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De Profundis and Other Prison Writings

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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.

232 pages, Paperback

Published April 30, 2013

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Oscar Wilde

5,084 books33.8k followers
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 Earnest.

As the result of a widely covered series of trials, Wilde suffered a dramatic downfall and was imprisoned for two years hard labour after being convicted of "gross indecency" with other men. After Wilde was released from prison he set sail for Dieppe by the night ferry. He never returned to Ireland or Britain, and died in poverty.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 95 reviews
Profile Image for Bea.
196 reviews108 followers
September 22, 2019
'Of course I side with the prisoners: I am one, and I belong to their class now. I am not a scrap ashamed of having been in prison. I am horribly ashamed of the materialism of the life that brought me here. It was quite unworthy of an artist.'

An incredibly powerful collection told through letters from Oscar while in prison in the late 1800's for an unjust reason, and his story of going through an awful lot in his personal life. I am such a huge fan of Oscar’s TPoDG and wanted to know more about his life which this showed perfectly. It was a bit boring at times but remember you are reading letters, not an actual story so not everything will be a tale. 3.5 stars.
Profile Image for Jonfaith.
1,888 reviews1,415 followers
January 18, 2019
The gods are strange. It is not our vices only they make instruments to scourge us. They bring us to ruin through what in us is good, gentle, humane, loving.

While the circumstances of these pieces were tragic, I wasn't moved as I had anticipated. My recent immersion in Will Self had prompted a fit for literary biography and I thought this could be foundational for an Ellmann or two.

Soul of Man is simply wonky. It is a treatise on Art and Law which doesn't begin to ascribe to reality. We watched Modern Times last night and I thought Wilde's Socialism in that context.

De Profundis conversely is steeped in betrayal and the weakness of the flesh. Wilde probes along, establishing detailed accounts of his troubled relationship-- one which bankrupted him and led to his imprisonment. His love for Bosie Douglas is painted patiently, paragraph by paragraph. Bosie isn't a straw man but a talisman of desire, despite how destructive it proved. Bedding Bosie became an enchanted portrait: the cost of such was but everything. It is interesting reflecting on this how martyrdom becomes an enveloping proposition.
Profile Image for Mari.
390 reviews28 followers
June 26, 2021
Oscar Wilde really said "I will destroy this man's whole career because he broke my heart, but make it intelectual".

And I fuck with it, I had a blast reading his pain.
Profile Image for Luana.
158 reviews292 followers
August 1, 2021
De Profundis, along with other prison writings, is an epistolic account of Wilde’s spiritual and emotional journey during his two year imprisonment. The letter, addressed to Lord Alfred Douglas, is an introspection both of the self and of their relationship which ultimately led to his imprisonment. His writing is very personal and very moving and I felt on multiple occasions that I was intruding on something deep and private. My appreciation for this incredible writer and his artistic mind has increased tenfold and rereading his work now will surely be a different experience.
Profile Image for Lakdev.
36 reviews11 followers
April 23, 2022
"The man had killed the thing he loved,
And so he had to die.
And all men kill the thing they love,
By all let this be heard
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!"
Profile Image for Marlene A..
112 reviews3 followers
May 17, 2022
This took me ages to read, because the material was so harrowing, I could not stomach more than a few pages at a time.
The collection includes Wilde’s letters from and after prison, his long letter ‘De Profundis’ to Bosie, and his Ballad of Reading Gaol, which was simply heartbreaking. It was incredibly interesting to read about Wilde’s sentiments towards Bosie, and to learn about what happened between them, but what made it so tough to read was that all the time you try to reconcile the image of this beaten, humiliated man with the witty dandy in colourful velvet jackets we all have in mind when we think of Oscar Wilde. And to read about the realities of prison life at that time, and the tortured children, was simply horrible.
But Wilde’s language - oh, his language - was simply beautiful and a stark contrast to the dark topic. This is a new favourite, and something I will return to in the future.
Profile Image for Mercedes Fernández Varea.
254 reviews72 followers
April 10, 2021
Reseña en cinco minutos y al dictado.

