De Profundis

( 14 )

Overview

De Profundis (Latin: "from the depths") is a 50,000 word letter written by Oscar Wilde during his imprisonment in Reading Gaol, to Lord Alfred Douglas, his lover.

Wilde wrote the letter between January and March 1897; he was not allowed to send it, but took it with him upon release. In it he repudiates Lord Alfred for what Wilde finally sees as his arrogance and vanity; he had not forgotten Douglas's remark, when he was ill, "When you are not on your pedestal you are not ...

See more details below
De Profundis

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$2.99
BN.com price
Marketplace
BN.com

All Available Formats & Editions

Overview

De Profundis (Latin: "from the depths") is a 50,000 word letter written by Oscar Wilde during his imprisonment in Reading Gaol, to Lord Alfred Douglas, his lover.

Wilde wrote the letter between January and March 1897; he was not allowed to send it, but took it with him upon release. In it he repudiates Lord Alfred for what Wilde finally sees as his arrogance and vanity; he had not forgotten Douglas's remark, when he was ill, "When you are not on your pedestal you are not interesting." He also felt redemption and fulfillment in his ordeal, realizing that his hardship had filled the soul with the fruit of experience, however bitter it tasted at the time.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Displays the insight, honesty, and unself-conscious style of a great writer."
—W. H. Auden
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781604443196
  • Publisher: IndoEuropeanPublishing
  • Publication date: 9/30/2010
  • Pages: 70
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.17 (d)

Meet the Author

Oscar Wilde
La Traduttrice Adelina Manzotti Bignone Morì nel 1933.
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (Dublino, 16 ottobre 1854 - Parigi, 30 novembre 1900) è stato un poeta, aforista, scrittore, drammaturgo, giornalista e saggista irlandese.
Autore dalla scrittura apparentemente semplice e spontanea, ma sostanzialmente molto ricercata ed incline alla ricerca del bon mot, con uno stile talora sferzante e impertinente egli voleva risvegliare l'attenzione dei suoi lettori e invitarli alla riflessione. È noto soprattutto per l'uso frequente di aforismi e paradossi, per i quali è tuttora spesso citato.
L'episodio più notevole della sua vita, di cui si trova ampia traccia nelle cronache del tempo, fu il processo e la condanna a due anni di prigione per avere violato la legge penale che codificava le regole morali in materia sessuale della sua stessa classe sociale.
Molti i libri scritti sulle sue vicende e sulle sue opere, tra le quali, in particolare, i suoi testi teatrali, considerati dai critici dei capolavori del teatro dell'800.
Read More Show Less
    1. Also Known As:
      Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 16, 1854
    2. Place of Birth:
      Dublin, Ireland
    1. Date of Death:
      November 30, 1900
    2. Place of Death:
      Paris, France

Read an Excerpt

Preface by Richard Ellmann


De Profundis is a kind of dramatic monologue, which constantly questions and takes into account the silent recipient's supposed responses. Given the place where it was written, Wilde might have been expected to confess his guilt. Instead he refuses to admit that his past conduct with young men was guilty, and declares that the laws by which he was condemned were unjust. The closest he comes to the subject of homosexuality is to say, impenitently, that what the paradox was for him in the realm of thought, sexual deviation was in the realm of conduct. More than half of De Profundis is taken up by his confession, not of his own sins, but of Bosie's. He evokes two striking images for that young man. One is his favorite passage from Agamemnon, about bringing up a lion's whelp inside one's house only to have it run amok. Aeschylus compared it to Helen, Wilde to Douglas. The other is Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who have no realization of Hamlet's tragedy, being "the little cups that can hold so much and no more."

The main theme of self-recrimination is that he did not break with Bosie. But his letter is an attempt to restore relations. And while he admits to "weakness," he explains the weakness as due to his affection, good nature, aversion to scenes, incapacity to bear resentment, and desire to keep life comely by ignoring what he considered trifles. His weakness was strength. The gods, he has discovered, make instruments to plague us out of our virtues as well as our vices.

