De Profundis by Oscar Wilde. De Profundis Suffering is one very long moment . We cannot divide it by seasons. We can only record its moods, and chronicle. Project Gutenberg · 59, free ebooks · 65 by Oscar Wilde. De Profundis by Oscar Wilde. No cover available. Download; Bibrec. De Profundis (Latin: "from the depths") is a letter written by Oscar Wilde Wilde wrote the letter between January and March , close to the.
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Free PDF, epub, site ebook. This is a letter written by Oscar Wilde during his imprisonment in Reading Gaol, to Lord Alfred Douglas. During its first half Wilde. Note that later editions of De Profundis contained more material. De Profundis was written by Oscar Wilde during his imprisonment in Reading. De profundis by Oscar Wilde; 72 editions; First published in ; Subjects: Correspondence, In Library, Accessible book, English literature.
What one had felt dimly, through instinct, about art, is intellectually and emotionally realised with perfect clearness of vision and absolute intensity of apprehension. I now see that sorrow, being the supreme emotion of which man is capable, is at once the type and test of all great art.
What the artist is always looking for is the mode of existence in which soul and body are one and indivisible: Of such modes of existence there are not a few: Music, in which all subject is absorbed in expression and cannot be separated from it, is a complex example, and a flower or a child a simple example, of what I mean; but sorrow is the ultimate type both in life and art.
Behind joy and laughter there may be a temperament, coarse, hard and callous. But behind sorrow there is always sorrow. Pain, unlike pleasure, wears no mask. Truth in art is not any correspondence between the essential idea and the accidental existence; it is not the resemblance of shape to shadow, or of the form mirrored in the crystal to the form itself; it is no echo coming from a hollow hill, any more than it is a silver well of water in the valley that shows the moon to the moon and Narcissus to Narcissus.
Truth in art is the unity of a thing with itself: For this reason there is no truth comparable to sorrow. There are times when sorrow seems to me to be the only truth. Other things may be illusions of the eye or the appetite, made to blind the one and cloy the other, but out of sorrow have the worlds been built, and at the birth of a child or a star there is pain. More than this, there is about sorrow an intense, an extraordinary reality.
I have said of myself that I was one who stood in symbolic relations to the art and culture of my age. There is not a single wretched man in this wretched place along with me who does not stand in symbolic relation to the very secret of life. For the secret of life is suffering. It is what is hidden behind everything. I remember talking once on this subject to one of the most beautiful personalities I have ever known: On the occasion of which I am thinking I recall distinctly how I said to her that there was enough suffering in one narrow London lane to show that God did not love man, and that wherever there was any sorrow, though but that of a child, in some little garden weeping over a fault that it had or had not committed, the whole face of creation was completely marred.
I was entirely wrong. She told me so, but I could not believe her. I was not in the sphere in which such belief was to be attained to. Now it seems to me that love of some kind is the only possible explanation of the extraordinary amount of suffering that there is in the world. I cannot conceive of any other explanation.
I am convinced that there is no other, and that if the world has indeed, as I have said, been built of sorrow, it has been built by the hands of love, because in no other way could the soul of man, for whom the world was made, reach the full stature of its perfection.
Pleasure for the beautiful body, but pain for the beautiful soul. When I say that I am convinced of these things I speak with too much pride. Far off, like a perfect pearl, one can see the city of God.
And so a child could. But with me and such as me it is different. One can realise a thing in a single moment, but one loses it in the long hours that follow with leaden feet.
And, though at present my friends may find it a hard thing to believe, it is true none the less, that for them living in freedom and idleness and comfort it is more easy to learn the lessons of humility than it is for me, who begin the day by going down on my knees and washing the floor of my cell. For prison life with its endless privations and restrictions makes one rebellious.
One sometimes feels that it is only with a front of brass and a lip of scorn that one can get through the day at all. And he who is in a state of rebellion cannot receive grace, to use the phrase of which the Church is so fond — so rightly fond, I dare say — for in life as in art the mood of rebellion closes up the channels of the soul, and shuts out the airs of heaven.
