Talk:Oscar Wilde

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Good article Oscar Wilde has been listed as one of the Language and literature good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.

Infobox nationality and ethnicity[edit]

I recently altered the infobox to include the ethnicity parameter as declaring Oscar Wilde as being of Irish nationality is wrong as he was born in the United Kingdom and thus a British national. I added the ethnicity parameter to however highlight that he was of Irish ethnicity. As the lede can be assumed to state that he is of Irish ethnicity rather than nationality, i thought it wouldn't be controverisal

I was wrong it seems, and it appears there is a consensus (so i'm told) that he's of Irish nationality despite the fact thats impossible as there was never an Irish state for him to be a citizen/national of. Due to this ambiguity of the lede, i assumed there would be no harm in giving more clear and concise information in the infobox where we can state that he was both Irish AND British (something thats not impossible) thus satisfying both camps.

And yes i appreciate that he was an Irish nationalist, however did he actually abandon his British citizenship and adopt a different one for him to no longer actually be a British national? Mabuska (talk) 00:07, 28 June 2011 (UTC)

According to whom? His biographers agree he was Irish. Ireland was colonised at the time, it was still a country. Best, --Ktlynch (talk) 21:04, 28 June 2011 (UTC)
Try telling a Scotsman he's not Scottish and a Welshman he's not Welsh, and you'll get two lovely black eyes. Myrvin (talk) 20:03, 3 July 2011 (UTC)
Ireland was not an independant sovereign country with its own parliament when Oscar Wilde lived. From the start of the 19th century it was a region of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, just like England, Scotland, and Wales all of which were under one parliament and that makes him a British national by birth. WP:MOSBIO states we should state their nationality according to the nationality laws of their country, and well in the UK that is British regardless of the persons personal opinion or his biographers.
He is Irish in ethnicity as he was born in Ireland, but he can't be an Irish national or citizen as it didn't exist as a country on its own right in the sense that the Republic of Ireland exists today. Reason why i'm not challenging the use of "Irish" in the lede is because according to WP:MOSBIO you can state ethnicity in the lede if its relevant to the topic of the article, and whilst its not marked upon much in the article, Oscar Wilde was a passionate Irish nationalist, so it can be deemed relevant. This however doesn't override his actual nationality, which can be easily stated in the infobox, with Irish used where it actually applied to him in the real world of his time - the ethnicity part. Mabuska (talk) 00:21, 29 June 2011 (UTC)
I have made it clear in the infobox that he was British Nationality [as was case] and stated after Ireland in Place of Birth "United Kingdom" with a link to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland page. I left his ethnicity as Irish. Son of the Isles (talk) 21:05, 6 January 2013 (UTC)
Re: Try telling a Scotsman he's not Scottish and a Welshman he's not Welsh, and you'll get two lovely black eyes. … Yes but try telling the same Scottish or Welshman that's he's not British, and you'll get pretty much the same result, especially in the past before these nationalisms became political forces. Being both Welsh and British, is no stranger than being both Texan and American, more keenly felt perhaps as being 'distinct'. … … ps to the best of my knowledge, Wilde was not in any sense a 'nationalist'. Pincrete (talk) 19:55, 12 September 2015 (UTC)

Edit war[edit]

@81.170.31.87: Please stop edit warring. If you feel strongly about this point, make your case here. As has been pointed out to you repeatedly, the discussion has already taken place, but you can revive it if you wish. You are at 5RR already; any further reverts will trigger a report to the edit warring noticeboard (if it hasn't been reported already). Thanks. DoctorJoeE review transgressions/talk to me! 00:43, 1 September 2015 (UTC)

