“Few figures in literature merit both genuine admiration and profound pity as much as Oscar Wilde.”
Today I picked up Sense and Sensuality: Jesus Talks with Oscar Wilde on the Pursuit of Pleasure by Ravi Zacharias. The above quotation is the opening line of the introduction of the book. I have to admit that I feel the same way about Oscar Wilde.
I too believe that Oscar Wilde was a genius as a writer. I think The Importance of Being Ernest is hilarious. Some classmates and I read it together for English Literature II a couple years ago, and had a blast going through it and reading the parts out loud. Last year I read The Picture of Dorian Gray. A darker novel, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this examination of the human soul corrupted by pleasure. I think that Wilde was looking into his own soul as he wrote that book, examining what destruction his lifestyle had brought him. For although he was a genius, he was also a hedonist, and seemed to have no qualms about it. Throughout his life he struggled with his flesh, but eventually he gave in and followed his lusts wherever they took him, much like his character Dorian Gray.
My question is this: What do you do with a great writer who was a hedonist? How much does the character of the author contribute to your affection or dislike for the characters and stories that they have created? And does it matter?
I think that there is no harm in enjoying certain works such as Ernest. But often times the works have been completely corrupted by the perversions of the author. Because of this I am extremely wary of what I read from the secular realm. The character of the author will always show in their work. I avoid anything sexually explicit. When it comes to non-Christian writers I stick almost exclusively to the classics.
What do you think?
Editor’s note: This was supposed to be yesterday’s post, but our network was down yesterday and I wasn’t able to post it until today. We will return to our regular schedule on Monday. Have a great weekend!