This New Life, as through my love of Dante I like sometimes to call it, is of course no new life at all, but simply the continuance, by means of development, and evolution, of my former life. And so, indeed, I went out, and so I lived. My only mistake was that I confined myself so exclusively to the trees of what seemed to me the sun-lit side of the garden, and shunned the other side for its shadow and its gloom. Failure, disgrace, poverty, sorrow, despair, suffering, tears even, the broken words that come from lips in pain, remorse that makes one walk on thorns, conscience that condemns, self-abasement that punishes, the misery that puts ashes on its head, the anguish that chooses sack-cloth for its raiment and into its own drink puts gall: And as I had determined to know nothing of them, I was forced to taste each of them in turn, to feed on them, to have for a season, indeed, no other food at all.
I did it to the full, as one should do everything that one does. There was no pleasure I did not experience. I threw the pearl of my soul into a cup of wine. I went down the primrose path to the sound of flutes. I lived on honeycomb. But to have continued the same life would have been wrong because it would have been limiting. I had to pass on. The other half of the garden had its secrets for me also. Of course all this is foreshadowed and prefigured in my books.
It could not have been otherwise. Art is a symbol, because man is a symbol. It is, if I can fully attain to it, the ultimate realisation of the artistic life. For the artistic life is simply self-development. Humility in the artist is his frank acceptance of all experiences, just as love in the artist is simply the sense of beauty that reveals to the world its body and its soul.
In Marius the Epicurean Pater seeks to reconcile the artistic life with the life of religion, in the deep, sweet, and austere sense of the word. But Marius is little more than a spectator: I see a far more intimate and immediate connection between the true life of Christ and the true life of the artist; and I take a keen pleasure in the reflection that long before sorrow had made my days her own and bound me to her wheel I had written in The Soul of Man that he who would lead a Christ-like life must be entirely and absolutely himself, and had taken as my types not merely the shepherd on the hillside and the prisoner in his cell, but also the painter to whom the world is a pageant and the poet for whom the world is a song.
Nor is it merely that we can discern in Christ that close union of personality with perfection which forms the real distinction between the classical and romantic movement in life, but the very basis of his nature was the same as that of the nature of the artist — an intense and flamelike imagination.
He realised in the entire sphere of human relations that imaginative sympathy which in the sphere of Art is the sole secret of creation. He understood the leprosy of the leper, the darkness of the blind, the fierce misery of those who live for pleasure, the strange poverty of the rich. His whole conception of Humanity sprang right out of the imagination and can only be realised by it. What God was to the pantheist, man was to Him. He was the first to conceive the divided races as a unity.
Before his time there had been gods and men, and, feeling through the mysticism of sympathy that in himself each had been made incarnate, he calls himself the Son of the one or the Son of the other, according to his mood. More than any one else in history he wakes in us that temper of wonder to which romance always appeals.
There is still something to me almost incredible in the idea of a young Galilean peasant imagining that he could bear on his own shoulders the burden of the entire world; all that had already been done and suffered, and all that was yet to be done and suffered: I had said of Christ that he ranks with the poets. That is true. Shelley and Sophocles are of his company. But his entire life also is the most wonderful of poems. When one contemplates all this from the point of view of art alone one cannot but be grateful that the supreme office of the Church should be the playing of the tragedy without the shedding of blood: Yet the whole life of Christ — so entirely may sorrow and beauty be made one in their meaning and manifestation — is really an idyll, though it ends with the veil of the temple being rent, and the darkness coming over the face of the earth, and the stone rolled to the door of the sepulchre.
One always thinks of him as a young bridegroom with his companions, as indeed he somewhere describes himself; as a shepherd straying through a valley with his sheep in search of green meadow or cool stream; as a singer trying to build out of the music the walls of the City of God; or as a lover for whose love the whole world was too small.
