The Revolutionary Ideas of Oscar Wilde


  • James Granell


Oscar Wilde’s reputation as a socialist often takes second place to his reputation as a playwright, poet, dandy and notorious wit. However, in 1891, the Dublin born writer, and arch-satirist of Victorian sensibilities, set out his ideas of socialism in his essay The Soul of Man Under Socialism. The essay affords the reader a glimpse into the political mind of this often caricatured Irish artist. As an aesthete and supreme individualist Wilde had an overarching artistic understanding of socialism. He was, on the whole, less interested in economic theory and dialectics than he was in the potential for individual realisation and the inherent beauty that underlies socialist philosophy. Wilde was concerned with the way in which the institution of private property obstructs the free development of the personality.