The Coldwell Banker Elite Lecture
Oscar Wilde (born in Dublin, Ireland, as Oscar Fingal O’Flaherty Wills Wilde) crafted the character of “Oscar Wilde” as carefully and deliberately as a painter at his canvas, or a sculptor at his marble. His very identity was an elaborate work of artifice. His conviction and imprisonment for “gross indecency” in 1895 exploded the well-known public persona, or so it seemed. But although it took a heavy toll, prison did not prevent Wilde from treating life as if it were the raw material of art. Both in jail and afterwards, he recreated himself many times; and upon his release he lived with intensity and passion, as though determined to prove to posterity that – to paraphrase his own words -- if he had put merely his talent into his works, he had put all his genius into his life. In Wilde’s boundless capacity for self-invention and reinvention, we witness life itself transformed into a work of art.
Speaker: Nicholas Frankel
Nicholas Frankel, Professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University, is the author or editor of many books about Oscar Wilde, including most recently Oscar Wilde: The Unrepentant Years (Harvard University Press, 2017) and The Annotated Prison Writings of Oscar Wilde (Harvard University Press, 2018), described by the Irish Times as “a welcome gathering of Wilde’s most humane work.” Professor Frankel’s The Picture of Dorian Gray: An Annotated Uncensored Edition (Harvard University Press, 2011) was named an Honor Book in two categories at the 2012 Stonewall Books Awards by the American Library Association. He is the recipient of fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Humanities Center, the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, the Bibliographical Society of America, and the Yale Center for British Art, as well as the Elske v. P. Smith Distinguished Lectureship at Virginia Commonwealth University.