De profundis - La Ballade de la geôle de Reading - édition by Oscar Wilde

By Oscar Wilde

25 mai 1895. Oscar Wilde, dramaturge admiré du Tout-Londres et amant de lord Alfred Douglas, est condamné à deux ans de travaux forcés pour «outrage aux moeurs».

Début 1897, l'écrivain brisé, réduit au sinistre matricule «C.3.3.», obtient enfin du directeur de los angeles felony de studying l'autorisation d'écrire. los angeles longue lettre qu'il rédige alors à l'intention de Douglas, à qui il reproche de l'avoir abandonné, ne sera publiée, partiellement, que cinq ans après sa mort : récit autobiographique et méditation existentielle sur l'art et l. a. douleur, De profundis est aussi l'un des plus beaux témoignages qui soient sur l. a. passion.

Quant à l. a. Ballade de los angeles geôle de analyzing (1898), inspirée d'une histoire vraie, elle retrace les derniers jours d'un soldat exécuté pour avoir égorgé sa femme par jalousie. Ce poème poignant est le chant du cygne de Wilde, qui mourut deux ans après sa publication.

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This is the place to thank a famous foreign writer,* who has kindly given some attention to the author of this book. May I show my esteem and gratitude by pointing out an error he seems to have made? ’ There wasn’t any need to study that profession of faith so solemnly. The author never has deviated from it, and never will. It can be reconciled readily enough with ‘the ugly ought to be imitated, the grotesque ought to be a component of art’. The two statements aren’t contradictory. The distinction between beauty and ugliness in art doesn’t correspond exactly to that in nature.

All these creations have an inherently vigorous, profound character from which the ancient world apparently tended to flinch. The Greek Eumenides are decidedly less horrible, and therefore decidedly less real, than the witches of Macbeth. Pluto* isn’t the devil. In my view, a most original book could be written about the use of the grotesque in art. Such a book could show what powerful effects modern artists have drawn from that fruitful type, which is still attacked by conservative critics today.

Callot’s orgies, Salvator Rosa’s Temptation with its extraordinary devil, his Battle with all its ghastly figures of death and carnage, Bonifacio’s Triboulet, Murillo’s fleabitten beggar, and the carvings in which Benvenuto Cellini makes fun of such hideous figures in arabesques and acanthuses, are ugly things from the standpoint of nature, beautiful things from that of art; while nothing is ‘uglier’ than all the Greek and Roman profiles, the patchwork ideal beauty emitted by the second-rate school of David* with its fluffy purplish colouring.

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