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Oscar Wilde and Aestheticism

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  1. Introduction
  2. The aesthetic movement
    1. Definition
    2. Historical background
    3. The changes in art
  3. A pioneer: Immanuel Kant
    1. Biography
    2. The 'beautiful', an object of a disinterested satisfaction
    3. The 'beautiful', a 'form of finality'
  4. An important figure: Oscar Wilde
    1. Biography
    2. His theory
    3. His only novel, reflection of his theory
  5. Bibliography

The 19th Century in Europe, and especially in England, is marked by the appearances of new artistic movements. Aestheticism is one the most important because it embodies a real change in the mentality and in art, considered as self sufficient. Immanuel Kant is one of the pioneers of it, and certainly the most important. But aestheticism is most of all represented by the great Irish writer: Oscar Wilde.

[...] In fact, the value of a masterpiece is determined by feelings and not by demonstration with reason. The ?beautiful? has to be ?subjective universal? judgements. III] An important figure: Oscar Wilde Oscar Wilde was born on October in Dublin to unconventional parents - his mother Lady Jane Francesca Wilde (1820-96), was a poet and journalist. His father was Sir William Wilde, an Irish antiquarian, gifted writer, and specialist in diseases of the eye and ear. In 1878 he received his B.A. [...]

[...] In 1884 he married Constance Lloyd (died 1898), and to support his family Wilde edited in 1887-89 Woman's World. Wilde's marriage ended in 1893. He had met a few years earlier Lord Alfred Douglas, an athlete and a poet, who became both the love of the author's life and his downfall because his intimate association led to his trial on charges of homosexuality (then illegal in Britain): he was sentenced to two years hard labour for the crime of sodomy. [...]

[...] 1880's who believed that Art and literature had value in themselves rather than needing any moral purpose: actually, aestheticism is the cult of sensibility. They studied the principles of beauty and especially in Art and consider it at self-sufficient: they think that it can not serve to another purpose than being a simple representation of life, without any particular aim. In fact, artistic works can not be the result of propaganda, or of a political idea, or a moral lesson: it can not be useful. [...]

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