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Oscar Wilde and The Picture of Dorian Gray. History and Biography. Oscar Wilde. Born 1854 – Dublin, Ireland Died 1900 – Paris, France 1884: Married Constance Lloyd T wo children together: Cyril and Vyvyan

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Oscar Wilde and The Picture of Dorian Gray


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oscar wilde
Oscar Wilde
  • Born 1854 – Dublin, Ireland
  • Died 1900 – Paris, France
  • 1884: Married Constance Lloyd
    • Two children together: Cyril and Vyvyan
  • Wrote numerous comic dramas (The Importance of Being Ernest, Lady Windermere’s Fan, etc.)
  • Only one novel (The Picture of Dorian Gray)
oscar wilde cont
Oscar Wilde (cont.)
  • Distinguished as a scholar, poseur, dramatist, and wit
    • Epigrams
  • Outlandish and controversial
    • Languid poses, velvet jacket, knee

breeches, black silk stockings

    • “I have nothing to declare but my

genius.”

the aesthetic movement
The Aesthetic Movement
  • Late 1800s in England
    • Influenced by French Symbolism and Decadence
      • 1884: J.K. Huysmans wrote Á Rebours (Against the Grain)
      • Protagonist estranged from Parisian society and seeks out strange and new experiences
      • Lord Henry gives this book to Dorian in the novel
  • Art is fully autonomous
    • “Art for art’s sake.”
    • Should not be utilitarian or useful, moral or sentimental
    • Should provide only beauty and sensuous pleasure
  • Nature is flawed; only unnatural forms and styles are beautiful
    • Drugs and depravity
personal life
Personal Life
  • Admitted to writing somewhat about himself and his own reckless pursuit of pleasure
  • 1891: Befriended Lord Alfred Douglas
    • Infuriated Marquis of Queensbury, Douglas’ father
  • The Marquis accused Wilde of being a sodomite and Wilde sued him for criminal libel
  • 1895: Sentenced to two years hard labor
  • 1897: Released, and now bankrupt, Wilde moved to Paris, where he died a few years later
wilde s wit
Wilde’s Wit
  • Epigram: Short, witty statement in prose or verse.
    • Paradox used for comic effect
    • Gained by a reversal of the expected meaning
  • “I suppose society is wonderfully delightful. To be in it is merely a bore. But to be out of it simply a tragedy.”
  • “I hope you have not been leading a double life, pretending to be wicked and being really good all the time. That would be hypocrisy.”
  • “I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.”
the picture of dorian gray
The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • Published in 1890/1891
  • Good (Innocence) v. Evil (Sin)
    • Described as “mawkish and nauseous,” “unclean,” “effeminate,” and “contaminating”
  • Not a direct autobiography
    • “Basil Hallward is what I think I am; Lord Henry what the world thinks me; Dorian what I would like to be—in other ages, perhaps.”