Thursday, July 31st, 2014
Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr / Podcast

1897 / Reading

Notorious

Tags:
,
,
,
,

wilde.jpgThe fact of my having been the common prisoner of a common jail I must frankly accept, and curious as it may seem, one of the things I shall have to teach myself is not to be ashamed of it.

Of course I know that from one point of view, things will be made different for me than for others—must indeed, by the very nature of the case, be made so. The poor thieves and outcasts who are imprisoned here with me are in many respects more fortunate than I am. The little way in gray city or green field that saw their sin is small—to find those who know nothing of what they have done they need go no farther than a bird might fly between the twilight at dawn and dawn itself—but for me the world is shriveled to a handsbreadth, and everywhere I turn my name is written on the rocks in lead. For I have come, not from obscurity into the momentary notoriety of crime, but from a sort of eternity of fame to a sort of eternity of infamy, and sometimes seem to myself to have shown, if indeed it required showing, that between the famous and the infamous there is but one step, if as much as one.

Still, in the very fact that people will recognize me wherever I go, and know all about my life, as far as its follies go, I can discern something good for me. It will force on me the necessity of again asserting myself as an artist, and as soon as I possibly can. If I can produce only one beautiful work of art I shall be able to rob malice of its venom and cowardice of its sneer, and to pluck out the tongue of scorn by the roots.

Bookmark and Share
Love this? Subscribe to Lapham's Quarterly today.

Post a Comment

Note: Several minutes will pass while the system is processing and posting your comment. Do not resubmit during this time or your comment will post multiple times.

Published In
Celebrity
About the Author

Oscar Wilde, from De Profundis. After critics attacked The Picture of Dorian Gray for its perceived immorality, Wilde wrote a preface to the novel, stating, “There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.” In 1895 he was arrested for “gross indecency,” a charge implying homosexuality, and he was sentenced to two years’ hard labor at Reading Jail, where he began this work. He died in 1900 at the age of forty-six.

At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since.
Salvador Dalí, 1942
Visual Aids
Rites of Passage Coming-of-age rituals from around the world.
Art, Photography, & Illustrations View a selection of art from our latest issue.
Charts & Graphs All of our charts and graphs, pulled from the pages of Lapham’s Quarterly.
Events & News
June 2 / Tickets for the DECADES BALL are available now. Join us at our yearly gala to celebrate the 1870s with readings from the Quarterly with stars of stage and screen. More
Apropos

Vague Premonitions

The Great Beyond

Subscribe
Current Issue Youth Summer 2014
Blogs

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Audio & Video
LQ Podcast:
Tom Rachman
The author of the NY Times best-selling novel The Imperfectionists talks with Aidan Flax-Clark about his latest novel, The Rise and Fall of Great Powers.
Eponym
Lewis H. Lapham is Editor of Lapham's Quarterly. He also serves as editor emeritus and national correspondent for Harper's magazine.
Recent Issues