic adherence to feudal or pre-industrial values, such as the ideals of “the perfect gentleman” or “the autonomous aristocrat”, though paradoxically, the dandy required an audience, as Susann Schmid observed in examining the “successfully marketed lives” of Oscar Wilde and Lord Byron, who exemplify the dandy’s roles in the public sphere, both as writers and as personae providing sources of gossip and scandal.

(adapted from Wikipedia)

Read the article on what dandysm is all about.  Is it fashionable still nowadays?  Why?

Look at the following image and judge by yourself.



the picture of dorian gray

The role of Aestheticism in Oscar Wilde

During his years at Oxform (from 1874 to 1878) Wilde gained a reputation for his wit, flamboyant dress and eccentric behaviour, as well as attracting hostility because of his aestheticism.  As an undergraduate, he came under the particular influence of two writers, John Ruskin and Walater Pater.  The former was concerned with the moral element in art, while the latter was a dominant force in the aesthetic movement.  Wilde needed the spiritual guidance of Ruskin, but was more excited by Pater’s docrtines.  Even if Wilde poured scorn on the moral significance of art, there is not doubt that there is a conflict in him between the attitudes inherited from Ruskin and those derived from Pater.

In 1889 Wilde published The Portrait of Mr W.H., a story which suggested that Shakespeare wrote his sonnets not for the Earl of Southampton but for a boy actor named William Hughes.  In the same year appeared the importat essay “The Decay of Lying”, which takes the form of a dialogue in which Vivian, Wilde’s spokesman, envisages the possibility of a new Renaissance of Art.  In the conclusion to this dialogue, Vivian describes briefly the doctrines of the new aesthetics: 1. “art never expresses anything but itself”.  Far from being the creation of its time, “it is usually in direct opposition to it”.  Sometimes it revives ancient forms and “at other times it entirely anticipates its age, and produces in one century  work that it takes another century to understand, to appreciate, and to enjoy.  In no case does it reproduce its age”. 2. The second doctrine is that art does not imitate Life and Nature: “The moment Art surrenders its imaginative medium it surrenders everything.” Realism, as represented by Zola, is a complete failure: “Life goes faster than realism, but Romanticism is always in front of life”.  The real decadence is the imosition of life on art, which stifles the imagination and shows us what we have already seen. 3. The third doctrine is that Life imitates Art more than Art imitates Life.  According to Vivian, “the final revelation is that lying, the telling of beautiful untrue things, is the proper aim of Art”.  In all this Wilde is trying to restore to art the power claimed for it by the romantic poets, thta of transforming our perceptions through imagination rather than mereley representing the natural world.

When Oscar Wilde publishes The Picture of Dorian Gray in 1890 he could no longer be said to advocate the doctrine of art for art’s sake.  The preface he wrote in response to the abuse of the novel insists on an aestheticism that the novel itself does not support.  Wilde had written not an apology for but the tragedy of aestheticism, revealing its dangers rather than advocating its doctrine: “A life dedicated to Beauty, so much luxury and so many works of Art, only hides deception and decomposition”. Crime and vice make people coarse and ugly.

A student wrote this  essay examining the use of aestheticism ideas in Oscar Wilde’s novel.  Read it and report in class what you would add to it after our analysis of “The Picture of Dorian Gray”.

Here is a detailed analysis of the novel, it is a video accompanied by the script, so click on the link.

Now I would like you to look at the different trailers to the film adaptations of The Picture of Dorian Gray.  What are the similarities?  What are the main differences?  Which do you like the most and why?


Now listen to this BBC radio 4 programme (Part 1) and jot down why Oscar Wilde was chosen as the writer to talk about.  What does the speaker express about the writer? What is revealed about Oscar Wilde’s private life you did not know before?  What is mentioned about homosexuality in Victorian England? In what way is his private life linked and interconnected with his works? What do the speakers reveal about Wilde’s works?  What do they disagree on? Which speaker do you like better?  The woman or the man?  What do you think about the inverviewer?

Part Two

Part Three

Watch the following video and take notes.  What are the top 10 things you should know about “The Picture of Dorian Gray”?

