Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Author: Michèle Mendelssohn

Oscar Wilde’s lecture tour of the US

After Oscar Wilde graduated from Oxford, he moved to London and fell into unemployment and although he tried his hand at different jobs he couldn’t find any stable source of income. However, he did become friends with some of the celebrities of the day and attracted the attention of the caricaturist of Punch magazine, which eventually brought him to the attention of theatre promoter Richard D’Oyly Carte.

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How Oscar Wilde got his big break

In the late 1870s, when he was still a student, Oscar Wilde gathered his college friends for a late night chat in his Oxford room. The conversation was drifting to serious topics.
“You talk a lot about yourself, Oscar,” one of them said, “and all the things you’d like to achieve. But you never say what you’re going to do with your life.”

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How Oscar Wilde’s life imitates his art

The idea that life imitates art is one of Oscar’s best yet most often misunderstood. It is central to his philosophy and to his own life. Take The Decay of Lying, for example, an essay in the form of a dialogue that he wrote in the late 1880s. What did he call the interlocutors? Why Cyril and Vyvyan, the names of his two young sons, of course. But the piece’s intellectual party really gets started when Wilde has his learned young gentlemen interview each other. Naturally, what is uppermost in their minds is the relationship between life and art.

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