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Oscar Wilde

Influence on World Literature
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Wilde's artistic is based on the vast power of thought and the thinking subject. Living in a time in which art and other intellectual activities held up a passive mirror to nature and life, Wilde strongly fought to oppose that view. He believed that the decisive role in life was played by the creative personality. Thus, his unique writing style has influenced much of world literature. In his essay, The Soul of Man Under Socialism, Wilde, scorned the social ills produced by capitalism. Of the reformers he said, "their remedies do not cure the disease: they merely prolong it.... The proper aim is to try and reconstruct society on such a basis that poverty will be impossible."

Moreover, Wilde continues to remind us that there is a visionary component to socialist consciousness when he writes, "A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at." Wilde expressed many truths which, due to his class background took the form of paradoxical quips, but which in reality pointed toward critical intellectual issues of the twentieth century. They could only make themselves known to those that were ready to transform society.

Wilde insisted that life had to be remade along aesthetic lines. "Now Art should never try to be popular," he wrote. "The public should try to make itself artistic." The modern world trusted "to Socialism and to Science as its methods" to do away "with poverty, and the suffering that it entails," that when man had accomplished this task, "he will be saner, healthier, more civilized, more himself." A century later his thought retains its full validity.

Jessica Leu
Coral Gabes Senior High
12th grade IB