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Dorian Gray is a handsome, wealthy young man living in 19th century London. While generally intelligent, he is naive and easily manipulated. These faults lead to his spiral into sin and, ultimately, misery.
While posing for a painting by his friend Basil, Dorian meets Basil’s friend Lord Henry Wotton. Wotton is cynical and witty, and tells Dorian that the only life worth living is one dedicated entirely to pleasure. After Wotton convinces Dorian that youth and beauty will bring him everything he desires, Dorian openly wishes that his portrait could age instead of him. He makes this statement in the presence of a certain Egyptian statue, which supposedly has the power to grant wishes.
Dorian visits a tavern, where he falls in love with a beautiful singer named Sibyl Vane. He eventually enters a romance with her (much to the disapproval of Sibyl’s brother), and within weeks they are engaged. Though initially overjoyed, Dorian is again persuaded by Lord Henry to pursue a more hedonistic lifestyle. Dorian sends Sibyl a hurtful letter, breaking off their relationship, and “compensating” her with a large sum of money.
The next morning, Lord Henry informs Dorian that a heartbroken Sibyl Vane had killed herself the night before. Dorian is at first shocked and guilt-ridden, but then adopts Lord Henry’s indifferent manner. He surprises Basil by going to the opera immediately after hearing of Sibyl’s death. Returning home that night, Dorian notices a change in the portrait Basil had painted, which now hangs in his living room. The portrait now looks harsher, and a shaken Dorian has it locked away in his old school room. He becomes even more dedicated to living a sinful and heartless life.
Years later, Dorian is nearing his fortieth birthday, but he looks the same as he did when he was twenty two. The townspeople are awestruck at his unchanging appearance. Over eighteen years of pointless debauchery, the portrait remained locked away, with Dorian holding the only key. Dorian had grown more and more paranoid about the picture being seen by others, and would even fire the servants that he thought might suspect something. Over the years, the painting of the young Dorian had warped into that of a hideous, demon-like creature, to reflect Dorian’s sins. Basil eventually catches a glimpse of the portrait and attempts to talk Dorian into reforming his life. However, Dorian panics and murders his friend, leaving the body locked in the school room with the painting.
Dorian blackmails an old friend into disposing of Basil’s body secretly. He then enters into a romance with Basil’s niece, Gladys, who was a young child when the portrait was painted. Though Gladys had always loved Dorian (and is overjoyed when he proposes marriage), those who were once close to him begin to find him suspicious.
Dorian begins to realize the harm his life is doing to himself and to others. He is assaulted by James Vane, Sibyl’s brother, who had sworn revenge for his sister’s death. Dorian calmly tells James that he is too young to be the same man from eighteen years before. However, James soon learns the truth, but is shot during a hunting party at Dorian’s estate while hiding in the bushes. Dorian knows he is guilty for yet another death, and realizes that he can still spare Gladys from the misfortune he would certainly cause her. After leaving her a letter explaining himself, he returns to his old school room to face the painting. After stabbing his portrait in the heart to be free of its evil spell, Dorian collapses and dies.
Dorian’s body is found, but it is now the monstrous creature from the painting. The portrait once again depicts Dorian as a young, innocent man.

Source: adapted from http://en.wikipedia.org

Click here to get to know more about the novel.

Enjoy this video recap of the novel.  I find it really brilliant.  It is not easy to recap a novel in 8 minutes, isn’t it?

The Picture of Dorian Gray from Thomas Beg on Vimeo.


A scene taken from the film “Wilde”.  How does Wilde explain his love for Bosie?  Who does he compare it to?

De Profundis (Latin: “from the depths”) is an epistle written by Oscar Wilde during his imprisonment in Reading Gaol, to Lord Alfred Douglas. During its first half Wilde recounts their previous relationship and extravagant lifestyle which eventually led to Wilde’s conviction and imprisonment for gross indecency. He indicts both Lord Alfred’s vanity and his own weakness in acceding to those wishes. In the second half, Wilde charts his spiritual development in prison and identification with Jesus Christ, whom he characterises as a romantic, individualist artist.

Wilde’s lengthy prison ‘letter’ to Lord Alfred Douglas is more than a personal message in which Wilde alternates between forgiving and rebuking his selfish, reckless lover. In De Profundis, Wilde elaborates on his philosophical and artistic outlook, and reflects on his place in literature and history. The letter is a soul-searching act of defiance; Wilde shows that he is a resolute individualist who cannot be entirely broken by a hypocritical society. It is both a profoundly personal essay and an unashamedly public letter. In his prison letter, Wilde goes through a range of contradictory moods and tones: contrition, sorrow, defiance, acceptance, tenderness, joy, fury and bitterness. He is at his proudest when claiming to be humbled, and comes across as both fool-hardy and wise, frank and self-deceiving. De Profundis is a heartbreaking confession, an artist’s manifesto, a private diary and a lover’s letter.