Conocía de la vida y obra de Oscar Wilde cuatro
pinceladas y tal vez por ello la lectura de este libro
me ha resultado hipnótica.
“De profundis” es una larga carta que escribe Oscar Wilde desde la cárcel a su amante. No es una carta concebida para ser publicada y
mientras leo tengo la sensación de estar leyendo lo
que no debiera. De hecho en 1909 se entregó el
manuscrito al British Museum con la condición de
que no se publicara hasta 50 años después. Lo
entiendo. Es territorio privado.

Oscar Wilde nos habla con detalle de la
tormentosa relación con su amante, su sufrimiento
en la cárcel, el nuevo sentido que le da a su existencia
ese cambio desde la vida de los placeres a la vida
de la privación, su renovada visión de Cristo (esta
última parte me aburrió un poco...). Con lenguaje
hermoso, excesivo a veces, le da vueltas y vueltas
a estos temas y el lector intuye que en el fondo lo
que hay es despecho porque su amante no le ha
visitado ni escrito y que esta carta es una llamada para que su
amante le haga caso, en el marco de lo que hoy no
dudaríamos en denominar una relación tóxica.

Me había comprado una edición profusamente anotada, que recomiendo, pero preferí entrar al texto directamente y
una vez leído acabar de entender mejor todo con las
anotaciones. Un gran acierto. Además acabé de leer todas las
cartas que incluye esta edición y que nuestro autor escribió
desde la cárcel: muy interesantes para acabar de conocer la
personalidad de este escritor y con muchos detalles sobre la
vida en las prisiones, como por ejemplo el trato a los niños
encarcelados. Únicamente dejé sin completar la lectura del
poema final: lo siento, pero salvo excepciones la poesía no es
lo mío.

P.S. Muy contenta por haber leído este libro, al que llegué por
una entusiasta reseña de S. por aquí en Goodreads. Creo que
en algún momento me tocará leer alguna obra de Oscar Wilde,
más allá de los cuentos que ya conozco.

Como dato anecdótico contaré que es la primera reseña que no he hecho al dictado y en 5 minutos, sino escribiendo con un lápiz mágico. En vez de 5 minutos llevo 5 días porque no me aclaro... Creo que volveré a ser fiel al dictáfono y si el dictado me traiciona con faltas de ortografía, mala suerte.
Profile Image for nadia | notabookshelf.
367 reviews165 followers
March 28, 2020
Four his mourners will be outcast men,
And outcasts always mourn.

the grey unmarked rating stars at the top of the review are mocking me. how do you rate a tragic loss of one of the most brilliant writers of the 19th century? how do you put into words what The Ballad of Reading Gaol makes you feel? how do you admit to yourself that some of the letters in this collection are too heavy to digest in one go, and there will most likely come a time when you will come back to this book to truly finish it?

i'm rambling, of course, but i am also completely serious. reading this took its toll on me. i shall now forever mourn.
Profile Image for Richard Stuart.
166 reviews15 followers
July 28, 2018
A harrowing letter of self psychoanalysis in solitude, De Profudis is Oscar Wilde's reckoning of his relationship with Alfred Douglas and a plea to 'Bosie' to use his imagination for self discovery and redemption.

Wilde's time in Reading Goal was his 'dark night of the soul' and he slowly came to understand and accept deeper truths of sorrow and shadow which saved him from succumbing to the deplorable conditions of prison. De Profundis is Wilde's metaphysical 'coming out' with all the bitterness and ugliness transcending into imagination and love.

