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,i.>i~ .;..!., Oscar Wilde



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Life and works Oscar Wilde, the son of a surgeon and of I an ambitious literarv woman, was born in Dublin in 1854. Aft~r attending Trinity I College (Dublin), he was sent to Oxford where he gained a first class degree in Classics and distinguished himseIf for his eccentricity. He became a disciple of WaIter Pater, the theorist of Aesthericism in England (@ 9.9) accepring the theory




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~ Ma><Beerbohm. of Oscar 189'1.

of'Art for Art's Sake'.After graduating, he left Oxford and settled in London where he soon became a celebrity for his extraordinary wit and his dress as a 'dandy'. In 1881 Wilde edited, at his own expense, Poems, and was engaged for a tour in the United States where he gave some lectures about the Pre-Raphaelites and the Aesthetes. On his arrivai in New York he told reporters that Aestheticism was a search for the beautiful, a science through which men looked for the reIarionship between painting, sculpture and poetry, which were simply different forms of the same truth. The tour was a great success for Wilde, who became famous for his irony, his attitudes and his poses. On coming back to Europe in 1883, h. married Constance Uoyd who bore him two children. At this point in his career h was most notOOas a great talker: his presence became a sodal event and his remarks appeared in the most fashionab: London magazines. In the late 1880s Wilde's literary taler was reveaIed by a series of short stories, The Canterville Ghost, Lord Arthur Savill Crime, The Happy Prince and Other Tale written for his children and the noveI T. Picture oJDorian Gray (1891). After his first and only noveI he developed an interest in drama and revived the come. of manners (@ 5.5). In the late 1890s b produced a series of plays which were successful on the London stage: Lady Windermere's Fan (1892), A Woman oJ. Importance (1893), and his masterpiece The Impartance aJ Being Earnest (1895) However, both the novel and Salomé (1893), a tragedy written in French, damaged the writer's reputarion, since former was considered immoraI, and t latter was banned from the London st, for obscenity. In 1891 he met the young and


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That is ali". The Ballad oJReading GaoI (1898). Wilde perceived the artist as an alien in a materialistic worId. Since life was meant for pleasure. was his last work.. He lived in the double role of rebel and dandy."d Douglas. '" OscarWilde and his lover. in the 1890s. The boy's father. His pursuit of beauty and fulfùment was tfie tragic act of a superior being inevitably turned into an outcast. v'lhen he was released. in spite of his blatant unconventionality. remains a member of his class. and with whom Wilde had a homosexual affair.. and pleasure was an indulgence in the beautiful. words or bovs - had no moral stance. Books are weH written or badly written. where he lived his last years in poverty. who. ---= beautiful Lord Alfred Douglas. the dandy is a bourgeois artist. Wilde's interest in beauty - clothes. originaJly published under his prison identity. poet and translator Lord AIf. While in prison he wrote De Profundis.- 'Il:::. He died of meningitis in Paris in 1900. In this way he rejected the didacticism that had characterised the Victorian novel in the first half of the century. He believed that only "Art as the cult of Beauty" couId prevent the murder of the souI. the Marquess of Queensbury.. The rebel and tbe dandy Wilde adopted 'the aesthetic ideaI'. Art for Art's Sake The concept of"Art for Art's Sake" was to him a moral imperative and not merely an aesthetic one. . The Wildean dandy is an aristocrat whose elegance is a symbol of the superiority of his spirit..3. the English author. he was a broken man. his wife refused to see him. and is an individualist who demands abso]ute freedom. forced a public trial and Wilde was convicted of homosexual practices and sentenced to two-years of hard labour. as he affirmed in one of his famous conversations: "My life is like a work of art". He affirmed in' the Preface (@ t111) of his novel "There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. The dandy must be distinguished from the bohemian: while the bohemian allies himself to the rural or urban proletariat. and he went into exile in France.--.3. G. a long letter to Bosie published posthumously in 1905.11I . he wrate onIy to please himself and was not concerned in communicating his theories to bis fellow-beings. he uses his wit to shock. whose nickname was Bosie.

