Oscar Wilde

(Scarlett Clay) #1

Hello RZIM,
Can you please direct me to the original source for the quote Ravi Zacharias uses repeatedly concerning Oscar Wilde? In many lectures and interviews he recounts Oscar Wilde’s question to Robbie Ross asking him, “Did you ever love any of those boys for their own sake?” Robbie says, “No,” then Oscar replies, “Neither did I. Bring me a priest.”

Thanks for your help!

(SeanO) #2

Not sure where it is at in Oscar Wilde’s writings, but I think that exact quote may be from Ravi’s book.

At one point in the conversation, for example, Oscar Wilde himself broaches the subject very poignantly when he looks at one of his so-called lovers, and he asks him, “In loving one of those boys, did you ever love anyone of them for themselves?” And he pauses and says, “No, I never did.” And Wilde says, “Neither did I.” Now those are exactly his words in his writings. And what I tried to show is that the perversion of sexuality starts with loving somebody for yourself and not for themselves. And how can you love anybody for themselves unless you love God first?


(Scarlett Clay) #3

Thanks so much. I’ve noticed that Ravi quotes this as if it is historical. In the article you linked it says:

“…he asks him, “In loving one of those boys, did you ever love anyone of them for themselves?” And he pauses and says, “No, I never did.” And Wilde says, “Neither did I.” Now those are exactly his words in his writings. And what I tried to show is…”

“those are exactly his words in his writings…”

I’m working on a paper and I’m trying to find the original source for the dialogue, but cannot find it. Thanks for your help!

(SeanO) #4

@Scarlett_Clay Yep - not sure where in Oscar Wilde’s works that quote comes from. Please do share if you find it during your research :slight_smile:

(Matt Western) #5

I like digging up old information off the internet. I found a reference in the wikipedia article ‘https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deathbed_conversion’ to a broken link on poetrymagazines.org.uk so I used the internet archive (wayback machine) to retrieve it from 2008. Attached is the PDF printout as it’s quite a long page. Might be of interest as it contains a number of references to Robbie Ross (his friend) and Fr Cuthbert Dunne, C.P., the Catholic priest as deathbed eyewitnesses? :slight_smile:

Oscar Wilde- The Final Scene…poetrymagazines.org.uk.pdf (177.3 KB)
Oscar Wilde text only.pdf (102.9 KB)

(Scarlett Clay) #6

Thank! This was great information. I read it through, but still did not
see any reference to the dialogue that supposedly took place between Oscar and Ross about loving any of the boys “for their own sake”. If you ever come across any info on that, I would be grateful. I’m
trying to locate the source for that conversation so that I can include it in a research paper. I notice that blogs that include this account quote Ravi Zacharias as the source, but I need primary sources.

Thanks again for digging that up! A lot of good info. on Wilde’s last days!

(SeanO) #7

@Scarlett_Clay My understanding is that the dialogue between Oscar and Ross is fictional - Ravi made that up based upon something Oscar Wilde said in his writings. Basically, Oscar Wilde said somewhere in his writings that he never loved any of the kids for their own sake and Ravi put that idea into dialogue form. At least that is my understanding. So you would need to look into Oscar Wilde’s writings and see where he said that…

(Scarlett Clay) #8

Ok. If I’m understanding you correctly, the dialogue is not historical? I emailed a Wilde scholar (Dr. Bristow) at UCLA over the weekend and he could not confirm that the dialogue took place, either. And my response, as you might expect, is that if Oscar Wilde and Robbie Ross did not have that conversation, then perhaps it shouldn’t be continually told and repeated as if they did. I guess I’ll leave it at that. Thanks again for your help~

(SeanO) #9

@Scarlett_Clay I don’t want to misrepresent the facts here - maybe @CarsonWeitnauer would be able to track down the source of the quote???

Oscar Wilde was a man of his day. He indulged in unbridled sexual exploits; whether
it was men, women, or young boys, nothing stopped him – he indulged in unlimited
hedonistic pleasure. And then lying on his deathbed he looks over at his lover Robbie
Ross and says to him “Did you ever love any one of those boys for their own sakes?”
Shocked by the question, Robbie says, “no!” Oscar replied, “Neither did I. Bring me a
minister! Only the cross of Christ is big enough now to cleanse this heart of mine.”
Having lived a life dominated by lust, his heart was unable to experience love.

(Matt Western) #10

also @Scarlett_Clay , if interested, it’s possible to create a free account at the Internet archive, and loan out the book electronically from Ravi Zacharius for up to 14 days. It’s searchable too which is helpful. thought it might be worth a mention for your research (assuming you hadn’t already found this resource)?? :slight_smile:

(Scarlett Clay) #11

This is very helpful! Thanks so much, I was unaware of the archive.

Thanks again!

(Brandon Jeffers) #12

Hi @Scarlett_Clay,

Sorry for the delay. We’ve been looking into this further for you and hope to be able to provide a better answer very soon. Thank you for your patience.

(Scarlett Clay) #13

Thanks for letting me know!

(Derek Caldwell) #14

Hello @Scarlett_Clay! I am one of Ravi’s correspondence assistants, and I would love to help you out.

When I was doing my thesis research in a history program, I was often met with sources that quoted from older sources that were no longer in print and could not be verified. This can be very frustrating! It may very well be that Oscar Wilde asked Robbie Ross this question, but unfortunately I cannot locate the source for this exact conversation.

However, the historical record does show that Oscar asked this question of his friend, the notorious blackmailer Robert Cliburn, who had much in common with Robbie Ross (both were lovers of Wilde and younger men). You can find this conversation recounted in Neil McKenna’s book, The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde (Basic Books, 2006). McKenna’s source for this quote is the diary of George Cecil Ives. In an attempt to remain accurate to the currently available historical record, Ravi’s description of this question in his book Sense and Sensuality puts the conversation between Wilde and one of his “partners in crime,” and not between Wilde and Ross on Wilde’s deathbed.

I hope this helps!