The description of Jesus as the ultimate Romantic Artist is a must read; it is fantastic in its unique vision and heraldry.
Profile Image for Johan Alexander .
174 reviews1 follower
July 15, 2019

Después de leer EL RETRATO DE DORIAN GRAY sentí inesperada nostalgia, un sentimiento que ahogué casi de inmediato con algunos de sus cuentos más populares: EL PRÍNCIPE FELIZ, EL GIGANTE EGOÍSTA y EL FANTASMA DE CANTERVILLE, sólo por mencionar algunos. Oscar Wilde plantó en mi interior la semilla de la curiosidad, un anhelo por conocer más y más acerca de quién fue él en realidad. No obstante, mi búsqueda resultó un fracasó, pues incontables sitios de internet después continué sin saber nada que me resultase relevante, ya que siempre he pensado (no sin motivos, desde luego) que detrás de todos esos fascinantes escritos (posteriormente mencionados) debía haber un alma terriblemente herida. Qué vergüenza sentí al descubrir De profundos un año más tarde, luego de cogerlo con pecaminosa curiosidad. En cuanto descubrí, párrafo a párrafo, las tragedias más crudas que este ser humano con mucho dolor escribió estando confinado en una fétida celda, no me pude detener. Largas noches acompañé a Wilde sin suponer siquiera las humillaciones por las que se vio amenazado. Ahora lo admiro incluso más, cosa que se me antojó imposible, risible. Hasta el último de sus días en confinamiento actuó con las más dulces acciones, capaz de perdonar aun después de tan terribles traiciones, dispuesto a dejar atrás y avanzar, con la frente en alto, como todo un hombre.
January 2, 2022
No me aguanté y lo tuve que terminar. Wow, que buen libro. La manera que tiene de escribir este chabón es hermosa y llevadera, "de profundis" te rompe el corazón y vivís literalmente (porque lo cuenta no) todo lo que vivió Oscar antes de ir a la cárcel. Recomendadísimo, le tenía mucha fé y no me decepcionó, los otros relatos que hay también están muy buenos, hay unas frases que ufff, así que arrancamos el año muy bien .
Profile Image for holly.
77 reviews
August 21, 2023

oh oscar...so beautifully-written, passionate, desperate, wise and bleak. you can very much feel the way that prison breaks him down as you read along (it was harrowing and almost made me cry)!! everything he wrote felt profound and instilled in me a need to single-handedly resurrect the dying art of letter-writing 💌
Profile Image for maï-ly.
94 reviews10 followers
July 22, 2023
“I can be perfectly happy by myself. With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?”
in addition to being so well written, this letter is (unsettlingly?) relatable
Profile Image for Maude Iku.
72 reviews20 followers
May 23, 2022
“Suffering is the means by which we exist, because it is the only means by which we become conscious of existing.”最痛苦的时刻也是最接近神意的时刻。写的明明是世俗的爱与痛,通篇的哀诉和忏悔读起来却有如《福音书》般的气质。
Profile Image for Xinyu.
152 reviews29 followers
April 26, 2016
I am deeply touched by the book.

The book records the letters that Oscar Wilde wrote from the very beginning of his prison life to almost the very end of his life, including the very famous letter De Profundis, which he wrote to his lover, Alfred Douglas.

It reads really sad after one year of hard prison life Wilde had changed so much. His once passionate love “Never has anyone in my life been dearer than you, never has any love been greater, more sacred, more beautiful…” became the very bitterness like “suffering from the most horrible form of eromomania, which made him forget his wife and children,… his very humanity,…the most revolting passions,…hedious ruin”.

De Profundis reads differently than any other letter in the book. It probably is the best love letter I could ever seen, even though it was not meant to be one. However, I feel a person cannot write such a beautiful, sincere and deep letter if all he had was bitterness.

The first part of the letter is the introspection of their two years relationship. While I was reading, I kept wondering how could Wilde love a person like that so much? Wilde answered himself:

But love does not traffic in a marketplace, nor use a hucksters’ scales. Its joy, like the joy of the intellect, is to feel itself alive. The aim of Love is to love: no more, and no less.

