A Lecture On Chatterton, Oscar Wilde 's Career

738 Words Dec 2nd, 2014 3 Pages
At the time he delivered his lecture on Chatterton, Oscar Wilde’s career was transforming. He was transitioning from the performances he had honed during four solid years of addressing countless audiences and was developing, with greater energy than ever before, his profile as an accomplished author, critic, and editor. His discovery of Chatterton stands at the center of these changes.
Paying close attention to Chatterton enabled Wilde to understand that the astonishing inventiveness of the Rowley forgeries evinced the imaginative impulse that inspired the finest forms of imaginative literature. Exploiting the links between imagination, authenticity, and truth, Chatterton’s artistic originality arose in fabrications that conjured a literary past that historically never existed. Such fakes, Wilde knew from his reading about Chatterton, might strike some interpreters as the result of ungovernable, if not immoral, impulses.
In the critical essays and shorter fiction that Wilde wrote from the mid-1880s onward, he radically inverted such interpretations. Throughout these essays, shorter fiction, and dramas, generous artistic license, lying, and even criminal intent become—as we explain in later chapters—the foundation for great art.
Understanding Chatterton’s artistry not only informed Wilde’s creative work; it also shaped his knowledge of the Romantic poets, whose works he had long admired. If Wilde’s interest in Keats and Shelley stemmed from his university days, through…
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