Friday, 5 January 2007

Wilde and the Church

The Australian has a rather interesting story about a new book of Oscar Wilde's 'wit', which has been put together by the Vatican's head of protocol, Father Leonardo Sapienza. Well ladies and gentleman, do you have any ideas on what's going on? I don't. Most people are aware that Wilde was more than competent at delivering sharp comments, yet he did not seem to set such a high value on his witticisms. In A Handful of Authors, G. K. Chesterton pointed out that Wilde "was a charlatan. I mean by a charlatan one sufficiently dignified to despise the tricks that he employs". Many people are also aware of Wilde's sexual relations with other men, and his subsequent prison sentence, but how many know of his relationship with the Catholic Church? Wilde was not received into the Church until he was on his deathbed, but he had admired Catholicism for many years, and was nearly converted at an earlier age at Brompton Oratory. Yet inspite of his affairs and delayed conversion, we should remember Chesterton's observation that "He desired all beautiful things - even God".

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