The second part of the letter is the introspection on himself. He said “…the two great turning points of my were when my father sent me to Oxford, and when society sent me to prison. …I lived on honeycomb. But to have continued the same life would have been wrong because it would have been limiting.” He repeated again and again “the supreme vice and shallowness. Everything that is realized is right”. I am deeply touched by the strength of humanity: even in the most difficult situation with the saddest heart, we can still find meaning and hope out of it. Wilde’s discussion about love, sorrow, suffering and Christ is extremely sincere and spiritual.

Another reason I like the letter so much is because its introspection is full of compassion to himself and probably only by so then to others. “…one of the things I shall have to teach myself is not to be ashamed of it (note: being the common prisoner of a common gaol). …And if I then am not ashamed of my punishments, as I hope not to be, I shall be able to think, and walk, and live with freedom.” I tend to think only when people fully accept who they are are they able to truly know themselves and share their story in the most sincere way. That’s how I feel in De Profundis, and also what I want to do to myself.

BTW, the language is extremely beautiful. You can see how Wilde’s tone and words varied with different correspondents. The language was powerfully and elegantly controlled. I will read the book again some point later in my life.
Profile Image for Ju*.
92 reviews2 followers
December 4, 2016
Por fin terminé.

Y tengo tantas cosas que decir que no sé por donde comenzar.

De profundis es una carta intensa, expresiva y desesperada dirigida al hombre por el que perdió todo (de forma muy voluntaria a pesar de lo que el mismo Wilde intenta expresar) y que le abandonó en su momento más duro. Es el último grito desde su confinamiento y, probablemente, lo que el veía como la última oportunidad de expiar sus culpas y liberarse de los "pecados pasionales" que finalmente desencadenaron en una serie de acontecimientos que lo metieron a la cárcel.

Hay un montón de cosas muy cuestionables en la carta y también, en las cartas que escribió a sus amigos antes de salir de la cárcel (cosas que a mi no me parecen bien pero que al parecer, en la época se estilaba mucho eso de abusar de tus amigos mientras los tratabas de brutos y personas "Sin imaginación") y otro puñado de cosas que realmente me gustaron mucho.

Ah~ No quiero entrar en demasiado detalles sobre lo que me parece su relación con Alfred Douglas (Porque si lo hiciera no terminaría nunca de escribir) pero esta carta hace evidente el como Wilde intenta quitarse el peso de la culpa (A pesar de que muchas veces dice que sabe que el también tiene culpa, nunca parece estar tan convencido e insiste en culpar de todo al que en ese entonces era su pareja) por lo que creo que es importante leer la carta sin prejuicios contra Douglas y pensar que todo tiene dos versiones y que sólo tenemos la de Oscar Wilde (Lo que no quita que haya llegado a pensar en que, si una misera parte de lo contado es cierta, Alfred Douglas realmente era una pesima persona)

La edición me parece perfecta. Tiene una introducción que te pone en contexto, luego una serie de cartas que vienen a cumplir el mismo trabajo pero que, desde el punto de vista de Oscar Wilde, comienza a preparar el camino para lo que luego es "De Profundis", luego, una serie más de cartas que escribe un poco antes de salir de prisión y luego de hacerlo y, para terminar, "La Balada de la cárcel de Reading", el último texto que escribió. Además de todo lo mencionado, cuenta con generosas notas al pie de página que ayudan a encaminar la lectura sin alejarse del contexto y aportando datos interesantes.

