Douglas Dalrymple's Reviews > De Profundis and Other Writings

De Profundis and Other Writings by Oscar Wilde
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Feb 22, 12


Wilde’s 50,000-word epistolary j’accuse to former lover Bosie, written from prison, is also a glorious piece of prose artistry and a fascinating essay on art theory, ethics, and speculative Christian theology. Wilde is in turn unbearably pompous and unbearably sympathetic, preaching with real conviction about his own personal genius one moment and then, with equal conviction, about the necessity of humility. In the final paragraph he admits the inconsistencies.

Wilde must have known that this would end up in print and so we can second-guess his motives and the devastating portrait he paints of Bosie (whose damning fault, in Wilde’s eyes, is a lack of imagination). But there are moments when Wilde’s self-consciousness melts away, when the pain is real and the hard-won insights hit home with force.
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