Wilde wrote the letter between January and March 1897, close to the end of his imprisonment. Contact had lapsed between Douglas and Wilde and the latter had suffered from his physical labour and emotional isolation; a new warden thought that writing might be more cathartic than prison labour. Wilde’s work was closely supervised and he was not allowed to send the letter, but took it with him upon release, whereupon he entrusted the manuscript to an ex-lover, the journalist Robert Ross, with instructions to have two copies made: one to be sent to the author himself and the other to Douglas. Ross published the letter in 1905, five years after Wilde’s death, giving it the title “De Profundis” from Psalm 130.

In the first part, Wilde examines the time he and Lord Alfred had spent together, from 1892 until Wilde’s trials in the spring of 1895. He examines Lord Alfred’s behaviour and its detrimental effect on Wilde’s work, and recounts Lord Alfred’s constant demands on his attention and hospitality. Poignancy builds throughout this section as Wilde details the expenses of their sumptous dinners and hotel-stays.  Though he was a constant presence at Wilde’s side their relationship was intellectually sterile. Throughout Wilde’s self-accusation is that he acceded to these demands instead of placing himself within quiet, intellectual company dedicated to the contemplation of beauty and ideas, but instead succumbed to an “imperfect world of coarse uncompleted passions, of appetite without distinction, desire without limit, and formless greed”.   This passage concludes with Wilde offering his forgiveness to Douglas. He repudiates him for what Wilde finally sees as his arrogance and vanity; he had not forgotten Douglas’s remark, when he was ill, “When you are not on your pedestal you are not interesting.”

The second part of the letter traces Wilde’s spiritual growth through the physical and emotional hardships of his imprisonment. Wilde introduces the greater context, making a typically grandiose claim: “I was one who stood in symbolic relations to the art and culture of my age,” though he later writes, in a more humble vein, “I have said of myself that I was one who stood in symbolic relations to the art and culture of my age. There is not a single wretched man in this wretched place along with me who does not stand in symbolic relation to the very secret of life. For the secret of life is suffering.” Pleasure and success are an artifice, he says, while pain wears no mask. He turns to humility as a remedy, and identifies with the other prisoners.  Wilde adopts Jesus of Nazareth as a symbol of western kindness and eastern serenity and as a rebel-hero of mind, body and soul.

In a preface to the 1905 edition,  Robert Ross, Wilde’s literary executor, published an extract from Wilde’s instructions to him which included the author’s own summation of the work:

“ I don’t defend my conduct. I explain it. Also in my letter there are several passages which explain my mental development while in prison, and the inevitable evolution of my character and intellectual attitude towards life that has taken place, and I want you and others who stand by me and have affection for me to know exactly in what mood and manner I face the world. Of course, from one point of view, I know that on the day of my release I will merely be moving from one prison into another, and there are times when the whole world seems to be no larger than my cell, and as full of terror for me. Still at the beginning I believe that God made a world for each separate man, and within that world, which is within us, one should seek to live”.  (adapted from Wikipedia)


Suffering is one very long moment. We cannot divide it by seasons. We can only record its moods, and chronicle their return. With us time itself does not progress. It revolves. It seems to circle round one centre of pain. The paralysing immobility of a life every circumstance of which is regulated after an unchangeable pattern, so that we eat and drink and lie down and pray, or kneel at least for prayer, according to the inflexible laws of an iron formula: this immobile quality, that makes each dreadful day in the very minutest detail like its brother, seems to communicate itself to those external forces the very essence of whose existence is ceaseless change.


If you want to listen to the whole work, click here.

Listen to the extract taken from “De Profundis” and help yourself with the script to grasp the depth of Wilde’s feelings and the mastery of his language.


De Profundis is actually a letter Oscar Wilde wrote in 1897 while he was in prison in Reading Gaol. The letter is a painful, questioning, confession of sorts to his former lover, Bosie—Lord Alfred Douglas. While he was in jail Oscar Wilde was not allowed to send the letter, but on his release a copy was delivered to Lord Alfred. We do not know if he read it or not.

Because of the personal nature of this letter a full version was not published until 1962 – many years after Wilde’s death.

The letter is dramatically divided into two parts

The first part is a forensic, examination of the destructive quality of the relationship between Oscar Lord Alfred. Wilde recounts their previous extravagances in detail and indicts both himself and Lord Alfred for vanity and weakness.

The second part is a meditation on the notion of punishment, retribution and restitution. Now, Oscar Wilde goes into a new phase and the writing is optimistic. Oscar is trying to find a future for himself and is refusing to be ground down. This, after all, is what an artist must do.

(Source: http://www.abc.net.au)

The Ballad of Reading Gaol


Watch the following video taken from the BBC.  What was the problem with Oscar Wilde’s Tomb?  What did his grandson decide to do to safeguard it?


