Sunday, December 18, 2011

Wild for Wilde

The writings of Oscar Wilde have always been among my favorite. The plays are witty with fast-paced language. The audience of the Victorian era both wished to be entertained and shocked.

Oscar Wilde may be the most noted celebrity of Victorian Times. He was famous for being himself. His dress and witty conversation at parties made him famous before he had produced much. Imagine what he could have done with social media!

His writings challenged the standards of the day. He asked the audience to look at those issues which were hypocritical and did it in a humorous way. He lived as he wrote, with the freedom of the thoughtful, upper middle class. What he lacked was the carte blanche of the titled English upper class which was his undoing.

Beginning as a poet, he wrote the most charming children’s stories including the Happy Prince, followed by his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Thereafter, he focused on plays which brought him much notoriety. While Lady Windemere’s Fan and Salome were outrageous by Victorian standards, the audience loved Wilde for his blunt honesty in what was a most coy and indirect society. The Ideal Husband and the Importance of Being Earnest continuing with his theme of true versus covert identity are the two plays most often performed. Most of his works are regularly cited in colleges, his plays performed regularly and much of his work converted into television and movie scripts.

Without a doubt, Wilde’s writings speak to the heart of modern society and we love him. We can only hope the bigotry that gave speed to his early death will be left behind, opening the opportunity for pure celebration of a truly great writer.
The Wilde legacy lives on in his grandson Merlin Holland and his son, Lucien.

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