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Thread: Is Oscar Wilde overrated?

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    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    Is Oscar Wilde overrated?

    Thoughts?

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    In the fog Charles Darnay's Avatar
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    I think he is very deserving of the praise he gets. I would also argue that relatively few of his works are actually well-known.
    I wrote a poem on a leaf and it blew away...

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    Nope.

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    Card-carrying Medievalist Lokasenna's Avatar
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    I don't think he was overrated either. The one thing I will say though is that he was unable to live up to his considerable potential because of the circumstances of his life. Earnest to me represents the first full-flowering of his genius, and the fact that it was his last play, and the last example of his 'philosophy of pleasure', is a travesty - in my opinion, for what it's worth, the 20th century was robbed of its greatest playwright.
    "I should only believe in a God that would know how to dance. And when I saw my devil, I found him serious, thorough, profound, solemn: he was the spirit of gravity- through him all things fall. Not by wrath, but by laughter, do we slay. Come, let us slay the spirit of gravity!" - Nietzsche

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    I love Oscar Wilde. I think he may even be underrated. I wasn't even introduced to him until my third semester in college when I took a class called "The Novel" where we read various books. I really wish I had read him sooner. More of his work, in my opinion, should be a bit more well-known as well.

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    depends mostly on how you rate him

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    A User, but Registered! tonywalt's Avatar
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    Dorian Gray and An Ideal Husband are my two favourites, the latter is almost as good as Ernest

    This question likely arises from the fact that his life is arguably better known than his works - most people recognize the name. I would say his suffering paved a smoother road for others of that persuasion- in time. In this respect his name comes up today more than his works.

    Funny enough his great grandson looks alot like him. http://pedertastic.tumblr.com/post/1...great-grandson
    Last edited by tonywalt; 09-18-2012 at 03:54 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lokasenna View Post
    I don't think he was overrated either. The one thing I will say though is that he was unable to live up to his considerable potential because of the circumstances of his life. Earnest to me represents the first full-flowering of his genius, and the fact that it was his last play, and the last example of his 'philosophy of pleasure', is a travesty - in my opinion, for what it's worth, the 20th century was robbed of its greatest playwright.
    I totally agree with that. Wilde's work was only getting better with age. Earnest was something quite different to all of his other plays; it was the one where he really, eventually, found his own voice. Somebody, I think it was Robert Ross, said that if Wilde had not come to the end he had could have polished off several dozens of plays equal to, or better than, Earnest with ease. Ross said that how easily Wilde had written Earnest was quite frightening.


    In terms of intellect you would do well not to underestimate him. Don't be fooled by the ease of his style, Wilde was no intellectual lightweight, not by a long shot. As well as massively well read in terms of literature past and present, he was also fully up to date with the latest scientific and philosophical thinking (see his Oxford Diaries for a very serious Oscar Wilde.) He had a near photographic memory. He could read a novel within 30 minutes with near perfect recall and suggest improvements. He once joked that writing popular novels would be so easy that it would be boring. He could have been a turn of the century Dickens in his sleep.

    In terms of conversation, Wilde was utterly dazzling, certainly unsurpassed in his century, perhaps of all time. Overrated? No chance.
    Last edited by Neely; 09-18-2012 at 04:01 PM.

    Oscar Wilde (1854-1900).

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    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lokasenna View Post
    In my opinion, for what it's worth, the 20th century was robbed of its greatest playwright.
    You have to be joking. I enjoy his plays as well-crafted trifles, good examples of 19th century plays of which there are not many of notable quality, but I think he would have been too old-fashioned. Noel Coward is the obvious successor and I think Coward would have outdone Wilde.

    There's just something about his endless quipping that makes him come off as smug. Quipping works in the plays but it really slowed down The Picture of Dorian Gray. Perhaps familiarity breeds contempt but to me, his wit comes off as glib rather than incisive.
    Last edited by kelby_lake; 09-18-2012 at 04:48 PM.

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    Card-carrying Medievalist Lokasenna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kelby_lake View Post
    You have to be joking. I enjoy his plays as well-crafted trifles, good examples of 19th century plays of which there are not many of notable quality, but I think he would have been too old-fashioned. Noel Coward is the obvious successor and I think Coward would have outdone Wilde.

    There's just something about his endless quipping that makes him come off as smug. Quipping works in the plays but it really slowed down The Picture of Dorian Gray. Perhaps familiarity breeds contempt but to me, his wit comes off as glib rather than incisive.
    I'm completely serious. I love Noel Coward, but I don't think he would have matched what Wilde would have become (though he does, of course, follow on naturally from Wilde). As for old fashioned, well I suppose that's subjective. But, for example, I would consider Yeats the finest poet of the 20th century in the English language, an opinion I would not be alone in, and he was only a decade removed from Wilde. If Oscar Wilde had also lived into his mid-seventies untroubled by prison, then I suspect he would have cast as long a shadow over the theatrical world of the 20th century as Yeats did over its poetic world, perhaps even more so.
    "I should only believe in a God that would know how to dance. And when I saw my devil, I found him serious, thorough, profound, solemn: he was the spirit of gravity- through him all things fall. Not by wrath, but by laughter, do we slay. Come, let us slay the spirit of gravity!" - Nietzsche

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    But Young Yeats was already some steps ahead of Wilde.

    And I really dont know if Wilde would get better than Bernard Shaw which witty is even with Wilde, if not more interesting, as Wilde is full of witty about himself. And it is not necessary true, people will improve with time, sometimes they just stop. I found for example, some earlier works of Wilde, the faery tales like The Happy Prince or the Nightingale and the Rose among his best works.

    He is good, but not so deep as people make to be.

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    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    I think that few men have been sent to perdition with a louder cry of hounds behind them than Oscar Wilde. Almost like the body-snatchers of literature; for when this writer died, it was as though the dust had been given to one and the ashes to another, but the soul remained out of their reach, for it was a man who said that he put his genius into his life, keeping only his talent for his books.

    By todays more tolerant standards it is now possible to write of him, as one could conceivably write of Caesar Borgia sinning in purple and Cleopatra sinning in gold.
    I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed: “The Importance of being Earnest, A Woman of No Importance, Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime” and find delightful even his shorter prose pieces like, “The American Invasion.”

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    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    And I really dont know if Wilde would get better than Bernard Shaw which witty is even with Wilde, if not more interesting, as Wilde is full of witty about himself.
    I agree. Shaw seems to be another natural descendent. Wilde's plays rely on the customs and attitudes of the 19th century. I don't think he would have been able to adjust to the 20th century. Many great playwrights, Noel Coward and Terence Rattigan for example, are masters of the era they wrote for but the quality of their plays decreased. And I think both Coward and Rattigan have written plays that are more than period pieces.

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