5 Estrellas porque, a pesar de que a momento Oscar Wilde me obligaba a darme palmadas en la cara por las cosas que contaba, también me conmovió profundamente y me guío a lo largo de su penuria con una sosegada y hermosa prosa.
Profile Image for Natalia Bas.
Author 2 books17 followers
March 14, 2020
Libro recomendado: ‘’De profundis y otros escritos de la cárcel’’, de Oscar Wilde. Editor Penguin Clásicos, 1º edición. 336 páginas. Autografía, historia, poesía.
Me gusta este agudo, realista y a la par histriónico autor y he leído bastante de su variopinta obra. Ésta no podía faltarme, después de saber que trataba un tema tan personal.
Una narrativa cruda, desesperada, esperanzada… que nos muestra que la delicadeza del autor no se acabó en la prisión donde fue privado de libertad y de sus deseados libros.
Es impresionante e increíble pensar que alguien con una capacidad tal para calar a la sociedad en general, pudo ser degradado por una persona y su familia, entre, al final, otros; pues la misma sociedad que más tarde lo elogiaría, lo acabó de hundir, directa o indirectamente.
En cierto modo, esta historia (la carta dedicada a su masculino amante), me recuerda a una propia, en la que por suerte pude alejarme de la maldad hecha persona, que pretendía pasar por un ser inocente y fiel. Una persona perturbada que hizo daño a toda mi familia, apoyada por su misma familia. En mi caso, nadie la amaba, como sí parece el caso del autor de este libro, en donde el amor se torna rencor, para acabar convirtiéndose en perdón…
Actualmente, a las personas que viven de ti, de tu buena fe, sobre todo valiéndose de coacción y amenazas, se les llama personas tóxicas; pero también es tóxico el que no pone fin a la situación de degradación a la que es sometido. Los sentimientos pueden llegar a destrozar vidas; aun si pretenden ser buenos. Aun si hablamos de la propia vida. O la de los que amas.
También hay cartas a los seres queridos y a los abogados, etc… del autor. Peticiones y situaciones que también degradan, y pequeñas (en aquel momento, supongo, inmensas,) alegrías, que por otra parte, mantienen entretenida el alma del prisionero.
Y un poema que resume con tanto realismo como romanticismo, a mi parecer, la vida en prisión (en una época en la que los seres autoproclamados ((y aceptados con o sin ganas por el pueblo)) superiores creían que ser homosexual era un delito, pecado y tantas cosas más) pone fin a un escrito lleno de confesiones que no hemos vivido de primera mano.
Profile Image for Cristian.
74 reviews2 followers
February 20, 2023
Adentrarse en la correspondencia de Wilde es profundizar en su forma de ser y conocer un poco mas a esta mente brillante pero muy mal entendido en su época.
Profile Image for urwa.
278 reviews3 followers
May 6, 2020
i am absolutely astounded by his sheer recall, the man quoted shakespeare and dante and any number of works, even the bible, all from memory while in prison!!! dude was a GENIUS

some gorgeous parts:

the supreme vice is shallowness.

there is a tact in love, and a tact in literature: you were not sensitive to either.

the gods are strange. it is not of our vices only they make instruments to scourge us. they bring us to ruin through what in us is good, gentle, humane, loving. but for my pity and affection for you and yours, i would not now be weeping in this terrible place.

in your hideous game of hate together, you had both thrown dice for my soul, and you happened to have lost. that was all.

when i go out of prison, Robbie will be waiting for me on the other side of the big iron-studded gate, and he is the symbol not merely of his own affection, but of the affection of many others besides. i believe i am to have enough to live on for about eighteen months at any rate, so that, if i may not write beautiful books, i may at least read beautiful books, and what joy can be greater?

for prison-life, with its endless privations and restrictions, makes one rebellious. the most terrible thing about it is not that it breaks one’s heart – hearts are made to be broken – but that it turns one’s heart to stone.
Profile Image for Josh.
136 reviews25 followers
October 23, 2018

"Morality does not help me. I am a born antinomian. I am one of those who are made for exceptions, not for laws. But while I see that there is nothing wrong in what one does, I see that there is something wrong in what one becomes. It is well to have learned that."

"Religion does not help me. The faith that others give to what is unseen, I give to what one can touch, and look at. My gods dwell in temples made with hands; and within the circle of actual experience is my creed made perfect and complete: too complete, it may be, for like many or all of those who have placed their heaven in this earth, I have found in it not merely the beauty of heaven, but the horror of hell also."