There are two people entombed within Oscar Wilde’s monument at Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris. You might have expected Wilde’s companion in eternity to be his Judas-like lover, Lord Alfred ‘Bosie’ Douglas, or possibly Wilde’s forgiving wife, Constance, or one of their sons, Cyril or Vyvyan, but it is Wilde’s loyal friend and one-time lover, Robbie Ross.

When Jacob Epstein designed the tomb for Wilde’s second, grander resting place (Wilde had died in debt in 1900 and was originally buried in a modest plot at Bagneux), Robbie Ross asked the sculptor to leave a niche for his own remains. Although he died in 1918 at the age of 49, Ross’s wish to be interred with Wilde wasn’t granted until 1950. Ross deserves his place by Wilde’s side; unlike Wilde’s lover Lord Alfred Douglas, Ross was a good friend till the end, not only to Wilde but to Wilde’s sons.

As Wilde’s literary executor and a mentor to the poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, Ross has been a good friend to readers, too. Without Robbie Ross, we wouldn’t be able to read Wilde’s De Profundis or The Picture of Mr W.H. Ross acted as a muse while Wilde planned the short story/literary essay Mr W.H. and he prevented Lord Alfred Douglas from destroying the manuscript of Wilde’s letter/memoir/manifesto De Profundis by bequeathing the original to the British Museum. After years of effort, Ross got the Wilde estate out of bankruptcy, secured the copyright for Wilde’s children, stemmed the flow of pirated editions and oversaw the production of the first legitimate edition of Wilde’s collected works.

In De Profundis, Wilde says of Ross, “When I was brought down from my prison to the Court of Bankruptcy, between two policemen, Robbie waited in the long dreary corridor that, before the whole the crowd, whom an action so sweet and simple hushed into silence, he might gravely raise his hat to me, as handcuffed and with bowed head, I passed him by. Men have gone to heaven for smaller things than that. … When wisdom has been profitless to me, philosophy barren, and the proverbs and phrases of those who have sought to give me consolation as dust and ashes in my mouth, the memory of that little, lovely, silent act of love has unsealed for me all the wells of pity, made the desert blossom like a rose, and brought me out of the bitterness of lonely exile into harmony with the wounded, broken, and great heart of the world.”


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15 Responses to Oscar Wilde

  1. Marini Sara 5H says:

    I really like the issue of dandyism, and looking in the web I found out that most of my favorite writers (poets, novelists…) and not only, belong to this category.
    For example I really loved Wilde’s “The picture of Dorian Gray” and most of all his quotations, taken from situation of his life and from his most famous works. They all represent somehow his point of view of the whole life: women, marriage, society, lifestyle… and they are the example of how a dandy’s mind works.
    Then I also like D’Annunzio, our (as Italians) best known dandy, famous for his way of amaze and also shock people with his unconventional manners and habits, his way of dressing and acting in public and his charm and the way he used it to attract women and scandals.
    Because that is the point: create rumors, gossip and scandals. Dandies need audience, and they manage to do this not only with offensive or too explicit behaviour but, almost at the opposite, thanks to the way they dress and their attitude in public: their first goal is being elegant, refined and sophisticated men, that is expressed by nice and expensive clothes (even if they don’t belong to an high-class they want to present themselves as if they are), good and impressive manners and the refusal to be considered mediocre.
    This new way of approaching society grew in early 1800s with George Brummel, that became popular and influent in England not for his great mind and skills but “just” because he was well dressed!
    So for dandies a great presence is fundamental.
    Then, turning back in my list of dandies that I mentioned at the beginning, I appreciate other figures besides writers that are considered by society as dandy.
    For example, I don’t know if you know him, but Chuck Bass, one of the main character in the TV series “Gossip Girl”, is, as I found out just now in Wikipedia, a dandy!
    In fact he has a very good taste in clothes, he speaks in a very high-ranking way and he present himself as one of the most elegant person in the Upper East Side. But he is also very cold and cynical with other people, he does not appreciate any contact with lowly people, and of course he is definitively against rules given by society. As a perfect dandy he does not follow fashion, he makes it!
    With this figure I want to admit that actually, some people can still be considered as dandies, for example the ones coming from high society or that have a job that “oblige” them to behave in a very tasteful way (like bankers, lawyers..) but also people like designers, artists, editors and other.
    I was surprised when I found out that actually, there are also female dandies! Just to quote some: Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany”, Anna Wintour, editor of Vougue (and also her cinematographic copy Miranda in “the evil wears Prada”), Diane Keaton the beautiful Marlene Dietrich (both actesses) and all the models dressed by Armani, Prada,Cavalli…
    This is a great issue for me because I have never really thought about it, and its presence nowadays.

