Critchley on Oscar Wilde
Wilde’s extraordinary panegyric to Christ culminates in what he calls Christ’s ‘dangerous idea’. This turns upon the treatment of a sinner like Wilde himself. Christ does not condemn the sinner – “Let him of you who has never sinned be the first to throw the stone” – but rather sees sin and suffering as ‘being in themselves beautiful holy things and modes of perfection’. By this, Wilde does not mean that the act of sin itself is holy, but the transfiguration of this act that follows from the experience of long repentance and suffering. To this extent, and Wilde finds this a deeply un-Hellenic thought, one can transform one’s past through a process of aesthetic transfiguration or sublimation.