His miracles seem to me to be as exquisite as the coming of spring, and quite as natural. Renan in his Vie de Jesus — that gracious fifth gospel, the gospel according to St. And certainly, if his place is among the poets, he is the leader of all the lovers. He saw that love was the first secret of the world for which the wise men had been looking, and that it was only through love that one could approach either the heart of the leper or the feet of God.
And above all, Christ is the most supreme of individualists. Humility, like the artistic, acceptance of all experiences, is merely a mode of manifestation. He compares it to little things, to a tiny seed, to a handful of leaven, to a pearl. I bore up against everything with some stubbornness of will and much rebellion of nature, till I had absolutely nothing left in the world but one thing.
I had lost my name, my position, my happiness, my freedom, my wealth. I was a prisoner and a pauper. But I still had my children left. Suddenly they were taken away from me by the law. I am not worthy of either. I saw then that the only thing for me was to accept everything. Since then — curious as it will no doubt sound — I have been happier. It was of course my soul in its ultimate essence that I had reached. In many ways I had been its enemy, but I found it waiting for me as a friend.
When one comes in contact with the soul it makes one simple as a child, as Christ said one should be. Most people are other people. Christ was not merely the supreme individualist, but he was the first individualist in history.
People have tried to make him out an ordinary philanthropist, or ranked him as an altruist with the scientific and sentimental. But he was really neither one nor the other. Riches and pleasure seemed to him to be really greater tragedies than poverty or sorrow. And as for altruism, who knew better than he that it is vocation not volition that determines us, and that one cannot gather grapes of thorns or figs from thistles? To live for others as a definite self-conscious aim was not his creed.
It was not the basis of his creed. In his view of life he is one with the artist who knows that by the inevitable law of self-perfection, the poet must sing, and the sculptor think in bronze, and the painter make the world a mirror for his moods, as surely and as certainly as the hawthorn must blossom in spring, and the corn turn to gold at harvest-time, and the moon in her ordered wanderings change from shield to sickle, and from sickle to shield.
By this means he gave to man an extended, a Titan personality. Since his coming the history of each separate individual is, or can be made, the history of the world.
Of course, culture has intensified the personality of man. Art has made us myriad-minded. But the sympathy of the artistic temperament is necessarily with what has found expression.
To the artist, expression is the only mode under which he can conceive life at all. To him what is dumb is dead. But to Christ it was not so. With a width and wonder of imagination that fills one almost with awe, he took the entire world of the inarticulate, the voiceless world of pain, as his kingdom, and made of himself its eternal mouthpiece. He sought to become eyes to the blind, ears to the deaf, and a cry in the lips of those whose tongues had been tied.
His desire was to be to the myriads who had found no utterance a very trumpet through which they might call to heaven. And feeling, with the artistic nature of one to whom suffering and sorrow were modes through which he could realise his conception of the beautiful, that an idea is of no value till it becomes incarnate and is made an image, he made of himself the image of the Man of Sorrows, and as such has fascinated and dominated art as no Greek god ever succeeded in doing.
For the Greek gods, in spite of the white and red of their fair fleet limbs, were not really what they appeared to be. The two most deeply suggestive figures of Greek Mythology were, for religion, Demeter, an Earth Goddess, not one of the Olympians, and for art, Dionysus, the son of a mortal woman to whom the moment of his birth had proved also the moment of her death.
But Life itself from its lowliest and most humble sphere produced one far more marvellous than the mother of Proserpina or the son of Semele. We must not be afraid of such a phrase. Every single work of art is the fulfilment of a prophecy: Every single human being should be the fulfilment of a prophecy: Christ found the type and fixed it, and the dream of a Virgilian poet, either at Jerusalem or at Babylon, became in the long progress of the centuries incarnate in him for whom the world was waiting.
But wherever there is a romantic movement in art there somehow, and under some form, is Christ, or the soul of Christ. We owe to him the most diverse things and people.
