A collection of works by Wilde, describing his thoughts on literature and social principles. It includes "The Soul of Man", a manifesto on Individualism, and "De Profundis", an attempt at self-analysis. Also two letters on prison injustices, and "The Ballad of Reading Gaol".
Oscar Wilde is best known for his extravagantly witty plays and epigrams, but he was also a serious writer about literature and social principles. In "The Soul of Man" he wrote a kind of manifesto, preached an idea of Individualism, and defended the individual against the claims of society, whether of custom, of conformity, or of convention. After the drama of the successful playwright's trials for homosexual acts, he was imprisoned with hard labour for two years, under harsh regulations and in unrelieved solitary confinement. "De Profundis", the long letter he composed in Reading Gaol, is a unique human document and attempt at self-analysis and autobiography. It is published here with Wilde's two long letters on prison injustices, sent to the "Daily Chronicle" after serving his sentence. The execution of a fellow prisoner for murder inspired the one work he accomplished on his release, "The Ballad of Reading Gaol". This volume presents the less familiar, serious Wilde, before and after his fall.