”’I am but too conscious of the fact that we are born in an age when only the dull are taken seriously, and I live in terror of not being misunderstood’, declared Oscar Wilde. He has indeed been misunderstood and dismissed as a mere coiner of flippancies. But wit need not always be trivial. Wilde uses wit as a weapon to attack hypocrisy, cant, conventional attitudes and ideas. His writings demonstrate the importance of not being earnest, even though his aims are far from being frivolous. This volume incorporates much of the best of Wilde’s writing: ’The Critic as Artist’, which examines the nature of art and criticism; his only novel, ’The Picture of Dorian Gray’, an honest diagnosis of decadence; ’The Soul of Man Under Socialism’, which deals with artistic freedom and the problems of poverty, authority and sympathy; his two best comedies, ’Lady Windermere’s Fan’ and ’The Importance of Being Earnest’; ’The Ballad of Reading Gaol’. Recently added are two poems, ’The Harlot’s House’ and ’The Sphinx’, two prose poems, ’The Artist and the House of Judgment’, and ’A Few Maxims for the Instruction of the Over-Educated.’ A chronology is also provided.”
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