Oscar Wilde, De Profundis

Cherrie Kwok (University of Virginia)
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Oscar Wilde’s 

De Profundis

– written when he was imprisoned in Reading Gaol from 1895 to 1897 and published after his death in 1900 – is not only his last piece of prose, but also the piece that most readily evades easy categorization and summary. Often referred to as a prison letter, a queer love letter, a spiritual autobiography, or a piece of aesthetic philosophy, the multifarious associations that readers and critics in Wilde’s time – and in ours – have attached to this work are in large part owing to its knotty publication history (see Guy, 2012, and Small, 2016, for more on the different genres with which 

De Profundis 

engages).

De Profundis actually has two different titles and (depending on whom one asks) roughly three different publication dates. Wilde had

2787 words

Citation: Kwok, Cherrie. "De Profundis". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 15 March 2023 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=5713, accessed 15 April 2024.]

5713 De Profundis 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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