he dies relatively naturalIy. The dead man's knife points to the heart to identify him by depict? c. in evening dress.. POS1erronhe film Wilde directed by Brian G!ibert (UK. Gray becomes hideous in death (@ t114): -. and that the ~ unhealthy soul of a man who cannot regard his entire guided J: -" self does not really prospero Tormented by study In spiritual blindness. but a fragment that has no meaningful relationship with the whole.he has eliminated his last grasp on sense-perception. Answer the following and cleanly in a symbolic gesture indicative of the purity of bis calm.and illuminating in the confounding world of Dorian Gray. 1. Gustave Flaubert and \\'alter Pater concern themselves with "wholeness" of being." [. the superficial and misleading accoutrements of the souI.revealing the source of his destruction.' not consti tute a beautiful creature. bis body is 2. Highlightthe main idea To Basi! Hallward. Much of this comes from the Greek philosopher Epicurus (342 B. he deprives himself of hope for recovery of bis soul. both believe strongly that the object must be studied in its entirety. is nothing". questions. 3. ::T Lying on the fioor was a dead man. Dorian never approaches E113 1. the painting was the onIy way in which he could possibly have regarded himself as a complete person possessing souI in addition to face. NE\\' YORK. A harsh end. Rejected by Wotton and Gray in life ideas.J . . but it is indicative of the importance that Epicurus held for Aesthetes like \V"llde.sage. a.-270 B."IILLE CA~TI The Picture oJ Dorian Gray. 1995. After reading this passage the Epicurean goal of being free from do the following activities. the exterior beauty of a man conceals inner moral decrepitude to those who do not contemplate in earnest..ho le. wholeness. . perhaps. who states simply that "There exists nothing in addition to the totality. What does The Picture or Dorian Gray Gray's failure to develop bis soul reaches its pinnacle when he destroys the on1y extension of himself that exemplifies good sense-perception: the painting. which alone responds to the body and souI as a ". and aHthat remains for others . humanly.Aut1iors and texts Sense perception. p. What does the painting exemplify? e. What do Flaubert and Pater believe? b. Why does Dorian Gray deprive himself of hope for the recovery of his soul by destroying the painting? - traditionally the dwelling of the soul. rather. or else it is not the object that is being considered.It Wa5 not till they had examined the rings that they recognized who it was.all he has ever been identified by - are his rings. and the souI CA. /1) TltePictureoJDorian Gray depicts the hard lesson of < ::i' a gentleman who finds that a handsome aspect does o -. because he understood them too deeply. although martyred. wrinkled. and loathsome oJ 1.). To use the example that Oscar \'\illde paints in The Picture oJDorian Gray. Orde the terms reduced to purity by the Dorian's blackmailed referring to Epicurus's scientist. for one who does not take a philosopher seriously enough. In opposition. -.C. Destroying it. "death expres:ed in the text. He was withered.. the ideaI Epicurean. cultivated. Barnes and Noble Books. 1997). disturbance. with a knife in his heart. and observant soul. What is the difference between BasilHallward's death and Gray's one? d.c. he is continually troubled.

n Grcytake DI2ce: 8.A. Vaudeville Theatre. 6. when Dorian destroys the picture. 2. and ~ ~ Text bank 70 stabs it."cess must be punished and reaIity cannot be escaped. wrinkled. the « signs of age. including that of eternaI youth. that 7.I _~ What What Who What What Who Answer the following questions about Oscar Wilde and his novel The Picture or Dorian Gray. The protagonist is Dorian LOII-1Ul£GEI'S SEASOI Gray. corrupting picture could be seen as a symboi of the immorality and bad conscience of the Victorian middle class.> only for pleasure I(@ t113).."perience c '" 'c and \'ice appear on the o t) portrait. . his double..::ic:~re c" Oonc. London at the end of the 19th century. death. and Dorian's face becomes "withered. illustrates Wilde's theories of art: art survives people. the horror and the sins conceaIed under the mask of Dorian's timeless beauty. portrait Dorian kilis him. guided nu~zr:. witness to his spirituaI corruption.5 e. the corruption. 20 August 1913. making use of everybody and E112 Ietting peopie die because of his insensitivity. Gray? 9. according to a rechnique which is typicai of drama.. 5.t 'lis . who OSOAR WILDE paints his portrait (@ t112).\. ugIy people are immorai people.Uiliorsana texts I The Picture ofDorian Gray 189: l-{:_. ideai did Oscar \N'ce adopt l:". lne Preface d' hs nove. Wilde pIays on the Renaissance idea of the correspondence between the physicai and spirituai realms: beautifui peopie are moraI peopIe. What isthe f""Or'al o'-the "'leve!? 11. Piot The novei is set in THEATRE. 4. DORIAN GRAY BasiI Hallward. innocent appearance are symbois ofbourgeois hypocrisy.roughOL./e? ìs the differerce Detv/eer: the darc)! 2'ìd D1ebohe'ì'1i2n? is the Wiice2'ì c2ncy? does he rejec: :. At the very moment of death the picture returns to its originaI purity. Later Dorian ' coe5 T~e. --- . Who is Dona. What does tre plcture symbe:ise? 10. This soul becomes the picture. The picture is not an autonomous seIf:it stands for the dark side of Dorian's personaIity. W'hen the 4.. it is a 19th-century version of the myth of Faust the stor)' of a man who sells his souI to the deviI so that alI his desires might be satisfied. wants to free himself of the portralt. restored to its originaI beauty. which he tries to forget by locking it in a reom. Allegorica! meaning This story is profoundly allegoricaI. Where and wr. while Dorian and his pure. but he mysteriously kilIs himself. for a performance or 1he I Picture orDorion Gray.""':DiO)'ec? 1. e). a young man THE PIOTURE OF whose beauty fascinates a painter. The settings are vividly described \\ith words appeaIing to the senses (@ t112). art is eterna!. Theatreprogramme painter sees the corrupted image of the VAUDEVIL. and Ioathsome" (@ t114). The morai of this noveI is that every e.. which records the signs of experience. The horrible.. the characters reveal themseives through what they say or what other people say of them. While the young man's desires are satisfied. What narrative techique. His variation on this theme is in his use of the magical portrait.LE CI> OD CI> L Narrative technique This stor)' is toid by an unobtrusive thirdperson narratori the perspective adopted is internaI which allo\\'s a process of identification between the reader and the character. Dorian lives .. he cannot avoid the punishment for all his sins.? is art 2ccordirg te Oscar \Ni:ce? isthe an:. FinaII)' the picture. 3.