The strange figures of poetic drama and ballad are made by the imagination of others, but out of his own imagination entirely did Jesus of Nazareth create himself. The cry of Isaiah had really no more to do with his coming than the song of the nightingale has to do with the rising of the moon — no more, though perhaps no less.
He was the denial as well as the affirmation of prophecy. For every expectation that he fulfilled there was another that he destroyed. He has all the colour elements of life: He appeals to the temper of wonder, and creates that mood in which alone he can be understood.
I said in Dorian Gray that the great sins of the world take place in the brain: We know now that we do not see with the eyes or hear with the ears. They are really channels for the transmission, adequate or inadequate, of sense impressions. It is in the brain that the poppy is red, that the apple is odorous, that the skylark sings. Of late I have been studying with diligence the four prose poems about Christ. At Christmas I managed to get hold of a Greek Testament, and every morning, after I had cleaned my cell and polished my tins, I read a little of the Gospels, a dozen verses taken by chance anywhere.
It is a delightful way of opening the day. Every one, even in a turbulent, ill-disciplined life, should do the same. We hear them read far too often and far too badly, and all repetition is anti-spiritual. When one returns to the Greek; it is like going into a garden of lilies out of some, narrow and dark house. And to me, the pleasure is doubled by the reflection that it is extremely probable that we have the actual terms, the ipsissima verba , used by Christ. It was always supposed that Christ talked in Aramaic.
Even Renan thought so. But now we know that the Galilean peasants, like the Irish peasants of our own day, were bilingual, and that Greek was the ordinary language of intercourse all over Palestine, as indeed all over the Eastern world. It is a delight to me to think that as far as his conversation was concerned, Charmides might have listened to him, and Socrates reasoned with him, and Plato understood him: John tells us it was: While in reading the Gospels — particularly that of St.
John himself, or whatever early Gnostic took his name and mantle — I see the continual assertion of the imagination as the basis of all spiritual and material life, I see also that to Christ imagination was simply a form of love, and that to him love was lord in the fullest meaning of the phrase. Some six weeks ago I was allowed by the doctor to have white bread to eat instead of the coarse black or brown bread of ordinary prison fare.
It is a great delicacy.
It will sound strange that dry bread could possibly be a delicacy to any one. So one should look on love. Christ, like all fascinating personalities, had the power of not merely saying beautiful things himself, but of making other people say beautiful things to him; and I love the story St.
Most people live for love and admiration. But it is by love and admiration that we should live. If any love is shown us we should recognise that we are quite unworthy of it.
Nobody is worthy to be loved. The fact that God loves man shows us that in the divine order of ideal things it is written that eternal love is to be given to what is eternally unworthy. Or if that phrase seems to be a bitter one to bear, let us say that every one is worthy of love, except him who thinks that he is. Love is a sacrament that should be taken kneeling, and Domine, non sum dignus should be on the lips and in the hearts of those who receive it.
If ever I write again, in the sense of producing artistic work, there are just two subjects on which and through which I desire to express myself: He took children as the type of what people should try to become.
He held them up as examples to their elders, which I myself have always thought the chief use of children, if what is perfect should have a use.
He felt that life was changeful, fluid, active, and that to allow it to be stereotyped into any form was death. He saw that people should not be too serious over material, common interests: It is full of Greek feeling. But only Christ could have said both, and so summed up life perfectly for us. His morality is all sympathy, just what morality should be. His justice is all poetical justice, exactly what justice should be. The beggar goes to heaven because he has been unhappy. I cannot conceive a better reason for his being sent there.
The people who work for an hour in the vineyard in the cool of the evening receive just as much reward as those who have toiled there all day long in the hot sun. Probably no one deserved anything. Or perhaps they were a different kind of people.
Christ had no patience with the dull lifeless mechanical systems that treat people as if they were things, and so treat everybody alike: That which is the very keynote of romantic art was to him the proper basis of natural life.
He saw no other basis. Like all poetical natures he loved ignorant people. He knew that in the soul of one who is ignorant there is always room for a great idea. But he could not stand stupid people, especially those who are made stupid by education: His chief war was against the Philistines. That is the war every child of light has to wage. Philistinism was the note of the age and community in which he lived.