"When I think about religion at all, I feel as if I would like to found an order for those who cannot believe: the Confraternity of the Faithless, one might call it, where on an altar, on which no taper burned, a priest, in whose heart peace had no dwelling, might celebrate with unblessed bread and a chalice empty of wine. Every thing to be true must become a religion. And agnosticism should have its ritual no less than faith. It has sown its martyrs, it should reap its saints, and praise God daily for having hidden Himself from man. But whether it be faith or agnosticism, it must be nothing external to me. Its symbols must be of my own creating. Only that is spiritual which makes its own form. If I may not find its secret within myself, I shall never find it: if I have not got it already, it will never come to me."


"I want to get to the point when I shall be able to say quite simply, and without affectation that the two great turning-points in my life were when my father sent me to Oxford, and when society sent me to prison. I will not say that prison is the best thing that could have happened to me: for that phrase would savour of too great bitterness towards myself. I would sooner say, or hear it said of me, that I was so typical a child of my age, that in my perversity, and for that perversity’s sake, I turned the good things of my life to evil, and the evil things of my life to good."


"I don’t regret for a single moment having lived for pleasure. I did it to the full, as one should do everything that one does. There was no pleasure I did not experience. I threw the pearl of my soul into a cup of wine. I went down the primrose path to the sound of flutes. I lived on honeycomb. But to have continued the same life would have been wrong because it would have been limiting. I had to pass on. The other half of the garden had its secrets for me also. Of course all this is foreshadowed and prefigured in my books. Some of it is in The Happy Prince, some of it in The Young King, notably in the passage where the bishop says to the kneeling boy, ‘Is not He who made misery wiser than thou art’? a phrase which when I wrote it seemed to me little more than a phrase; a great deal of it is hidden away in the note of doom that like a purple thread runs through the texture of Dorian Gray; in The Critic as Artist it is set forth in many colours; in The Soul of Man it is written down, and in letters too easy to read; it is one of the refrains whose recurring motifs make Salome so like a piece of music and bind it together as a ballad; in the prose poem of the man who from the bronze of the image of the ‘Pleasure that liveth for a moment’ has to make the image of the ‘Sorrow that abideth for ever’ it is incarnate. It could not have been otherwise. At every single moment of one’s life one is what one is going to be no less than what one has been. Art is a symbol, because man is a symbol."


"It is tragic how few people ever ‘possess their souls’ before they die. ‘Nothing is more rare in any man,’ says Emerson, ‘than an act of his own.’ It is quite true. Most people are other people. Their thoughts are some one else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation."


"Christ was not merely the supreme individualist, but he was the first individualist in history. People have tried to make him out an ordinary philanthropist, or ranked him as an altruist with the scientific and sentimental. But he was really neither one nor the other. Pity he has, of course, for the poor, for those who are shut up in prisons, for the lowly, for the wretched; but he has far more pity for the rich, for the hard hedonists, for those who waste their freedom in becoming slaves to things, for those who wear soft raiment and live in kings’ houses. Riches and pleasure seemed to him to be really greater tragedies than poverty or sorrow. And as for altruism, who knew better than he that it is vocation not volition that determines us, and that one cannot gather grapes of thorns or figs from thistles?"


" Philistinism was the note of the age and community in which he lived. In their heavy inaccessibility to ideas, their dull respectability, their tedious orthodoxy, their worship of vulgar success, their entire preoccupation with the gross materialistic side of life, and their ridiculous estimate of themselves and their importance, the Jews of Jerusalem in Christ’s day were the exact counterpart of the British Philistine of our own. Christ mocked at the ‘whited sepulchre’ of respectability, and fixed that phrase for ever. He treated worldly success as a thing absolutely to be despised. He saw nothing in it at all. He looked on wealth as an encumbrance to a man. He would not hear of life being sacrificed to any system of thought or morals. He pointed out that forms and ceremonies were made for man, not man for forms and ceremonies."