  2. Lara De Piero says:

    Oscar Wilde is, without any doubts, the most intriguing figure of English’s literature which is still largely appreciated in the world. He owes his great success to the high education he received, but even to his eccentricity: in fact he was fascinated by Aestheticism and proclaimed the theory of “Art for Art’s Sake” and as soon as he moved to London, he became a celebrity due to his extraordinary wit and his dress as a “dandy”. Very often, we cease at these aspects of him, we stop at “Wilde the celebrity” and we do not pay attention to “Wilde the man”: I think that by reading “De profundis” we can grasp even this aspect of his personality, which is the most private and I would say even the most touching because it makes people reflect upon the suffering a so famous man as Oscar Wilde had to face during his life and makes people think to the importance of feelings and relationships too. In 1891 Wilde met Bosie, a young aristocratic man who had a few problems with his father and for this reason tried in every way to ruin his father’s name; but he was handsome and Wilde was fascinated by his beauty. Moreover Wilde was a very sensitive person, sensitive to the point that he knew that Bosie was not psychologically balanced, but anyway decided to help him without knowing that he would have ruined his existence forever: in fact Bosie had a name (he wanted to become a poet) and furthermore he was a selfish, but even cunning, person who succeeded in reaching whatever he wanted from Oscar. Wilde wrecked himself financially and was sent two years hard labour for indecent behaviour with men, due to Bosie father’s denunciation. “De profundis” is a testimony of this and it consists in a series of letters addressed Boesie that Wilde wrote in jail. From the very first lines, it is clear that he does not bear a grudge against his “friend”, but he uses his pen as a weapon to injure his pride: “read the letter over and over again till it kills your vanity”, “the supreme vice is shallowness”, “I blame myself for allowing an unintellectual friendship, a friendship whose primary aim was to dominate my life” and “you were proud of being the intimate friend of an artist so distinguished” wrote to him. But it is interesting even what he wrote about the artist and the poetic creation: while in the Preface of “The picture of Dorian Grey” he defends the concept of “Art for Art’s Sake”, here he says that the quality of the works of an artist depends on the atmosphere around him, on the “intensification of personality”, and as long as he was with Boesie, his life was completely uncreative. On the other hand, when he was with his honest friend Robbie, he resumed to write and in that very period he wrote his greatest masterpieces. Finally, I really appreciated what he wrote about life in jail: Wilde was such a cultivated man who thought that out of every experience you gain acknowledge, even out of life in prison. To this point, he described his life in the cell and he spoke about his feelings: he wore convict clothes, he was a disgraced man and he tells that suffering was the only means by which he remembered of existing. This private aspect of Oscar Wilde’s life is the one I find more moving in the sense that it makes me think about how cultivated he was for believing such things: in my opinion he was a so well-read man, who blamed himself for somebody else’s faults, and accepted the consequences with his head held high even if after he was released his life was entirely ruined. The text made me reflect upon the importance of friendship and relationships in general and how much can they affect our lives: moreover I put myself in Oscar Wilde’s shoes and I asked myself what I would have done, but I have not found an answer yet because it is something very awkward and, in my opinion, if you don’t find yourself in such a situation, you can only make suppositions, but not find a solution.

  3. Corsunov says:

    In my opinion Oscar Wilde was a man of big values. He was bighearted, generous, kind despite the fact that he was a dandy, so a person who seems to be shallow and worried just about his external aspect. But as it happens with every good person, he was tapped by mad people. One of them was his dear “friend” Bosie. This man needed his constant company but not just beacause Wilde was a good friend but because of his fame. In fact Bosie was jelous of him and wanted always to be like him, to be an excellent poet like him and a famous dandy like him. Bosie was vain, presumptuous and spoilt. Oscar Wilde suffered a lot because of him and for this reason he wrote some literary works dedicated to him. In my opinion even the novel “The picture of Dorian Gray” is somehow ddicated to Bosie, here Wilde critisizes his vain and spoilt behaviour. The figure of Dorian is a beautiful, handsome man but with a cruel soul, for him is more ioirtant the external aspect instead of the good human qualities like honesty, generosity. With this novel Oscar Wilde wants to point up that this vanity (especially Bosies vanity) will never make happy a person or would do it but just apparently and so this fake happiness is doomed to end.

