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De Profundis, The Ballad of Reading Gaol & Other Writings

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  199 ratings  ·  16 reviews
De Profundis is Oscar Wilde's eloquent and bitter reproach from prison to his lover, Lord Alfred Douglas ("Bosie"). In an extended letter, Wilde accuses Lord Alfred of selfishness, shallowness, parasitism, greed, extravagance, tantrums, pettiness, and neglect. He contrasts this behaviour towards him with the selfless devotion of his close friend, Robert Ross, who became Wi ...more
Paperback, 296 pages
Published July 5th 1999 by Wordsworth Classics
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Lynne King
Ian reminded me of this brilliant book today when he made a reference to Wilde's writings. "De Profundis" is exquisite and it's worth acquiring the book purely for that.

When I lived in Aix-en-Provence in 1992 for a year, I purchased Gabriel Matzneff's book of "Le Portrait de Dorian Gray, Nouvelles fantastiques, Contes, De profundis, Quelques cruautés de la vie de prison" but I cannot find this on Goodreads for some obscure reason even though there are other books by him.

My French was really awfu
Alexander Arsov
Oscar Wilde

De Profundis,
The Ballad of Reading Gaol,
and Other Writings

Wordsworth Classics, Paperback, 2002.

8vo. xx+296 pp. Introduction [viii-xx] and Notes [pp. 281-290] by Anne Varty.

First published in Wordsworth Classics, 1999.
Introduction and Notes, 2002.


Further Reading

De Profundis
The Ballad of Reading Gaol
The Decay of Lying
The Critic as Artist
The Soul of Man under Socialism



I forgot who said that no other composer ever c
Caroline Sweeney
de profundis is a letter that no lover or friend would want to receive. It reveals Wilde as a poet and a philosopher. A truely amazing and heart-felt read.
Michael Hurley
If this were not part of our Great Books at Colby reading this Summer I probably would never have picked this up. I'm not homophobic; its just that I find love letters, as those that precede De Profundis, to be a tad intrusive whether between O'Keefe and Stieglitz or Wilde and Douglas. On the off chance that Douglas was half the spoiled, entitled boor he's made out to be I sort of enjoyed the skewering. Wilde has a lot to say in this letter intended for a far wider readership than the addressee, ...more
Adam Floridia
Although as marvelous in language as any of Wilde's fiction, De Profundis is 80 pages of passive-agressive (and at times overtly-agressive) whining to the man responsible for his imprisonment. Mixed into the 80 page tirade--perhaps the most venomous post-break-up letter ever--is a 30 page epiphany about the nature of art (Jesus was the first true Romantic), the importance of Sorrow, and a sense of coming to terms with life's misfortunes. However, Wilde's realizations and moments of forgiveness a ...more
Asab Asab
De profundis: A letter to his "latest" friend. Unsuspected spiritual longing of the days Wilde spent in prison. Many reflections on Jesus Christ.

Ballad of Reading Gaol: Beautiful and dark piece of poetry about the prison.

Other writing I skipped.
I was very young when I read this and I am certain, remembering what a struggle it was to finish it, that a great deal was over my head. I spent a lot of time pondering the word "goal", knowing it meant jail, trying to get my head wrapped around pronouncing it jail. You see what I mean about understanding. I just reread it in a matter of minutes and it didn't seem difficult at all, but all the mystery of trying to find meaning in a jungle of strange words and convoluted expressions was gone. I d ...more
K Yuan
Oscar Wilde is a beautiful soul.
Nov 2011: "The Ballad of Reading Gaol", 2 of 5.
Nov 2011: "The Soul of Man Under Socialism", 2 of 5. Throughout the most of this, all I could think was, "Wow, he's completely off-topic."
Oct 2011: De Profundis, 4 of 5.
Mar 1997: "The Decay of Lying", 4 of 5.
Besides the brilliant intellectual essays and the superb ballad of Reading Gaol, i was deeply moved by Wilde's terrible misfortune. (see more on my blog)
Slow going. But something that sounds like what I'd write. Very conversational.
Sep 23, 2009 Annisa added it
Shelves: compilations
"The supreme vice is shallowness". Yes, indeed.
Feb 13, 2013 Nisa added it
Shelves: compilations
"The supreme vice is shallowness". Yes, indeed.
Maggie Emmett
Well, I do come from Reading !
Finally I finished it :)
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The image of Oscar Wilde 1 1 Aug 19, 2013 02:41PM  
  • Selected Poems
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Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish playwright, poet and author of numerous short stories and one novel. Known for his biting wit, and a plentitude of aphorisms, he became one of the most successful playwrights of the late Victorian era in London, and one of the greatest celebrities of his day. Several of his plays continue to be widely performed, especially The Importance of Being E ...more
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The Picture of Dorian Gray The Importance of Being Earnest The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays   An Ideal Husband The Canterville Ghost

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“When I say that I am convinced of these things I speak with too much pride. Far off, like a perfect pearl, one can see the city of God. It is so wonderful that it seems as if a child could reach it in a summer's day. And so a child could. But with me and such as me it is different. One can realise a thing in a single moment, but one loses it in the long hours that follow with leaden feet. It is so difficult to keep 'heights that the soul is competent to gain.' We think in eternity, but we move slowly through time; and how slowly time goes with us who lie in prison I need not tell again, nor of the weariness and despair that creep back into one's cell, and into the cell of one's heart, with such strange insistence that one has, as it were, to garnish and sweep one's house for their coming, as for an unwelcome guest, or a bitter master, or a slave whose slave it is one's chance or choice to be.” 5 likes
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