The Beauty of Idleness: exploring the university days of Oscar Wilde
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Too often any intelligence is bought with the acquisition of excessive conceit or a boring solemnity. Rarely does it inflame the personality to burn with wit and levity, acting as a bellows to the spark of character. Oscar Wilde in his time in University managed to not only retain this flame, but let it burgeon. Discarding that which was useful, he instead devoted himself to what was beautiful. Throughout his time he ignored professors' advice, arrived late to a start of term, was caught 'about the streets all evening', and took up a serious hobby of smoking: in short he was an exemplary student.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia CommonsWilde's time at university was a time of internal tension. Torn between various tendencies, it manifested itself in a struggle between his intended conversion to Catholicism and his love for the Hellenic spirit. This conflict was personified by two tutors he respected—Prater and Ruskin—, localized in his visits to Greece and Rome, and eventually quelled by an embracing of such internal conflict. As Richard Ellmann concludes about Wilde's university days in his biography, Wilde had learnt to ignore the simplicity of dogma, and in doing so became a dramatist. Finally graduating with a puff of smoke in the face of life, Wilde's time at university cannot be confined to his fretful thoughts.
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