He treated worldly success as a thing absolutely to be despised. He saw nothing in it at all.
He looked on wealth as an encumbrance to a man. He would not hear of life being sacrificed to any system of thought or morals. He pointed out that forms and ceremonies were made for man, not man for forms and ceremonies. He took sabbatarianism as a type of the things that should be set at nought. The cold philanthropies, the ostentatious public charities, the tedious formalisms so dear to the middle-class mind, he exposed with utter and relentless scorn.
To us, what is termed orthodoxy is merely a facile unintelligent acquiescence; but to them, and in their hands, it was a terrible and paralysing tyranny. Christ swept it aside. He showed that the spirit alone was of value.
He took a keen pleasure in pointing out to them that though they were always reading the law and the prophets, they had not really the smallest idea of what either of them meant. In opposition to their tithing of each separate day into the fixed routine of prescribed duties, as they tithe mint and rue, he preached the enormous importance of living completely for the moment.
Those whom he saved from their sins are saved simply for beautiful moments in their lives. He sees all the lovely influences of life as modes of light: The world is made by it, and yet the world cannot understand it: But it is when he deals with a sinner that Christ is most romantic, in the sense of most real. The world had always loved the saint as being the nearest possible approach to the perfection of God. Christ, through some divine instinct in him, seems to have always loved the sinner as being the nearest possible approach to the perfection of man.
His primary desire was not to reform people, any more than his primary desire was to a relieve suffering. To turn an interesting thief into a tedious honest man was not his aim. The conversion of a publican into a Pharisee would not have seemed to him a great achievement. But in a manner not yet understood of the world he regarded sin and suffering as being in themselves beautiful holy things and modes of perfection. It seems a very dangerous idea.
It is — all great ideas are dangerous. Of course the sinner must repent. But why? Simply because otherwise he would be unable to realise what he had done.
The moment of repentance is the moment of initiation. More than that: The Greeks thought that impossible. Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up.
Oscar Wilde. De profundis: Pau Gilabert. Wilde3 who in The Critic as Artist, wrote: We verify, however, that since his estimation is held in carcere et vinculis, i. That is true. Shelley and Sophocles are of his company.
But his entire life also is the most wonderful of poems. For 'pity and terror' there is nothing in the entire cycle of Greek tragedy to touch it. The absolute purity of the protagonist raises the entire scheme to a height of romantic art from which the sufferings of Thebes and Pelops' line are by their very horror excluded, and shows how wrong Aristotle was when he said in his treatise on the drama that it would be impossible to bear the spectacle of one blameless in pain.
It goes without saying that, being a prisoner, it is not the famous and audacious creator of paradoxes who is writing now, but, on the other hand, only by means of paradox and anachronism can he bring together modernity and mediaevalism, and even tragedy and romanticism.
Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes , Barcelona. De Profundis and Other Writings. Penguin Classics, Cap XIII, 2: Hamilton Fyfe, Loeb Classical Library. William Heinemann Ltd. Harvard University Press, What prevents Sophocles from being put on the same level with Christ or, in other words, what exalts Christ towards an artistically superior category?
His whole conception of humanity sprang right out of the imagination and can only be realised by it. What God was to the pantheist, man was to him.
He was the first to conceive the divided races as a unity. Not at all. The artist not only grasps the everlasting Idea, taking it as the form in order to model the bare and shapeless matter9, but he also surpasses the very same Idea, so that he creates and incarnates it in fact. VI, The Decay of Lying. But I should underline now that, once again in the case of O.
Indeed, the fictitious protagonists of his tragedies —he himself remains excluded, of course-, leaving aside that they inherit a congenital impurity, are implicitly accused because of their true incapacity to incarnate real suffering, and thus to become a valid reference as having been certainly lived and represented. But Sophocles did create all of these and, although they are not the result of his sole imagination, they were presented by him as an artistic and beautiful image which, once it is contemplated, effects in its turn the purification of similar passions.