User:DoctorJoeE, I came across this post 'on my WP travels', but what exactly is the basis for the claim of Wilde being 'Irish', forgetting passports, I would have thought that he was classic 'Anglo-Irish', culturally, socially etc. Pincrete (talk) 20:52, 11 September 2015 (UTC)
As I'm sure you know, on WP it doesn't matter what any of us "would have thought"; what matters is what sources say -- and all of Wilde's biographers seem to agree that he was Irish. There is a relevant discussion above, under "nationality and ethnicity", and if memory serves, other discussions in the archives; consensus has consistently come down on the side of referring to him as Irish. Cheers, DoctorJoeE review transgressions/talk to me! 21:02, 11 September 2015 (UTC)
User:DoctorJoeE, a great deal of the above discussion relates to the different meanings of 'Irish' (citizenship, born on the island, cultural etc), it's being a bit disingenuous therefore to say 'most biographers say …', without knowing in what sense they used the word, or whether in context, they qualify their meaning (and without allowing for which meaning the reader will take). Wilde was unquestionably, born on the island, unquestionably a British citizen, and predominantly he identified with, sought to establish himself, within English culture. I'm not trying to 'own' Wilde, simply arguing for a more nuanced account of his provenance. I would argue just as strongly against him being described as 'British', unless it were clear that this referred to his citizenship. Pincrete (talk) 14:32, 12 September 2015 (UTC) … … ps I also notice that MOSBIO, states that the infobox should record 'citizenship', or country in which notability was gained, neither of these criteria would justify 'Irish'. 15:17, 12 September 2015 (UTC)Pincrete (talk)
The slow edit war on this seems to be continuing (not me), might I suggest that a more constructive approach than simply reverting would be for us to find an easily understood way of articulating what we all know to be true, namely that Wilde was a British citizen, born in Ireland. MOS WP:OPENPARA states for Context (location or nationality), In most modern-day cases this will mean the country of which the person is a citizen, national or permanent resident, or if notable mainly for past events, the country where the person was a citizen, national or permanent resident when the person became notable. So Wilde was a citizen of Ireland? A permanent resident there? Became notable there? I am really not interested in 'ownership' of Wilde, only that the reader be meaningfully informed, because 'Irish', is an inherently ambiguous, or misunderstood term term to many modern readers, which all biographers would clarify in some way. Pincrete (talk) 16:04, 20 September 2015 (UTC)

About Wilde and Ross...[edit]

Please, say what you think here: https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Talk:Q1391982 --Araujojoan96 (talk) 12:28, 12 November 2015 (UTC)

Today's criticism projected into the past[edit]

If there is going to be criticism using today's morality of ever person in history who went to a brothel - of men or women - then new sections will need to be added to virtually every article covering historical figures. The exploiter was the man who ran the brothel - Alfred Taylor. There is also evidence that Wilde was generous with gifts to those that he had sex with. The info added is one sentence and this has WP:UNDUE problems - especially as it was put in the lede. It also violates WP:MOSBEGIN. No context is given to what went on then nor to the difference between how this was regarded then in comparison to today. MarnetteD|Talk 00:02, 22 January 2016 (UTC)


'There is also evidence that Wilde was generous with gifts to those that he had sex with.' - this is an outrageous statement to make. If that is your point then include that as well, it doesn't mean it didn't happen. Why are you seeking to censor mention of what he did?Correctus2kX (talk) 00:11, 22 January 2016 (UTC)

Try reading the policies and guidelines linked to. MarnetteD|Talk 00:16, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
Yes, currently Cecil Rhodes' racism is under the moral indignation spotlight and possibly Wilde abuse of child prostitutes has also stirred some people up a little. Henry VIII murdered two of his wives and yet there is still a statue of him outside Barts Hospital. We can't rewrite history, but we do continually re-interpret it through our contemporary morality/ideology. Wilde is a hero for many because of his writings, do his other actions diminish that ? This is a very tricky subject, there is no such thing as objective morality, I think we can only state the facts. He used child prostitutes, some people today have condemned him for it. Unibond (talk) 16:33, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
I wholly concur with Unibond's attitude, somewhere between imposing our own values on history and simply shrugging our shoulders (things were different then!) lies, well if not wisdom, at least moral conundrums. It is no stranger to record that SOME modern people have condemned him for using young prostitutes than it is to record that SOME OTHER modern people look upon him as an iconic hero who suffered for expressing 'the love that dare not speak its name'. Both attitudes are more of our time than of his. Pincrete (talk) 21:24, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
Unibond This edit was not vandalism and should not have been reverted as such. The IP made quite clear what their objection was and why they were removing the section. An examination of the sources backs up the IPs objections. The first source makes no criticism of Wilde's actions whatsoever. It simply reports what was discovered in papers that had not been examined until in 2000. The second is about a play based on those papers. Again there is no direct criticism of "Wilde's exploitation" of the youths. It does, however, contain the following

