For Oscar Wilde, “Truth in Art is the unity of a thing with itself—the outward rendered expressive of the inward: the soul made incarnate: the body instinct with spirit.” In De Profundis, he provides his own concise precis of his literary achievement:
The gods had given me almost everything. I had genius, a distinguished name, high social position, brilliancy, intellectual daring: I made art a philosophy, and philosophy an art: I altered the minds of men and the colours of things: there was nothing I said or did that did not make people wonder: I took the drama, the most objective form known to art, and made it as personal a mode of expression as the lyric or the sonnet, at the same time that I widened its range and enriched its characterisation: drama, novel, poem in rhyme, poem in prose, subtle or fantastic dialogue, whatever I touched I made beautiful in a new mode of beauty: to truth itself I gave what is false no less than what is true as its rightful province, and showed that the false and the true are merely forms of intellectual existence. I treated Art as the supreme reality, and life as a mere mode of fiction: I awoke the imagination of my century so that it created myth and legend around me: I summed up all systems in a phrase, and all existence in an epigram.
Wilde’s spectacular climb to disrepute also included his heartbreaking fall from grace. He famously acknowledged, “I have put my genius into my life; I have put only my talent into my works.”