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'De Profundis' remains Wilde's greatest piece of prose-writing (Colm Tóibín)

Présentation de l'éditeur

De Profundis and Other Prison Writings is a new selection of Oscar Wilde's prison letters and poetry in Penguin Classics, edited and introduced by Colm Tóibín.At the start of 1895, Oscar Wilde was the toast of London, widely feted for his most recent stage success, An Ideal Husband. But by May of the same year, Wilde was in Reading prison sentenced to hard labour. 'De Profundis' is an epistolic account of Oscar Wilde's spiritual journey while in prison, and describes his new, shocking conviction that 'the supreme vice is shallowness'. This edition also includes further letters to his wife, his friends, the Home Secretary, newspaper editors and his lover Lord Alfred Douglas - Bosie - himself, as well as 'The Ballad of Reading Gaol', the heart-rending poem about a man sentenced to hang for the murder of the woman he loved. This Penguin edition is based on the definitive Complete Letters, edited by Wilde's grandson Merlin Holland. Colm Tóibín's introduction explores Wilde's duality in love, politics and literature. This edition also includes notes on the text and suggested further reading. Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin. His three volumes of short fiction, The Happy Prince, Lord Arthur Savile's Crime and A House of Pomegranates, together with his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, won him a reputation as a writer with an original talent, a reputation enhanced by the phenomenal success of his society comedies - Lady Windermere's Fan, A Woman of No Importance, An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest. Colm Tóibín is the author of five novels, including The Blackwater Lightship and The Master, and a collection of stories, Mothers and Sons. His essay collection Love in a Dark Time: Gay Lives from Wilde to Almodovar appeared in 2002. He is the editor of The Penguin Book of Irish Fiction.

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ALTHOUGH Oscar Wilde started and ended his literary career with a volume of verse, his best poetry was in prose: that is, his imagination flowed naturally in the form of prose. Lire la première page
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Couverture | Table des matières | Extrait | Quatrième de couverture
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11 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Wilde's lowest moments 15 janvier 2007
Par James McPherson - Publié sur
Format: Broché
Written as a letter to Bosie, De Profundis shows an author at the peak of his powers, yet tragically already fallen. Anger, disgust, revulsion, joy, reflection - in many ways a total separation from the glib and cocky literature that made him famous - the full gamut of a humbled man. Even missing the cheeky humor and quick turn of phrase there is still a solid thread of consistency entombed in De Profundis, that of salvation. From the grace evident in his fairy tales to the recognition of inner justice in Dorian Gray, Wilde flirted with the themes of the Divine and of sacrifice. This is one of the finest, and most powerful, personal essays ever committed to paper. No collection, or indeed beginnings of understanding, of Wilde can possibly be complete without it.
3 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A post-Miller reading of De Profundis 3 janvier 2010
Par César Tort - Publié sur
Format: Broché
Who never ate his bread in sorrow
Who never spent the midnight hours
Weeping and waiting for the morrow.
He knows you not, ye heavenly powers!

As I asked in my blog's entry today, When will the counter-jihadists or the white nationalists realize that only through what Solzhenitsyn called the development of the soul we will be able to understand the whys of today's crisis? Only after they suffer The Crash. After that, a few of them might become familiar with the legacy of Alice Miller...

I am so surprised. Fifteen years ago I read Oscar Wilde's most profound, confessional book. But like the rest of mankind I was blind and did not see the obvious. Today I reread my notes of a 1943 Spanish translation of De Profundis and couldn't believe how much I have changed since 1995.

I discovered Alice Miller in 2002. Her books changed my life. These days I reread a newer, albeit identical copy of De Profundis that was at my family's library and a whole new Wildean universe emerged. How could I have read Wilde in the dark before the transforming experience that represented Miller?

The real title that Wilde chose for this letter-book was Epistola in Carcere et Vinculis. It is a shame that, although Wilde constantly mentions in this epistle to his former boyfriend Alfred Douglas, "Bosie", that he would soon make it reach Bosie's very hands, Wilde never dared to deliver De Profundis to him.

Wilde's De Profundis is actually two books inside one cover: an accusative and self-accusative epistle and a soul-searching incursion unrelated to Bosie, where Wilde writes page upon page about "Christ". All of this idealization of Jesus only reflects Wilde's literary and artistic mind, who always strove to look for beauty. But there's something real in his spiritual quest. Unlike the Greek gods the new religion includes pain, the key to open the door to know oneself. It's pain what made Wilde's soul to flower at prison. Wilde met deep pain doing hard labor: it was there where he had to go though the agonies of losing the right to see his children forever (Wilde also lost his personal library; and felt like a zoo animal when exposed, with his prison uniform, at a train station before a laughing crowd). When I hit Wilde's phrase "And to mock at a soul in pain is a dreadful thing" I couldn't help but remember how, when I was still a minor and lost everything--my family, my career and even my mind--, a high school pseudo-friend mocked at me.

What struck me the most in this second, mature reading of De Profundis is that through his turbulent conflict with Bosie Wilde behaved like a pathetic dumb. While Wilde fully acknowledges the dumbness, he fails to confess that the reason for extreme dumbness is Eros, or rather, a sort of pathological Eros. Sex is the giant piece missing in the puzzle in De Profundis.