Merlin Holland, however, cautions against judging Wilde’s actions by our own standards. “One is taking it out of context,” he argues. “It’s very difficult for me to look at it and say there was nothing wrong, but he was not an odious predator. The boys seemed to be willing partners and there appeared to be a relationship going on between him and them.”

Also, neither of those refs mention "poverty stricken youths." The third source, from 2012, is a two sentence item about a documentary examining Wilde's actions. It does not mention whether it was finished or whether it ever aired. To sum up the first two refs used do not back up the one sentence statement in the section. The third one uses some of the language in the sentence but does not pass muster as a reliable source about those assertions. Now I have taken Unibond's and Pincrete's comments onboard and I won't object to a section that thoroughly examines the aspects of the topic including Lord Alfred and Taylor's involvement. In its present form it is a WP:UNDUE statement. Again the references provided do not back up the statement made. Perhaps either or both of you can work on the section in user space and then move it here when you feel that it is ready. MarnetteD|Talk 02:57, 29 January 2016 (UTC)
I don't want to get into an edit war would you please replace the section as you see fit using this quote. Margaret Cotta, a chambermaid at the Savoy Hotel (a favourite rendezvous for Wilde and his series of young male 'renters') said she found a 'common boy, rough looking, about 14 years of age' in Wilde's bed, the sheets of which 'were always in a most disgusting state... [with] traces of vaseline, soil and semen'.
No, as that statement does not have anything to do with a modern day assessment of Wilde's actions. It would also still would be WP:UNDUE info without expansion and fuller context of the section. BTW in Frank Harris's biography of Wilde it is noted that it was Lord Alfred Douglas who had been in bed, and fouled the sheets, with the boy. MarnetteD|Talk 16:34, 29 January 2016 (UTC)
How can this article be neutral if his sexual abuse of children is whitewashed out of it ? Unibond (talk) 16:47, 29 January 2016 (UTC)
Do you have any understanding of Wikipedia's guidelines and policies regarding info placed in articles? At this point you will want to read WP:RIGHTGREATWRONGS MarnetteD|Talk 16:51, 29 January 2016 (UTC)
Yes I have read WP:RIGHTGREATWRONGS, are you proposing that the Guardian is not main stream media and/or Wilde's child abuse is not of any significance ? Unibond (talk) 17:50, 29 January 2016 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── You obviously haven't understood it. Your need to rewrite history is a textbook example of what that section is about. Teenagers are not children and the Guardian does not mention child abuse. Until you start following Wikipedia's policies and guidelines and stop misrepresenting sources as well as my posts I am done with this conversation. MarnetteD|Talk 19:02, 29 January 2016 (UTC)

