On his deathbed Oscar Wilde was conditionally baptised into the Catholic Church, with the blessing, and also the misgiving, of Robert Ross. Though Wilde did hold up his hand in response to Fr Cuthbert Dunne’s questions, ‘he was never able to speak and we do not know whether he was altogether conscious’.1 As I have argued, this does not ultimately matter: Wilde had been Catholic in factual as well as in cultural terms at least since his second baptism in Glencree and the death of his sister. All the other seductions of the Church which he experienced in his life were directed towards getting him out of the Catholic closet and into the limelight. The final viaticum is the final step in this process.
KeywordsCultural Term Fairy Tale Religious Culture Final Letter English Empire
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- 1.Robert Ross, quoted in W. S. Blunt, My Diaries: Being a Personal Narrative of Events, 1888–1914 (London: Martin Seeker, 1920), part two, 126.Google Scholar
- 8.Coulson Kernahan, ‘Oscar Wilde’, Oscar Wilde: Interviews and Recollections, 2 vols, ed. E. H. Mikhail (London: Macmillan, 1979), vol. 2, 316–17.Google Scholar