i (1837-1901) Literarycontext TheAesthetic Movement inliterature The line of developmenr of the Aesmetic Movemem can be rraced back IOthe Renaissance poet Edmund Spenser.. Swinbume was greatly influenced by French writers like GaUtier and Baudelaire. . gem-like flame.. The reasons \\'hy the aesthetic trend spread so largely are not difficult IO detect.- .. who was not one of the group bUt ~vasinfluenced by the Pre-Raphaelites. Walter Pater is regarded as the high priest of the Aesrheric Movemem.\lovement found irs source in him. and offered many hints IO Gabriele D'Annunzio.. "glorified the beaUtiful with a reckless and bJasphemous ardouc". Ruskin worshipped beauty.-irrues Iike a religious purpose and creari'-e jo)'. and rejected alI established doctlines or rheories. Baudelaire also translated and admired Edgar A]]an Poe."'. in the conviction that life is fleeting and elusive. . A. hence the imponance of the virrues of rhe man who creares il. so thar the Symbolist . wirh his cult of beauty and the awareness of the contrast art-Iife. so as 1:0 bum always with a hard. \\'hom he found spiritualIy and anistically akin. The onl)' reali£)'is that of impressions and sensations. and believed in rhe sovereigmy of beaury. The craving for excess.. and then comributed to rransform ir imo aesrhericism. The fmest sensations afe to be found in art. Pater was an historical relativist.. author of the famous Les Fleurs du ... disregarded moraliry.of Italian painters before RaphaeI. the "unmemionable1-.. Charles Baudelaire 0821-186-).. to maimain ecstasy".. form and matter afe indistinguishable. rhus shocking bourgeois moraHsm. He maintained thar in art. creared analogies ber\\'een colours.<.C... bUt soon feH imo sensuousness and the cult of derail. Swinbume.....1Ial.i ~~ ~ ~N . 244 . The "mediaevar poems of John Kears became imponam sources of inspiration for rhem. Portraitof JohnRuskin byJohn EverettMillais u Wl ~~+~ ~ - -- I I 11I "H I l''''' t I ~. Ruskin supporred the Pfe-Raphaelites. or even exaIred.. the fondness of irresponsibility and the interest in exoticism represented the reaction to the repression of the instincts imposed by the' VicIOrian mentaIit}. They adopted sentimemal archaisms and a tone of evangelical mysticism. In the middle of the 19th century John Ruskin prorested against the indifference of me marerialisric Victorian socierv IO an and rhe beautiful. This cuIr of deep and noble emotions in a Iife meant as a work of art rendered him a soft of ascetic hedonist2.. The principle that art has no moral implications was the re"olt against rhe heavy moraI standards which were only ~ .. a group of anists and men of letters who rejected academic arr in favour of the spontanei!). sounds and perfumes. He openly spoke of. ~ .\rt's sake-. He advocated -.\rt for . Théophile Gaurier (1811-18-2) firsr supponed rhe Romamic ~lovemem. Both Pater and Swinbume asserted the aUtonomy of art against those who valued a poem. so no ponion of experience should be sacrificed in this passionate search after sensations. a painting or a sculpture simply by the moral quality of the sentiments it expressed. But cenainly irs moSI significanr forerunner was the romantic poer John Ke'dts.. He also proclaimed the idea of rreating life itself "in the spirit of arr"...-- . bUt also insisred on the idea that a wock:of art is an expression of the spirit.. as in music. The conclusion of his Studies in tbe HistOtJ' of tbe Renaissance is thar the secret of happiness is the absorption of beauty.and spiritualit).

