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Oscar Wilde and the Radical Politics of the Fin de Siécle$
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Deaglán Ó Donghaile

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781474459433

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474459433.001.0001

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‘De Profundis’, ‘The Ballad of Reading Gaol’ and the Politics of Imprisonment

‘De Profundis’, ‘The Ballad of Reading Gaol’ and the Politics of Imprisonment

Chapter:
(p.200) Chapter 7 ‘De Profundis’, ‘The Ballad of Reading Gaol’ and the Politics of Imprisonment
Source:
Oscar Wilde and the Radical Politics of the Fin de Siécle
Author(s):

Deaglán Ó Donghaile

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474459433.003.0008

Reading Wilde’s imprisonment as a form of political violence enacted by the state, the final chapter reads “De Profundis” and “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” as works that were formed in response to the coercive force of authority. Wilde’s deeply reflective exploration of autonomy and subversive self-awareness intensified during his incarceration. His identification with dispossession and suffering returned to him as “the very keynote of romantic art” because, in contrast to the unforgiving nature of the bourgeoisie, the poor displayed to one another “the perfect wisdom of Love”. Wilde repeated Kropotkin’s stress on the mutualism of the poor in “De Profundis”, which he amplified through his account of the intensity of his experience of self-realisation in prison. This revealed to him that official history was composed through the force of repression.

Keywords:   Poetry, Alfred Douglas, Imprisonment, Suffering, Selfhood

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