"We call ours a utilitarian age, and we do not know the uses of any single thing. We have forgotten that water can cleanse, and fire purify, and that the Earth is mother to us all. As a consequence our art is of the moon and plays with shadows, while Greek art is of the sun and deals directly with things. I feel sure that in elemental forces there is purification, and I want to go back to them and live in their presence."
Profile Image for Ben Hayward.
129 reviews1 follower
February 4, 2023
Particularly heartbreaking to read, not so much because of the unjust destruction of Wilde's reputation and falling out with his lover, but rather due to a sense that his imprisonment has broken him irreparably. I think when we remember famous authors who have been imprisoned, we typically think of the ones who emerged even stronger out the other side (Dostoyevsky and Solzhenitsyn immediately come to mind for me). Not so for Wilde. These last works, while fine, are not his best, and should be approached as grim curiosities.
Profile Image for Jesús Pérez.
75 reviews
July 4, 2022
Entre las obras principales de De Profundis y la Balada que escribió cuando estuvo enclaustrado en las rejas de la ciudad de Reading, en esta edición podemos leer al Oscar Wilde más íntimo y desesperado tras su encarcelamiento por culpa de la denuncia por difamación del conde de Queensberry, padre del joven derrochado y ególatra con el que compartió un romance extramarital. En sus cartas a los distintos destinatarios, se plasma el sufrimiento, la vergüenza, la desesperación y la incertidumbre que el escritor romántico sufrió después de haber vivido la cumbre de su carrera. Del éxito a la ruina, de lujo a la podredumbre más infame e inmisericorde de las cárceles de Inglaterra, surge lo que sería el motor articulador de todo este texto: De Profundis. Como narratario, el joven Bosie o Alfred Douglas, quien fue el causante de toda su desgracia. Una carta donde, bajo su creatividad artística y literaria, expresa el despecho y la ira que su estancia en la cárcel fue causando conforme los días transcurrían, siendo el joven el culpable, por ejemplo, de la pérdida de contacto del escritor con sus hijos. La mayoría de sus plegarias fueron ignoradas por sus amigos y círculos más cercanos, quedando solamente la persona que le distribuía las obras que este les solicitaba. Sin duda, de lo mejor que he encontrado este 2022 y un testimonio de cómo se condenó su homosexualidad hasta tal punto de que él se sentía completamente responsable y culpable de toda su situación. Un texto estremecedor e íntimo, completamente incorregible para un escritor de su talla que, a pesar de su mal momento, jamás perdió el interés por seguir instruyéndose ni dejó morir su gen creativo
Profile Image for Jaljes.
96 reviews4 followers
June 19, 2022
In 1985 Oscar Wilde initiated a prosecution against the Marquess of Queensberry for libel. The Marquess started to harrass Wilde because of his relationship with his son Lord Alfred Douglas (a.k.a. Bosie). Wilde was confident that he would win in court, not knowing that the Marquess would demonstrate the truth of his accusations by paying witnessess to talk about their indecent associations with Wilde. The trials would end up with an incarceration of two years, in spite of the warnings from Wilde's friends to flee to France. Wilde writes to Bosie five days before his imprisonment:

I am going to see if I cannot make the bitter waters sweet by the intensity of the love I bear you.

But the bitter waters would remain bitter, since Lord Alfred Douglas did not write a single letter to Oscar Wilde during his time in prison. Almost at the end of his sentence, Wilde writes De Profundis, a letter addressed to Lord Alfred Douglas, but probably written to himself. The letter is a sort of catharsis that starts with the various complaints Wilde had about his relationship with Bosie, but it then develops into an essay about love, sorrow, beauty, and art among other things.

I don't write this letter to put bitterness into your heart but to pluck it out of mine.

it is truly saddening to read what Oscar Wilde hat to go through because of his relationship with Bosie. Life in jail wore him out, but in this letter he shows his willingness to transform pain into beauty, and I think it's really invaluable to read about everything that happened from Wilde's own pen.
Profile Image for Karenina.
75 reviews
May 2, 2019
Es hermoso, pero le pondré cuatro estrellas por lo complicado que puede resultar para algunos sus referencias de arte, la biblia y, hablando generalmente, de la cultura. No es una obra para todos, pero totalmente recomendable para quienes se animen.
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