Wilde, like fellow Irishman and friend Yeats, was a brilliant oral storyteller, a temporally displaced bard. When he fell from grace during scandal in later life, he earned many a meal-and arranged many a loan—after ensuring an after dinner audiences affection with a good tale. It is largely from this practice that he initially achieved notoriety, and from jotting down the essence of his speech that he made his living- for Wilde, who often found the act of writing disagreeable (yet never the act of talking) believed that writing was a necessary way of venting immense intellectual energy, but for him not an end in itself. Given that he identified himself always as a speaker-first as a bard and then, as he grew older, as Platonic guru to young Oxfordonians- it is unsurprising that he made a drama of his life. Often, as Philippe Jullian reports, he knew that his greatest role was that of “the artist triumphing over the brute,” (Oscar Wilde, p.318), and in this sense certainly his literature, rather than being his definitive artistic statement, became a backdrop for his real art-life.
As the painter is drawn to warm and cool tints, Wilde was fascinated by the
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