The Picture of Dorian Gray

“You will always be fond of me.
I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit.”

Saturated by his famous wit and satire, the novel focuses on themes of extravagance, immorality, and beauty. The narrative is based around the Faustian concept of a young man selling his soul in exchange for eternal youth. As a portrait of the young man withers and fades, his own beauty is preserved in all its glory. The novel raises a whole host of vital questions such as the value of art for art’s sake and society’s vanity. A typically Wildeian epigram from the novel goes: ‘The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it’.

Sir Arthur Savile’s Crime & Other Stories

“I am not at all cynical, I have merely got experience, which, however, is very much the same thing. ”

Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime and Other Stories is a collection of short semi-comic mystery stories that were written by Oscar Wilde and published in 1891. It includes Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime, The Fisherman and His Soul, The Sphinx Without a Secret and The Model Millionaire.

Written between 1887 and 1891, at the height of his creative powers, these stories confirm Oscar Wilde’s reputation as a master storyteller in their sense of fun, quick intelligence and witty dissection of Victorian society. They also reveal his compassion for the poor and downtrodden who were so readily ignored by that age.

The Importance of Being Earnest

“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”

The Importance of Being Earnest draws on elements of farce and melodrama in its depiction of a particular social world. Professor John Stokes considers how Oscar Wilde combined disparate influences into a brilliant satire which contained hidden, progressive sentiments.
A complaint voiced later by a fellow playwright, George Bernard Shaw, that The Importance of being Earnest was Wilde’s ‘first really heartless play’, ultimately makes a point in its author’s favour. Although far from caricatures, Wilde’s characters are scrupulously self-interested and they bear a deliberately simplified and parodic relationship to the aristocracy of his own time. They speak a language that sounds similar to how we might imagine members of that class to have spoken yet doesn’t pretend to be an exact reproduction. In fact, it’s perfectly possible to hear in all the characters echoes of Wilde himself since they are nearly all wits, although their jokes are sometime conscious, sometimes not.