Oscar Wilde’s autobiographical work on suffering, self-realization, and the artistic process
De Profundis (Latin for “from the depths”) is Oscar Wilde’s reconciliation from a life full of pleasure. In 1891 the author began an intimate relationship with the young aristocrat Lord Alfred Douglas, known to his friends as Bosie. This affair led to speculations about Wilde’s sexuality just as his career was reaching its apex. Ultimately, Bosie’s father, the powerful Marquess of Queensberry, accused Wilde of homosexuality. As this conduct was considered a “gross indecency” punishable by hard labor, this was a serious charge, and one that ultimately landed Wilde in prison.
It wasn’t until January of 1897 that Wilde began to write from his cell. De Profundis, a scathing indictment of his former lover, is the letter that Wilde wrote to Bosie from prison. In addition to detailing the wrongs visited on Wilde by Bosie and his family, De Profundis traces the spiritual growth that Wilde experiences in prison. Having lost everything he holds dear, Wilde transforms his hardship into art.
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