  4. Giulia Girardi says:

    “I blame myself terribly”
    “you dominated my life”
    “it was just a weakness”
    “you demanded without grace and received without thanks”
    “you was ungracious always”
    “my will power became absolutely subject to yours”

    These are just some sentences which struck me the most. I think Wilde had the power to give life to the words he chose: every single word has a meaning, even an article. The adjectives he uses are full of grace, even the hideous ones: it seems that he poured honey on the pages he wrote. Though his heart being full of loathing, bitterness and contempt, he remained decorous in his language, he kept his elegance even in prison and he decided to hurt Bosie not through physical violence, but with the strength of his words, with the same talent Bosie hadn’t appreciate when they were together, with the same power Bosie would have never thought Wilde could have used in order to “kill” him, the most beautiful flower Wilde adored to smell the sweetest perfume of. And I think that this must be the most painful but also powerful means a man could choose to choke such an insensitive soul.
    I think I love the way this genius writes, I could read his works continuously without making a pause, it was so delightful reading this letter that I admit I fail to find the words which could give the just value to this text. I am simply speechless. I think Oscar Wilde had a precious faculty: he could manage anybody he wanted to in any situation. He discovered that with his mind, with his voice or with his pen he could express his spirit.

  5. Alessia B. 5^H says:

    I read the part on dandyism and aestheticism and I really liked it, even because I had the opportunity to discover new things about Oscar Wilde’s lifestyle, since this kind of information is not present in the book and I am not going to deal with it in my “tesina”.
    Wilde, at the time, wasn’t only famous for being a brilliant writer but was also well-known for being an eccentric but sophisticated man: a dandy. He has a carefree and indolent lifestyle, where beauty in all its forms always comes first and everything has to be elegant and refined. I think that what’s fascinating about O.W. is the fact that there’s a man (an interesting man with an interesting story) beyond the writer and this also concurs in making his works special.

  6. Xheni Mullahi 5^H says:

    Xheni Mullahi 5^H

    I chose “Dandyism” because I was interested in when born the way to tag people by the outfits. I was sure that Oscar Wilde invented the being a Dandy but reading the article I realized that I was wrong, because it borns with George Bryan in the 1800’s.
    I think that in the past was more easy for a dandy to appeare because there where few “models” and few fashion designers. Nowadays there are more fashions styilist than “models”. I think that dandys still exsist, we have “fashion bloggers” that create blogs where explane you what to wear, in what occasion and with whom. There isn’t the freedom to wear what you want in our society, each location has its own dress code. For example when you go to school you have to wear something serious, if you are a secretary you have to wear hills and an elegant skirt, if you are a “VIP” you have to wear the latest fashion outfit of a well known designer and so on so forth..
    So what you wear defines what you are and what you do, in this way is easier to tag you!
    In our society intellectuals do not create fashion, in our society just the VIPs do it!

  7. Sara Grande 5^H says:

    Reading the definition of “dandy” one gets the impression that this is a person completely superficial, who is interested only in elegance as in physical appearance and lives in his abstract world rising above the real, concrete world and the other people: it makes you think that he has no values in which he believes, everything seems based on beauty, the only inviolable value. But then, reading Oscar Wilde, you realize he had great moral values, like that of friendship. We can find it in the “De profundis” where he addresses to Bosy to make him understand what he did to help him as a real friend does. I was struked by the story of Oscar Wilde’s life: I never would have thought he had such a big heart.
    For me we are too influenced by the stereotype of the dandy. I think he was himself a contraddiction in terms: was “affected by aestheticism” as an excellent writer, which is a shallow way of seeing the whole world but then was a very deep person as a cleaver man. I liked the fact that in his works you can grasp even the man, who stands beyond the writer.
    Nowadays there is no more values and you can see it wherever, even in the social networks: people are interested just in appearing and becaming popular. The stereotype of dandy lives on in our society where the only thing that matter is appereance.

  8. Sara Pavan says:

    Thank to our literature program at school, I managed to get more in touch with Oscar Wilde, both as a writer and intellectual and as a man. We are accustomed to judge him by his novels, but we are not used to think that they are directly linked to his private life, to the kind of person that he really was. I was amused by finding out what a great person he was and what an amazing personality he had. He doubtless was a strong person, because he had to face many difficulties in life, but always maintaining his dignity. So the aspect that fascinated me the most is Wilde’s life itself.
    It is interesting noting how he cared about the social problems of his time, for example I found some of his aphorism on the internet and here there are those that I liked the most:
    “How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as if she were a perfectly normal human being.”
    “True friends stab you in the front.”
    Which clearly refered to his imprisonment.
    “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught”