Wilde acknowledges that along with good qualities, he was "the spendthrift of my own genius." But he passes quickly over this defect, and thosethat attend it. Much of De Profundis is an elegy for lost greatness. As he whips his own image, he cannot withhold his admiration for what that image was. Elegy generates eulogy. He heightens the pinnacle from which he has fallen:

I was a man who stood in symbolic relations to the art and culture of my age. I had realised this for myself at the very dawn of my manhood, and had forced my age to realise it afterwards. . . . Byron was a symbolic figure, but his relations were to the passion of his age and its weariness of passion. Mine were to something more noble, more permanent, of more vital issue, of larger scope.

The gods had given me almost everything. I had genius, a distinguished name, high social position, brilliancy, intellectual daring: I made art a philosophy, and philosophy an art: I altered the minds of men and the colours of things: there was nothing I said or did that did not make people wonder: I took the drama, the most objective form known to art, and made it as personal a mode of expression as the lyric or the sonnet, at the same time that I widened its range and enriched its characterisation: drama, novel, poem in rhyme, poem in prose, subtle or fantastic dialogue, whatever I touched I made beautiful in a new mode of beauty: to truth itself I gave what is false no less than what is true as its rightful province, and showed that the false and the true are merely forms of intellectual existence. I treated Art as the supreme reality, and life as a mere mode of fiction: I awoke the imagination of my century so that it created myth and legend around me: I summed up all systems in a phrase, and all existence in an epigram.

Continued...
Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

1. Richard Ellmann suggests that De Profundis is a love letter, above all else. Does De Profundis follow the conventional form of a love letter? In what specific ways does De Profundis read like a love letter? In what ways does it differ? What makes it romantic?

2. Examine the letter's structure and define its different parts. Do Wilde's style and tone remain consistent throughout?

3. In De Profundis, Wilde recognizes numerous ironies regarding the circumstances of his imprisonment, most notably that he himself is imprisoned after suing Queensberry for slander. What other ironies (or paradoxes) does Wilde point out? What role does irony play in the letter? Why might Wilde choose to speak in these terms?

4. Do you think Wilde is a reliable narrator? How might his memories of Bosie be influenced by his imprisonment? Do you find his criticism of Bosie fair? Why or why not?

5. Throughout De Profundis, Wilde compares Alfred Douglas to numerous literary figures, from the lion's whelp in Agamemnon to Hamlet's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. What, if anything, do these figures have in common? How are they different? Compare the different contexts in which Wilde alludes to these figures.

6. What sort of freedom awaits Wilde upon his release? How does he aim to live?

7. Dante's Inferno is one of the texts to which Wilde frequently alludes in De Profundis. Examine the different contexts in which he quotes from Inferno. What similarities, if any, can you find? Why do you think Wilde quotes from Dante so often?

8. Discuss Wilde's invocation of Christ as both a literary and a historical figure. Whatquality of Christ does Wilde most admire? Why does Wilde call Christ the first individual in history? In what ways is Christ like an artist, according to Wilde? Richard Ellmann refers to this section as the letter's climax. Would you agree? Why or why not?

9. After providing a withering critique of Alfred Douglas's behavior, Wilde turns his criticism on himself, claiming, "I must say to myself that neither you nor your father, multiplied a thousand times over, could possibly have ruined a man like me: I ruined myself and that nobody, great or small, can be ruined except by his own hand." Examine the reasons he gives for writing this. Do you agree with his claim?

10. Toward the end of the letter, Wilde writes, "A man whose desire is to be something separate from himself, to be a Member of Parliament, or a successful grocer, or a prominent solicitor, or a judge, or something equally tedious, invariably succeeds in being what he wants to be. That is his punishment. Those who want a mask have to wear it." What is the price Wilde has paid for this knowledge? Is this something he could have understood in this youth? Why or why not?

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 14 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(8)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(2)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 – 13 of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2012

    The beginning and the end few pages missing..

    Missing the beginning and the end of the book

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2012

    Repetative

    Story depicts the feelings of Oscar Wilde while imprisoned. Read is repetative and mostly correlates his feelings to the arts and religion.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 13 of 9 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)