'Bisogna faI<' la propria \ira. The scandal in which Oscar Wilde was involved crushed aIso rhe Aesrheric Jlm'ement which 5000 losr populari!)' aod carne to an end. ist Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898).. induIging in every capri ce of imagination. unmentionable: J i.of rhe Aesthetic Movement. S) They challenged the idea = . whose st)'1ised.ons and sensat.undoubredly rhe '.life. Moreover. Oscar Wilde was ':. f.but never asserted the superiorityof art over fife. . However. A -1A significant forerunner of the Aesthetic Movement was John Keats. beauty was one of the main features of the Aesthetic movement. The individuaI rebeJIed against the tyranny of an m'erpo\\'ering public opinion and demanded to assert himself unrestrainedly. Ybe .mood-. were read and admired by Pater and Wilde. illusrrared by Beardsle~'. the rare.( ple felt the limits of insulari!)' and were fond of the exotic. 1894. The Aesrheres pubIished a re\'ie\\'. . "siouous.Nlodemism.. b.literary context exterior observances. In che novellI Piacere Gabriele D'Annunzio echoes Parer. come si fa un 'opera d'me-o .ons. d. hedonism: doarine rhar rhe chief good of man is pleasure. g. Baudelaire and Huysmans -4The cult of = = c.of:iTheAestheteswerefascinatedby~ F: ~ ~Theyrejected established doctrines or \1C theories. the strange.2 Thedoctrine was. h. . He 8 a. decadence and symbolism were des. that art must be didactic to people. and spread ali over Europe. ink and watercofor on paper . Stop and check fomplete the statements in column A by choosing the appropriate items in column 8.. l.i'torms of expression known as . Yellow Book (1894-189"":"). of "Art for Art's sake". !. In England the Aesthetic Movemem reached irs height in rhe 1890s. and advocated the principle. money and procreation.!. . and wharever challenged \"iaorian pruderie. iIii..mpress.. and were proud of their difference from the average mano It is also true that the increased prosperi!)' and leisure had refmed and improved !asre. the contrast art . somewhat morbid and pen'erse ". Aubrey Vincent Beardsley. paganism. bur rhe leader was rhe artfj. . peo. i <.$ Frenchpoets and novelists like Gautier. that the only reality is that of .e. bom in France.. t:iined to mark the 20th centu1J' search for new j!.~jr reflected "decadent" tastes and irs daring $ubjects often made a sensarion. constantly pursued beauty and keenly felt the contrast arHife. mO$!famous personaIit)...drawiogs gave expression to rhe -decadent . e. andthought-' ~. the aesthetes poured contempt on the obruse bourgeoisie bent on work. eroIicism: Ihe pursuir of pleasure. La Dame aux Camelias. :..

