For someone that was jailed for homosexual activities and led a bacchanalian lifestyle, this is extraordinary.
Oscar's well-publicised witticisms sometimes displayed a carefree slovenly attitude that would have greatly upset society's religious and moral guardians. For example,
"Work is the curse of the drinking classes"
"Morality is simply an attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike"
"Some people say there is a God: others say there is no God. The truth probably lies somewhere in between."
Yet I believe that these sayings were said 'tongue in cheek' and represented a witty send up of the stated values of Victorian Britain.
For there is a intrinsic sense of goodness and an inherent moral message in many of his most important writings that I have enjoyed and have even inspired me. This is particularly true of Oscar's wonderful children's stories such as 'The Nightingale & the Rose'. But it is there also in his adult writings such as 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'.
Oscar was one of the greatest writers ever to come out of Ireland, who oftentimes portrayed a perceptive and critical attitude towards the Imperial establishment of Victorian Britain that would have warmed the heart of many an Irish republican. Yes, he enjoyed the luxuries and follies of the London rich elite. But his stories and sayings more often than not portrayed a man with a strong humanitarian streak and an awareness of the injustices permeating society.
He also had a fascination with the Catholic Church which would have been judged reprenhensible by the 19th century British elite.