B IO Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin, Ireland on 16 October 1854. Drama and tragedy marred Wilde's private life. He married Constance Lloyd in 1884 and they had two sons, but in 1891 Wilde began an affair with Lord Alfred Douglas, nicknamed 'Bosie'. In April 1895, Wilde sued Bosie's father, the Marquis of Queensberry, for libel, after the Marquis has accused him of being homosexual. Wilde lost and, after details of his private life were revealed during the trial, was arrested and tried for gross indecency. He was sentenced to two years of hard labor. His wife took their children to Switzerland and adopted the name 'Holland'. Wilde was released with his health irrevocably damaged and his reputation ruined. He spent the rest of his life in Europe, publishing 'The Ballad of Reading Gaol' in 1898. He died in Paris on 30 November 1900.
W HY DO PEOPLE WANT / NEED TO ESCAPE FROM LIFE ? W HY IS LIFE SO INFERNAL ? Student discussion: how do YOU escape when you need to? What is YOUR safe haven? Known forms of escapism through: - nature - excess (debauchery…) - being aloof, cold, reportorial
R OMANTICISM sandwiched between Romanticism and Modernism Romanticism – artistic and literary movement between 1800-1850 Europe; the Industrial Revolution, poverty, capitalist exploitation, factory smoke stacks, filth, exploitation of child labor, no work insurance… led to disappointment and escapism into nature (Wordsworth), foreign countries (Byron, Coleridge), drugs such as opium. - Art – landscapes, Nature
Nature is the greatest magnificence of God’s creation – the Sublime = the feeling of awe when you look at the Grand Canyon – it’s so beautiful but overwhelmingly huge that it’s terrifying. Caspar David Friedrich: Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog
R EALISM mid 19 th century criticized society with reportorial accuracy – the writer doesn’t judge his characters though the characters are flawed. Authors described in great detail poor living conditions, female sexuality, prostitution… e.g. Madame Bovary by Flaubert (loose woman, doesn’t like her child and feels trapped by her), Nana by Emile Zola (prostitute – scat vomit) or any novel by Charles Dickens – A Christmas Carol, Great Expectations, Tale of Two Cities.
R EALISM – PAINTING T HE T HIRD -C LASS C ARRIAGE, H ONORÉ D AUMIER (F RENCH, 1808–1879)
DECADENCE the ultimate escape from reality which is suffocating, forcing us to live a lie, be who we are not; e.g. homosexuality. Decadence compels one to cloister oneself from the world, to lose oneself in art – the trigger for this state is terror, but the result is horror. a 19 th century French movement marked by moral decay and hedonism (the opposite of asceticism). The Decadents believed that art was superior to nature and that the finest beauty could be found in dying or decaying things. Some of the qualities of Decadent writing include but are not limited to excessive self-centeredness or self- absorption, restless curiosity, overly ornate refinement, eccentricity, and moral perversity (necrophilia, drug use, wanton violence, sadism, masochism). The Decadents attacked the moral and social standards of their time, such as bourgeoisie tastes (nouveau riche, petty middle class), religiosity, hypocritical morality. Thus, they wanted to upset the status quo of their society by satirizing it. Some of the well-known Decadents were Paul Verlaine ( Saturnine Poems ), Arthur Rimbaud (A Season in Hell ), Charles Baudelaire ( Flowers of Evil ), and Joris-Karl Huysmans ( Against Nature ). Against Nature is the unnamed novel or “ the yellow book ” which Lord Henry hands to Dorian Gray on his birthday at the beginning of The Picture of Dorian Gray, which ends up corrupting Dorian. Although this book isn’t specifically named in the novel, Oscar Wilde did cite this novel as the referenced novel
J ORIS -K ARL H UYSMAN ’ S A GAINST N ATURE about a character who has a nervous breakdown, isolates himself in a mansion, blocks out the light, and has his walls painted in ocher colors because they bring out the pretties colors in candlelight. To emphasize this effect, he has a tortoise studded with gems so that the gems would prism the light against the walls and ceiling. However, the tortoise’s shell is so heavy, that the animal develops heart failure and dies.
T HE T OILET OF H ELEN, A UBREY B EARDLEY, 19 TH CENT. B RITISH WRITER AND ILLUSTRATOR
One idea of Pompeii has dominated popular consciousness through art and literature: The cataclysmic eruption that destroyed the Vesuvian cities in A.D. 79 was a justly deserved punishment for sin—whether erotic excess, gluttony, violence, greed, or a failure to accept Christianity. This notion of Pompeian decadence has provided an acceptable setting for modern artists to present sensual scenes or subversive themes. It has also offered a vehicle to explore contemporary issues related to class privilege, slavery, sexuality, memory, and personal identity.
M ODERNISM late (1890s) 19 th century to mid 20th art movement that embraces the destructiveness and FRAGMENTATION and the ugliness of modern civilization, unlike Romanticism (which wants to escape from it) Modernism celebrates the destruction, the Apocalypse - in order to process reality. The Razor’s Edge, “breaking down the fourth wall”
P ABLO P ICASSO ’ S G UERNICA ( NOTE FRAGMENTATION ) During the Fascist dictator Franco, dictator of Spain from 1939 to his death in 1975, Franco allowed Hitler to test his bombs by dropping them on Guernica, a Spanish town. This was the first manifestation of modern warfare.