ed esordì con una frase sonora. insuffIò una spruzzatura di sentori umani e quasi felini: evocanti la donna. intheideathatanartistmustconstantly search after sensation. One is A Rebours (Controcorrente). novelist anddramatist Gabriele D'Annunzio (1863-1938). in quel prato. Quesra volta si propose di perdersi in un sorprendente e mutevole paesaggio. Twonovelsare otten assoeiated with The Picture of Dorian Gray. Gemile. che gli dischiu:se di colpo una immensa lontananza di campagne. di lavanda di :\Iitcham. non usurpa il nome che le vien dato di . il cipro. '" di gioia che si disfrena in pieno sole. lo sciampaca. the onlysolutionfor himis to retumto theverysocietythat he hadrejected. 80thHuysmans and D'Annunzio. lasc!ò che si disperdessero queste onde odorose: e serbò solo la campagna che rinnovò.-~ . DesEsseintes." Theleading personality oftheAesthetie Movement. In questo sfondo tracciato a grandi linee. simulati dall'estratto di UNa londinese.Heis disgusted bythesocietyof his time andchooses to live alonein anisolatedhouseandsurrounds himselfwithvarious objectswhichrepresent to him Inthe end. likeWilde. Cont/'Ocol7r!nte.Lite itself was viewed asawork ofart whichstoodabove everything else. di fior d'arancio e di mandorla e. con l'ausilio di un ventilatore.sawart andbeautyasthe highest ideaIto . Hispopularity extended beyond England. d'incanto. Oscar Wildeinsisted on thesovereignty ofbeauty andconsidered aesthetic values superiorto moral or socialissues.including morals. Poscia.K. per introdurre nel mondo fittizio e rruccato che essi creavano. and the best that art hasereated. fuggente a perdita d'occhio sotto le sue palpebre chiuse.Huysmans !'\' . I put 011/)'my tale11t i11tOmy works. impregnando il suolo dei loro tenui effluvi. sO\Tappose ad essi un accenno di siringa. l'ayapana. mentre tigli stomlivano al vento. costringendola a tornare nel suo poema come ritornello. poi./ "I pllt alt my genius i11tO111)' tife.~ A"" unzIV and J. [from]. ove sia stata distillata da un arrista. Huysmans. written in 1889bythe ltalianpoet. eomestrom a riehnoble family. -- pursue andtheultimate aimoflite. writtenin 1884 bythe French novelist lK. fittizi lillà fiorirono. annunzianti la femmina incipriata e rruccata: lo stefanoris. il sarcanto. un sentore naturale di esulranze accaldate. Healsochallenged theconventions of histimewithhis extravagant lifestyle. insinuò un bel riuscito accordo di tuberosa.essenza di prato in fior~. andhefoundaffinities between himself andtheexponents ofthedecadent movements. Grazie ai suoi vaporizza tori.the other is Il Piacere. l'opoponax.the life he haschosenleadshimto neurosis. Theheroof A Rebours. di pisello odoroso fusi insieme: una essenza che. Huysmans (1848-1907). sprigionò nella camera essenza d'ambrosia. 1944] . (183"'-1901) The cult of beaut:' !n Wilde.

Andrea Sperelli aspettava nelle sue stanze un'amante. Andrea Sperelli si levò dal divano dov'era disteso e andò ad aprire una delle finestre. D'Annunzio. Il legno di ginepro ardeva nel caminetto e la piccola ta\'ola del tè era pronta. Whatanalogies can you find? 253 ._ - -~ ~ .Hisextreme hedonism leadshimto physicalandmoralcorruption.~ . la fiamma si divise in tante piccole lingue azzurrognole che sparivano e riap-parivano. la trama fiorita delle tendine di pizzo si disegnava sul tappeto. Il mucchio crollò. prese le molle per ranivare il fuoco.. [from G. con lo sguardo dubitante. ne lesse qualche riga. ove sotto le figure erano scritti in carattere corsivo a zàffara nera esametri d'Ovidio. L'ansia dell'aspettazione lo pungeva così acutamente ch'egli aveva bisogno di muO\-ersi. Si chinò verso il caminetto.- " < Il Piacere also presents a youngaristocrat. antiche forme di inimitabile grazia. Mondadori.whobaseshis life on his own aesthetic creed. di operare. Tutte le cose a tomo rivelavano infatti una special cura d'amore. . poi aprì un libro. a foglie e a motti. La luce entrava temperata dalle tende di brQCcatello rosso a melagrane d'argento riccio. .1965] r I r L . con tazze e sottocoppe in maiolica di Castel Durante ornate d'istoriette mitologiche da Luzio Dolci. andthe conclusion of the novelhighlights thefailureof the heroandof hisaesthetic lifestyle. Gabriele D'Annul1lÌo Task ~ Consider what youhave learnedtrom youranalyses of Wilde'sworksand thesetwo passages. poi cercò intorno qualche cosa. di distrarre la pena interna con un atto materiale. i tizzi fumigarono. mise sul mucchio ardente un nuovo pezzo di ginepro.- . lo richiuse. L'orologio della Trinità de' ~Ionti suonò le tre e mezzo.-:jf. poi diede alcuni passi nell'appartamento. AndreaSperelli. Il Piacere. Come il sole pomeridiano feri\'a i vetri. Mancava mezz'ora. i carboni sfavillando rotolarono fin su la lamina di metallo che proteggeva il tappeto.