Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W = WILDE, Oscar - Author, A-Z Blog Challenge 2016

A flamboyant peacock, perhaps, but also a man with intelligence, wit, and style.

Oscar Wilde, by Napoleon Sarony - WC-

W = Wilde, Oscar - Author
Theme = Authors, AtoZ


Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (October 16, 1854 – November 30, 1900) was an Irish playwright, novelist, essayist, and poet. Wilde's parents were successful Anglo-Irish Dublin intellectuals. Their son became fluent in French and German early in life.

At the turn of the 1890s, he refined his ideas about the supremacy of art in a series of dialogues and essays, and incorporated themes of decadence, duplicity, and beauty into his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890). He wrote Salome (1891) in French in Paris but was refused a licence for England due to the absolute prohibition of Biblical subjects on the English stage. Unperturbed, Wilde produced four society comedies in the early 1890s, which made him one of the most successful playwrights of late Victorian London.

Criticism over artistic matters in the Pall Mall Gazette provoked a letter in self-defence, and soon Wilde was a contributor to that and other journals during the years 1885–87. He enjoyed reviewing and journalism; the form suited his style. He could organise and share his views on art, literature and life, yet in a format less tedious than lecturing. Wilde, like his parents before him, also supported the cause of Irish Nationalism. When Charles Stewart Parnell was falsely accused of inciting murder Wilde wrote a series of astute columns defending him in the Daily Chronicle.

With his youth nearly over, and a family to support, in mid-1887 Wilde became the editor of The Lady's World magazine, his name prominently appearing on the cover. He promptly renamed it The Woman's World and raised its tone, adding serious articles on parenting, culture, and politics, keeping discussions of fashion and arts. Two pieces of fiction were usually included, one to be read to children, the other for the ladies themselves.

In October 1889, Wilde had finally found his voice in prose and, at the end of the second volume, Wilde left The Woman's World. The magazine outlasted him by one volume.


The Picture of Dorian Gray

The first version of The Picture of Dorian Gray was published as the lead story in the July 1890 edition of Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, along with five others. The story begins with a man painting a picture of Gray. When Gray, who has a "face like ivory and rose leaves", sees his finished portrait, he breaks down. Distraught that his beauty will fade while the portrait stays beautiful, he inadvertently makes a Faustian bargain in which only the painted image grows old while he stays beautiful and young.


The Importance of Being Earnest


Wilde's final play again returns to the theme of switched identities: the play's two protagonists engage in "bunburying" (the maintenance of alternative personas in the town and country) which allows them to escape Victorian social mores. Earnest is even lighter in tone than Wilde's earlier comedies. Mostly set in drawing rooms and almost completely lacking in action or violence, Earnest lacks the self-conscious decadence found in The Picture of Dorian Gray and Salome

The play, now considered Wilde's masterpiece, was rapidly written in Wilde's artistic maturity in late 1894. It was first performed on February 14,1895, at St James's Theatre in London.  Earnest's immediate reception as Wilde's best work to date finally crystallised his fame into a solid artistic reputation. The Importance of Being Earnest remains his most popular play.

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Queensberry and Douglas

Lord Alfred's father, the Marquess of Queensberry, was known for his outspoken atheism, brutish manner and creation of the modern rules of boxing. Queensberry, who feuded regularly with his son, confronted Wilde and Lord Alfred about the nature of their relationship several times, but Wilde was able to mollify him. In June 1894, he called on Wilde without an appointment, and clarified his stance: "I do not say that you are it, but you look it, and pose at it, which is just as bad. And if I catch you and my son again in any public restaurant I will thrash you" to which Wilde responded: "I don't know what the Queensberry rules are, but the Oscar Wilde rule is to shoot on sight."

After Wilde's court trial for which Queensberry had accused him of homosexual activities, he is corralled by lawyers intent on destroying his reputation. They dig up potential witnesses in the London underworld which Wilde was known to frequent. His friends urge him to escape to France, but he stays to face the courts. 

In 1897, in prison in England, he wrote De Profundis, which was published in 1905, a long letter which discusses his spiritual journey through his trials, forming a dark counterpoint to his earlier philosophy of pleasure. In France, he wrote his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898), a long poem commemorating the harsh rhythms of prison life. 

Wilde was released from prison on May 18 1897 and sailed immediately for France. He would never return to Britain or to Ireland. He spent his last three years in impoverished exile.