Human suffering becomes incarnate and is made an image in them, i. He was Wilde's literary executor and oversaw the publication of De Profundis. The manuscript comprised eighty close-written pages on twenty folio sheets of thin blue prison paper.
Ross was instructed to make two typed copies, one for Wilde himself, and to send the original to Lord Alfred. However, fearing that Douglas would destroy the original, Ross sent him a copy instead Douglas said at the Ransome libel trial that he burnt the copy he was sent without reading it.
The book appeared on 11 February and hence preceded the English edition by Ross by about two weeks. Ross published the letter with the title "De Profundis", expurgating all references to the Queensberry family. This edition would go through eight printings in the next three years, including de luxe editions. In , when Lord Alfred served six months in prison for libel against Winston Churchill , he wrote a sonnet sequence entitled In Excelsis "from the heights" , intentionally mirroring Wilde's letter.
Also included were three other letters Wilde wrote from Reading Prison and his two letters to the editor of the Daily Chronicle written after his release. The manuscript is now in the British Library. In Arthur Ransome had published Oscar Wilde: a critical study.
Douglas sued Ransome for libel, and the case went to the High Court in April While the full text "was so inconsistent as to be quite unreliable as evidence of anything except Wilde's fluctuating state of mind while in prison He later said that he had never received the package at all.
Once during the reading he simply disappeared, and was roundly rebuked by the judge. It contained about half of the complete text. Ross's typescripts had contained several hundred errors, including typist's mistakes, his own emendations, and other omissions. He wrote that: In July Ruth and I had the excitement of being the first people to see the original manuscript of Oscar's longest, best, and most important letter De Profundis, which had been given to the British Museum by Robbie Ross with a fifty-year ban on anyone's seeing it, so as to make sure Lord Alfred Douglas never saw it.
To our delight, we found that the published versions were wildly inaccurate, so our version in The Letters was the first accurate text in print. The British Library formerly British Museum published a facsimile of the original manuscript in In this volume, entitled De Profundis; 'Epistola: In Carcere et Vinculis', editor Ian Small tried "to establish an authoritative and perhaps definitive text" of Wilde's prison letter.
The volume also aimed to "present the complete textual history of one of the most famous love letters ever written".
Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis – one of the greatest love letters ever written
There has been some reordering and the omission of words, here included in square brackets". Based on his findings, Schroeder argues that, due to the large amount of typing errors and unauthorised changes, no previously published typescript of the text including the Holland edition is suitable as a base text and that only the British Museum manuscript i. The text has been in the public domain in the United Kingdom since 1 January rule : published before the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act ; publication date  plus 50 years after the end of the year.
The text has been in the public domain in the Republic of Ireland since 1 January Section 8 5 a i of the Copyright Act,  publication date  plus 50 years after the end of the year. The text will be in copyright in Australia until 1 January rule: published after , therefore publication date  plus 70 years  after the end of the year.
The text will be in copyright in the United States until rule: published with notice between and , and the copyright was renewed [in by the Estate of Oscar Wilde  ], therefore 95 years after the publication date [of ] . The text has been in the public domain in Germany since 1 January rule: the copyright had expired upon publication in [rule: 50 years after the death of the author], no "posthumous works" rule existed in ; 10 years copyright for edited work from publication date  according to Section 70 German Copyright Act of .The calendar of my daily conduct and labour that hangs on the outside of my cell door, with my name and sentence written upon it, tells me that it is May.
That is not such a tragic thing as possibly it sounds to you.
Reason was similarly lacking: Wilde felt that the law had convicted him unjustly. There is not a single wretched man in this wretched place along with me who does not stand in symbolic relation to the very secret of life. I know that would be equally fatal.
I filled my life to the very brim with pleasure, as one might fill a cup to the very brim with wine. Putnam's sons in English. But while I see that there is nothing wrong in what one does, I see that there is something wrong in what one becomes.