More serious is that Wilde never developed a good amount of hatred. He lived under the sky of regarding as highly sinful the legitimate feelings of hatred. Hence he could never really break away from Bosie, not even after he was released from prison!

Thanks to Miller, I realized that hate, not acting-out hatred but legit hate, is the way out of unhealthy relationships and entanglements. Susan Forward has also written books about the legit hatred we must feel toward our abusive parents before being capable of breaking away from a hellish relationship with our partner. Let me quote the words of Andreas Wirsén, a Swede lover of literature whose life also was transfigured by Miller:

"That the author is secretly smuggling out and reworking, often lying about and numbing, their abusive emotional childhood is something Alice Miller tends to imply when dealing with works of art, a mode of thinking we as her readers easily slip into, isn't it? That Kafka's work is basically explainable as artistic dramatization of a child's insecurity about his parents true agenda, that the vampiric women of Baudelaire's poems are in fact his emotionally unavailable and seductive mother... --this is still the only opening to Baudelaire's work I can stand, the only way in which I can read his work with interest. In this way, artistic work after Alice Miller demands a new openness and consciousness in the producer. We can't only chew and chew the unworked-through emotions from our childhood and find creative ways of repackaging them, then call it Art. It's a new game now." (end of Wirsén quote)

Of course, Wilde lived before Miller was born. Following Miller I surmise that Wilde must have had an abusive childhood. It's the only way to explain why he allowed to be treated so grotesquely bad by his destructive pseudo-ephebe lover ("pseudoephebe" I say since Bosie was no longer an adolescent when he met Wilde).

In a mere book-review I cannot introduce the revolutionary psychological views of Miller. I devoted the third book of my unpublished Hojas Susurrantes series to it. Here I am writing for those who have already read, and assimilated, Miller. Miller readers will readily understand why Wilde's very repetitive phrase in De Profundis "your noble father" only reflects that Wilde was immersed in poisonous pedagogy.

Bosie never had what Miller calls an "enlightened witness", although he seems to have looked very hard for it in the fatherly person of Wilde. I cannot blame Wilde because very few souls, if any, had an enlightened witness in 19th century England. Had Wilde been Bosie's witness, he would have recommended him to write a long, vindictive letter to his abusive father, just what Kafka would do in 1919 (what Sue Forward recommends to her psychotherapy clients). But throughout De Profundis it is clear that both Wilde and Bosie were absolutely clueless about the nature of the problem. Wilde even reproaches Bosie for trying to expose publicly the abusive behavior of Bosie's father, the Marquess of Queensberry.

Wilde himself never had an enlightened witness. In fact, his death was virtually a suicide since, once released from prison, Wilde drank a lot, including absinthe, and died prematurely at forty-six.

Likewise, Bosie never found an enlightened witness. In fact, after Wilde died Bosie married and abused his only child, Raymond, so badly that he schizophrenized him. I find it scandalous that psychotherapist Daniel Mackler claims having assimilated Miller and, at the same time, he buries his head deep into the sand as to the schizophrenogenic-parent theory, as I rebuke him in a YouTube video. Coward or pseudo-readers of Miller aside, it's remarkable to what extent deep psychology has advanced since Wilde's De Profundis written in 1897 and Miller's most comprehensive book, Breaking Down the Wall of Silence, published a hundred years later, in 1997.

Unlike Andreas Wirsén, I am no lover of literature. However, I loved those splendid passages in De Profundis that reminded me Solzhenitsyn's chapter "The Soul and the Barbed Wire" in his immortal Gulag. Wilde's De Profundis is probably the best in-depth, soul-surfing text that could be written by the end of the 19th century. But there's no question that we need a 21st century writer that advances the Miller paradigm further; for instance, by analyzing the great figures in literature under "the new game" that Wirsén talks about above.

At the end of the unabridged De Profundis (the available texts I've seen in the net are censored) Wilde blew up everything by writing to the very one who ruined his life in conciliatory terms, and even suggesting he would met Bosie after leaving prison! Again, the fundamental sin of pre-Millerian humans is the prohibition to hate, say, as I openly hate Teresa.

Final note about my first reading of De Profundis:

Yesterday I read my 1995 handwritten notes within my old copy. I wrote those notes seven years before my inner transformation took place.

It does not cease to strike me my former blindness in psychologicis. During my first reading of De Profundis I didn't see anything of what is crystal-clear to me by now. Fifteen years ago I almost blamed myself, following Wilde's own words, for my former hatred toward those who destroyed my life during my teens. Following Wilde, I also blamed myself for the many soliloquies I had had in my vain efforts to process the pain.

Now I know that due processing of the pain can only come with the advent of a true enlightened witness, or, alternatively, when we find that witness after doing an emotional contact with our inner child. This happened to me after reading Miller: a witness that neither poor Wilde nor poor Bosie had.
Oscar Wilde is always worthwhile 11 août 2013
Par Theresa Clarke - Publié sur
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Great intro and more insight into this literary, self-destructive but literary genius. A keeper. The only books I own vs. library books - Oscar Wilde.
0 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
WHO RIDES A WHA 14 septembre 2013
Par gcd - Publié sur
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
never did like the posture but another 1 got flayed because the sun in the west was away to an early bird catchin another
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