Monday, 30 April 2012

Oscar Wilde The Controversial Playwright

                     Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (1854-1900)

The famed 19th Century Anglo-Irish writer Oscar Wilde, had been widely known as a poetic, talented, yet tragic playwright who was renowed for his poignancy and candour in his literary creations.

         Oscar Wilde and his male lover Lord Alfred "Bosie" Douglas

I was introduced into the world of Oscar Wilde at a young age simply because the writer targeted the teenage readers who were attaining puberty age, by addressing their adolescent problems, worries, and inhibitions, head on whilst describing his own experience when he first fell in love in his plays and poems. I must make it clear that I read most of his books in the translated Chinese text as Wilde was immensely popular and fabulous in the Chinese readers’ preferred list for the past one hundred over years. They even gave him a classic Chinese moniker: 王尔德 Wang Er De.  His two articles written in prose少年维特的烦恼 and 少年十五二十时 beguiled the growing age Chinese readers in particular.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was a brilliant, scholarly savant at Oxford for his research studies on Classics of Aesthetics. To earn his upkeep after his medical doctor father’s death in 1876, (His mother was a novelist and a poet too) the prolific playwright wrote numerous stunning articles and plays right after his graduation. In 1882 he began his maiden tour to the US and Canada for a year’s lecture on Classics. It was supposed to be a 50-lecture tour over 4 months; but extended to 140 due to his popularity and fame. Oscar Wilde married Constance Lloyd two years later and together they had two sons, Cyril and Vyvyan. Four years younger than Oscar, Constance was proficient at few European languages, had an independent mind and was well-read.

          Oscar Wilde's tomb at Paris's Cimetiere-Pere-Lachaise graveyard

Soon Oscar found himself in deep trouble when his homosexual relationship with Alfred “Bosie” Douglas was made known to the public. His adverse reputation went further widespread when The Marquis of Queensberry, the father of Bosie accused him of being an immoral gay. Oscar Wide was subsequently arrested for gross indecency and was sentenced to two years of hard labour. His wife Constance left for Switzerland and Italy with his two children and changed her family name to “Holland”. Upon leaving the jail house Oscar had a short lived re-union with his homosexual lover Bosie Douglas but soon after they parted company. Oscar then left for his wondering final  years in Europe, mainly around Paris. His last distinguished work was “The Ballade of Reading Gaol”, in which he described the agony when he was incarcerated in prison.

Oscar Wilde's coloured statue at Merrion Square, Dublin, Ireland.    

By then most of his friends and contemporaries had deserted him for his notoriety, only Bertrand Russell stood above the crowd to defend him. Oscar Wilde died of meningitis in the year 1900 in a small, cheap, run down hotel room in Paris. He was buried at one of Paris’s public graveyard; a human sized statue of the Sphinx at the side of his tomb marked its prominence.


Some of Oscar Wilde’s works had been classified as immorally erotic during his inopportune time of Victorian era. They were incongruous to the society then. His sexual preference was deemed as heretic and unacceptable. He was also known as a narcissist.  Oscar Wilde was only vindicated when the British nation recognized his gusto and contribution in modern English literature by erecting his statue at Adelaide Street, a short distance from the busy Trafalgar Square, London. The statue was aptly named:  A conversation with Oscar Wilde. His famous quote was inscribed  there too: We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.  With homosexuality widely accepted and practiced at this modern times, and no more a taboo, Oscar Wilde had now become a heroic icon amongst his revolutionary, sexual preferential followers.

 The Statue here at Adelaide Street, London is named "A Conversation with Oscar Wilde"

Alan CY Kok

Some of Oscar Wilde’s published works:
The Happy Prince
A Woman of No Importance
The Importance of Being Earnest
The Picture of Dorian Gray
The Ballade of Reading Gaol

His famous Quotes:

Men become old, but they never become good.

Nowadays married men live like bachelors, and
all the bachelors live like married men.

Women are meant to be loved, not to be understood.

The public has an insatiable curiosity to know everything,
except what’s worth knowing.

One should always be in love, that’s the reason one
should never marry.

But this is the best:

Young men want to be faithful and are not,
old men want to be faithless and cannot.

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