Studium anglistiky na KAA UPOL

Wilde, Oscar. (1854 - 1900).

L i f e

- born in Dublin, but settled in England

- sued by his male lover's father for sodomy, sentenced to a 2 year jail, and died a broken man in a Paris exile

W o r k

< influenced by the aesthetic theories of John Ruskin and Walter Pater: became a spokesperson for Aestheticism

C r i t i c i s m :

- an amusingly provocative literary and social critic: questions institutions, moral imperatives, and social clichés

The Decay of Lying (1889):

- a Platonic dialogue claiming that ‘the proper aim of Art’ is ‘the telling of beautiful untrue things’

The Critic as Artist (1890):

- an argument for ‘art for art’s sake’

The Soul of Man under Socialism (1891):

- advocates a larger and expanding idea of freedom from drudgery

F i c t i o n :

The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891):

- a handsome young man in a selfish pursuit of sensual pleasures remains fresh and healthy in appearance x but: his portrait changes to reflect his corrupted soul

D r a m a :

- less successful in tragedies, but greatly original in comedies

- uses aphoristic and paradoxical wit and polished wordplay

- evokes flippancy and snobbery with undercurrents of boredom, disillusion, and alienation

Salome (1894):

- his most influential tragedy: gives an account of the death of John the Baptist x but: includes shocking juxtapositions of repulsion x sexual desire, death x orgasm, etc.

Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892), A Woman of No Importance (1893), An Ideal Husband (1895), and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895):

- successful comedies, mostly based on witty dialogue of dandified male aristocrats

P o e t r y :

“Impression du Matin” (1881):

- the title: French for ‘impression of the morning’

- his distinctive perspective on city streets anticipates T. S. Eliot

“The Ballad of Reading Gaol” (1898):

- sober and emotionally high-pitched, written during his imprisonment


(Photo: Napoleon Sarony. 1882. Source: Wikimedia Commons).

  • Author

    Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde. (1854 - 1900). Irish.
  • Work

    Playwright. Poet. Novelist. Critic. Author of The Importance of Being Earnest (1895).
  • Genres

    Decadence and Aesheticism in 1890s. Verbal comedy.


Abrams, Meyer Howard, ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1993.

Barnard, Robert. Stručné dějiny anglické literatury. Praha: Brána, 1997.

Baugh, Albert C. ed. A Literary History of England. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1967.

Coote, Stephen. The Penguin Short History of English Literature. London: Penguin, 1993.

Sampson, George. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1946.

Sanders, Andrew. The Short Oxford History of English Literature. New York: Clarendon Press, 1994.


"Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever."

From The Importance of Being Earnest (1895).


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