    Sara Pavan 5H

  9. Michele says:

    I really appreciated the article on Dandyism, since I’ve never understood the exact meaning of “being dandy”. Dressing is an important issue in our society and I found interesting reading the origins of this attitude towards clothes. Nowadays, there are lots of fashion companies which try to create the most extravagant and innovative style, whereas in the 19th century people (such as George Bryan and Oscar Wilde himself) set the style. Does it mean that the role of dandy lost its importance? I don’t think so.
    I watch on TV american sports, especially basketball and I also follow players’ life outside the court, especially focusing on what they wear. Especially black players like to draw people’s attention with their fancy shirts, pastel colored suits and big-peaked caps (which are often worn by teenagers all around the world). We can state that they are the “modern dandys”, since they’re the points of reference of many young people

  10. Alessia says:


    I chose this topic because I didn’t know what it was in depth.
    What struck me was the definition given by Charles Baudelaire: dandyism is connected also with spirituality and not just with the external aspect of a person. What the French poet wanted to underline was that the dandy didn’t want to show off but he projected his real being in an aesthetically evoluted form.
    In the other article given, there is an attempt to define the dandy simply as an elegant man. It briefly draws the story of how this term developed its meaning. At the beginning, an appropriated behavior was always bond to the aristocrats. At the beginning of 19th century, one bourgeois, George Bryan Brummel, started to assume regularly the perfect gentleman behavior and to dress himself in a clean, elegant, simple toned manner. This way of dressing was exactly the opposite of the baroquish outfit in fashion. He was immediately recognizable by the others. Doing that he gained fame and prestige and entered the prince entourage.
    As the century progressed many people followed Brummel’s example. “it was not a narrow aristocracy of birth that ran society, but a collection of well dressed, well mannered gentlemen who all obeyed the same set of rules, and for whom- any of whom, regardless of birth, to break the rules of etiquette, meant banishment from society. Influence and power was based around being well bred, not of noble birth.” Was the behavior as important as the dressing style? It seems so. Was then a dandy somebody who takes care of his inside as well as of his outfit? It may be.
    In my opinion, this definition could perfectly fit Oscar Wilde, even if the article doesn’t agree. He was a genius and he was in love with beauty. And he was not afraid of showing that off: even in his room there were china vases, peacock feathers and other exotic objects. He decorated his house and even himself: he used to wear braces, silken socks, buttonholes and he was a model for many of his contemporaries. At the same time, reading his works, we can follow his growth as a human being. In The portrait of Dorian Gray the main character is concerned just about his physical aspects and not about his moral integrity. In De profundis Oscar Wilde himself showed his passion for beauty and art in the way of writing and in the references to his knowledge. In that moment also the inside of the writer became important.
    Alessia P.

  11. Pitton Elisa says:

    I found interesting the part on “Dandyism”. When we talked about a “Dandy”, we immediately think to Oscar Wilde, who has become the most well-known example; Generally speaking, the concept indicates a person who is always dressed up but in the same time out of the mainstream and a little bit eccentric; someone that wants to appreciate life and all the possibilities that it offers him, finding Beauty in everything surrounds him.
    Sometimes it’s easy to relate “Dandyism” with “superficiality”, but there’s nothing wronger than that. The Dandy is a great observer and he is able to adapt to every single situation, from the noble cultural gathering to the promiscuous matters of the underworld. What I learnt, reading the different articles, is that a Dandy should never try to show off because of his aristocratic title; he had to influence others just using his capabilities, intelligence and appeal.
    So something important to highlight is that the Dandy is the first figure to achieve great social power despite his birth. This changes a lot of things: with the beginning of the 19th century it was not anymore a narrow aristocratic class to run the society, but a group of gentlemen who share same morals.
    Moreover I believe that this continuous will to provoke and astonish others has lead to constant innovation, if in a good way or in a bad way, it depends.
    I don’t know if I can say that nowadays there is a “real Dandy”, maybe because there’s so much and so many famous/rich/intelligent/fashionable people (now not only men!), that in end you choose your personal role model depending on your interests and the trends that you want to follow, and you can do it in million ways, through social medias, newspapers, internet and so on.

  12. cristianaziraldo says:


    The idea I like the most of the Aesthetism is its motto: “Art for art’s sake”. It is considering art necessary for itself.
    Oscar Wilde was one of the greatest symbol of this movement and of Dandysm. I liked analysed the figure of a dandy, a man who is self-made, that pay attention to his appearance, who tries to look like an aristocratic and even to pose as a noble even if cooming from a lower class. Oscar Wilde with this technique, tried to invent a new fashion, noticing a great success. It was somehow ridiculous and absurd, because of the exaggeration in the manners or in the apparel, but looking at Oscar Wilde was a huge fashion for his generation. Nowadays is still in vogue an attitude like that, especially for a man. People are all alike, the same pair of elegant shoes, the hipster above the ankle, the same manners, the same mobile phone, everybody with the earphones in the ears, even the same strange languages and the haircut.
    Everybody looks like a dandy.
    I was interested in this topic, because I would love to see how was the fashion changed during these 2 centuries and i would analyse the same behaviour expressed in different ways. I observe that man has always tried to appear in a specific way.

