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It is crucial that we read De Profundis in this way and

In a poignant moment of self-congratulation and self-torment, Oscar Wilde - prisoner of Reading Gaol - described himself as 'a man who stood in symbolic relations to the art and culture of my age'. Style becomes the central theoretical term for Wilde. Wilde aesthetic theories as outlined in the 1880s and 1890s look back to Baudelaire, Gautier, Poe, as well as to more recent influences and predecessors such as Ruskin, Whistler and Pater. In effect, the central importance of style is subsumed under one of Wilde's most important formulations: 'The Critic as Artist' intensifies the theoretical thrust of the 'The Decay of Lying' by claiming that language is 'the parent and not the child of thought'. This appears to anticipate structuralist concerns with language as a sign-system which creates meanings, rather than one which is created by meaning.