Wilde's final address was at the dingy Hôtel d'Alsace (now known as L'Hôtel), on rue des Beaux-Arts in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris. "This poverty really breaks one's heart: it is so sale [filthy], so utterly depressing, so hopeless. Pray do what you can" he wrote to his publisher

Wilde died of cerebral meningitis on November 30, 1900Wilde was initially buried in the Cimetière de Bagneux outside Paris; in 1909 his remains were disinterred and transferred to Père Lachaise Cemetery, inside the city. His tomb there was designed by Sir Jacob Epstein, and commissioned by Robert Ross, one of Wilde's long-time friends.

In 2011, the tomb was cleaned of the many lipstick marks left there by admirers, and a glass barrier was installed to prevent further marks or damage. The image shown below I took in 2010. I won't say anything about the marks on the tomb except that to me, they indicated the adoration that is shown to Oscar Wilde.



Tomb of Oscar Wilde, Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris by DG Hudson 2010


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Have you read any of Oscar Wilde's writings? Have you seen his tomb in Pere Lachaise Cemetery? Do you think a person's private life should pre-condition a judgement on their literary work OR should we view their work separate from their private lives?

Please leave a comment to let me know you were here and I'll respond. Thanks for dropping by! Sorry for the length of this post, but Oscar was an interesting guy. . .

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A to Z Challenge - 2016

It's April again and time for the 2016 Blogging from A to Z challenge  This is my 4th year participating in the challenge! (Previous A to Z  posts at the top of my blog page tabs are: Art A-Z, French Faves, Paris, Etc. 

Thanks to originator Lee (Arlee Bird at Tossing It Out), and the co-hosts and co-host teams who make the challenge run smoothly. See the list of participants, and other important information at the A to Z Blog site.  The basic idea is to blog every day in April except Sundays (26 days). On April 1st, you begin with the letter A, April 2 is the letter B, and so on. Posts can be random or use a theme.



Blogging from A to Z Challenge 2016 - Badge

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References:

Oscar Wilde - Wiki
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_Wilde 

W = Wilde Thing. A to Z Blogging Challenge 2012

Post about Oscar Wilde and his tomb in Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France.

http://dghudson-rainwriting.blogspot.ca/2012/04/w-wilde-thing-to-z-challenge.html

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15 comments:

  1. This Wilde quote is on a brass plate embedded in the sidewalk in SF: “It's an odd thing, but anyone who disappears
    is said to be seen in San Francisco.
    It must be a delightful city and possess
    all the attractions of the next world”

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    1. I always did like Frisco, and a plaque like that is probably why.

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  2. I would love to have known him. So sad he went to prison and died in poverty. His work is still so influential.

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    1. I think the laws were archaic in the Victorian years. We're lucky that so much of his work survived. France must have been less restrictive. . .

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  3. I didn't realize The Picture of Dorian Gray was his. What a brilliant story that was!

    Stephanie
    http://stephie5741.blogspot.com

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    1. He didn't write many novels, but a lot of short writing. I liked '. . .Dorian Gray', too.

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  4. Hi DG - Dorian Gray and the Importance of Being Earnest I've seen as a film/tv programme, as a play and on tv ... but I must read those two other works ... Reading Gaol and De profundis ... and then his poetry ...

    So sad he died of Meningitis ... and bullying Queensberry ... not good - but thanks again for this enlightening post .. cheers Hilary

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    1. If Oscar had not been so quick to bring a suit against Queensberry, I wonder what would have occurred? I wish Oscar had fled to France earlier rather than after the trial.

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  5. I haven't read Wilde but I have heard of him. I don't believe a person's artistic work should be judged alongside their private life.

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    1. I agree. Creative work should not be dismissed because of a person's private affairs, but many a career has been ruined because of it. We want perfect role models and humans have flaws. . .

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  6. In junior high school, we performed his play The Importance of Being Earnest. Great play!

    I think it's very sad how it all turned out for him. Sounds like he went to jail for being gay. When he got out, he was poor. Did they take his money, too???? Sounds like it. The irony is that today people love him (hence the lipstick marks on his grave.) AND no one cares today about his sexual orientation. All that remains is his writing. It's unfortunate that his writing couldn't have been the focus while he was alive.

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    1. You said it well, Robin! Victorians were always so uptight about everything, using euphemisms and not talking about things like sweat, family skeletons in the closet, etc.

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  7. Love his Oscar Wilde rule. Oh, if only had gone to France instead of being like Socrates in facing his accusers. I like his wit so that I included him (and Mark Twain as companionable banterer) in two of my novels. I enjoyed writing his dialogue. :-)

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    1. I know he's a fave of yours, Roland, and that's one of the things that drew me to your blog (the ghosts of Oscar, Twain, McCord, Hemingway and Fitzgerald. . .)

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