Just to make it clear that mine was a general observation, rather than a response to the edit(s) in dispute. Having just read the three sources, I think the disputed text is (slightly) over-stated/simplified. None of the sources explicitly accuses of child-sex abuse, but all are clearly uncomfortable, with some of the facts (inc. Holland, his descendant). They are not so much overtly criticising as asking awkward questions.
Teenagers ARE children for the purposes of underage-sex legislation, and many of the recent notorious abuse cases involve those of 15+. I don't know how this should be represented. A lot of the raw facts are of course in Ellmann, who though is un-judgemental about those facts.Pincrete (talk) 21:37, 29 January 2016 (UTC)
I think you realise that your argument is weak as you have descended into making personal attacks against me. I have no desire to "rewrite history" only to record it warts and all. Wilde used child prostitutes, it is an important fact which should be included in the article. Currently it is whitewashed with weasel wording such as 'younger men' Unibond (talk) 14:10, 30 January 2016 (UTC)
Unibond, I guess that your remarks were not directed at me. I agree with you partially, but do the sources refer to 'child prostitutes'? The legal age of consent (I believe) was 15, though of course there was no 'legal age' for same-sex encounters. From Ellman, I recall that most of Wilde's encounters were with working-class young men, many of whom did appear to have primarily financial/status motives, though they were not necessarily 'professionals'. I believe there should be a way of representing this accurately without using 21st C. judgements. As I said previously, the sources used are more expressing disquiet with this aspect of Wilde than 'criticising'. From memory, he also visited a brothel in France shortly after his release, where he 'had' a 15-year-old girl, an experience he compared to 'mutton'. The ease with which the wealthy were able to purchase sex, and the readiness of society to 'turn a blind eye', is fairly shocking to us today. Pincrete (talk) 20:59, 30 January 2016 (UTC)
Irrespective of what we think of his actions today, if a mainstream source reports that he engaged in sex with minors it should be included in the article on Wilde. To not do so is to whitewash his behaviour for the sake of his modern political popularity. LeapUK (talk) 15:13, 13 August 2016 (UTC)
The issue at stake is not the adjudication of the moral or political biases of the editors, nor the assessment of Wilde's actions, but rather whether information about a particular encounter in Wilde's sex-life belongs in an encyclopedia entry on him (and if it does, then how important that information is and what weight the article should give it). For some context, there's is a section below from our article on Age of consent. The easy assumptions that we might be tempted to make today about what constitutes a minor ought not to be projected back to the Victorian era. Besides which, there are campaign groups who advocate an equal age of consent of 14. The assumptions of editors that Wilde is a child-abuser have more to do with bias within today's moral and political context than an historically informed, striving-for-objectivity assessment.  • DP •  {huh?} 19:46, 13 August 2016 (UTC)

A general shift in social and legal attitudes toward issues of sex occurred during the modern era. Attitudes on the appropriate age of permission for females to engage in sexual activity drifted toward adulthood. While ages from 10 to 13 were typically regarded as acceptable ages for sexual consent in Western countries during the mid-19th century, by the end of the 19th century changing attitudes towards sexuality and childhood resulted in the raising of the age of consent.

The English common law had traditionally set the age of consent within the range of 10 to 12, but in 1875 the age was raised to 13. Early feminists of the Social Purity movement, such as Josephine Butler and others, instrumental in securing the repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts, began to turn towards the problem of child prostitution by the end of the 1870s. Sensational media revelations about the scourge of child prostitution in London in the 1880s then caused outrage among the respectable middle-classes, leading to pressure for the age of consent to be raised again.

The investigative journalist William Thomas Stead of the Pall Mall Gazette was pivotal in exposing the problem of child prostitution in the London underworld through a publicity stunt. In 1885 he "purchased" one victim, Eliza Armstrong, the 13-year-old daughter of a chimney sweep, for five pounds and took her to a brothel where she was drugged. He then published a series of four exposés entitled The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon, which shocked its readers with tales of child prostitution and the abduction, procurement, and sale of young English virgins to Continental "pleasure palaces". The "Maiden Tribute" was an instant sensation with the reading public, and Victorian society was thrown into an uproar about prostitution. Fearing riots on a national scale, the Home Secretary, Sir William Harcourt, pleaded in vain with Stead to cease publication of the articles. A wide variety of reform groups held protest meetings and marched together to Hyde Park demanding that the age of consent be raised. The government was forced to propose the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885, which raised the age of consent to 16 and clamped down on prostitution.</ref>

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