    Marta Pignat

  13. Lisa says:

    For me “De Profundis” and the “Ballad of Reading Gaol” are the two real masterpieces of Wilde. In them it is possible to grasp immediately the intensity of the poet’ s messages…I love them because even reading only a part of the two litterary works it is possible to know the real and most beautiful and interesting part of the writer…the man that is hidden behind the apparence. So eaven if the better known works are for example “the picture of Dorian Gray” and “the importance of being Earnest” I surely want to pone in evidence the part that strikes me the most.

  14. Annagiulia Nadin says:

    Annagiulia Nadin
    As I saw the 2009 film “Dorian Gray”, I was very interested in watching also the other 1945 famous film adaptation of “The Picture of Dorian Gray” in order to have the possibility to compare the two movies. Obviously the trailer is not the complete film and I cannot say whether it is better one adaptation from the other one, but I can say which trailer I liked most and why.
    Even if both the trailers express very well the concept of “art for art’s sake”, the human desire of eternal and timeless beauty and the fact that reality cannot be escaped (all these aspects are characteristic of the novel too), I found much more effective the newer version. Firstly it focuses not only on the importance of the picture itself – it plays a marginal and background part – but it properly underlines Lord Henry’s crucial role in Dorian’s life and actions. He is the inspiring man, the “instigator” who allowed Dorian to undertake the road towards evil and perdition and this aspect is greatly expressed in the 2009 trailer. Whereas the 1945 trailer neglects it, preferring a total zoom on Dorian’s indecent, outrageous and terrible new lifestyle. For this reason it is somehow dull and not capable to catch the attention of the spectator, but “Dorian Gray” acheives this. In fact it has the capability to show the “excess”/“extreme”, it is so direct and explicit in revealing Dorian’s exaggerations (even more than the same book) that it makes people understand what “going over” really means. But it wants even to highlight Dorian’s initial innocence and purity at the beginning of the story, when his soul is not corrupted yet. This gradual contrast between innocence and corruption becomes a gripping element for the public. In the 1945 trailer we can see a man with a malicious expression just from the beginning when he looks at the picture, but we are unaware of his previous naivety. Perhaps the narrating external voice is what destroys the whole atmosphere, but the trailer fails also in the music, more suitable for a mythological colossal or a big drama (even if we have to consider that these melodies were typical of the all types of film trailers at that time). Instead the 2009 video finds his strong point in the soundtrack, that evokes the tone of mystery and horror perceived by the characters and the same spectator and so it remarks the genre of the film (which is much more frightening and striking than the book). Unfortunately this film adaptation is not completely faithful to the novel, even if the detail could be not grasp just from the trailer. Sign of a re-adaptation is, for example, the introduction of a new character not present in the novel: Emily, Lord Henry’s daughter. As I have just mentioned, it is very difficult to notice this difference, because she may be easily identified with Gladys, Basil’s niece. There is only one particular in the trailer that can reveal the director’s change: Emily immediately appears like a strong and brave girl, who fears nothing. Instead what strikes most in Gladys is her naivety and innocence, the same qualities Dorian had at the beginning. Emily is pure and not corrupted too, but she is more determined and self-conscious. So she is not the female version of the first Dorian and she represents “balance” between a state of total innocence and a state of depravation, what lack in Gladys and in the “inexperienced” Dorian.
    Differently from the 1945 trailer, The more recent one suggests also the end of the story. In fact it shows Dorian stabbing the picture and a frame of flames that cover up the final scene. It implies that all this evil will be canceled, but without a rebirth. This is the other element of disparity between the film and the novel: in the screen Dorian, at the end, decides to stab the picture because he recognizes his corruption and with this action, which is the best and only solution to eliminate it, he knows he will die; whereas in the paper he is not conscious of the fact that the stabbing of the work will cause his death. So in the novel Dorian thinks that it is not too late to purge his soul, instead in the film he dies to save a person (Emily) from his evil for the first time (in this way the spectator becomes also more sympathetic with Dorian).
    Yes, “Dorian Gray” trailer is much more complete than the 1945 one and for this reason it is better, but I have to wait for the “final verdict”!

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