The Importance of Being Earnest
I will survive; I'm my finest work of art.
—Terry Eagleton, Saint Oscar
Wilde's interest in the typing and printing of the work he wrote while in prison shows his interest in the mechanical striking of (a) type. As Wayne Koestenbaum notes, Wilde wanted De Profundis to be set down with a typewriter as soon as possible, specifying “that Ross 'must read it carefully and copy it out carefully every word for me.'”1 Even though he had produced what was nominally a personal letter, he knew that its permanence—and perhaps modernity—could only be ensured through typewriting. Whether or not Wilde preferred his own new type—the type of the proto-gay man—is perhaps uncertain, as he was given little choice in the matter. What is clear is that Wilde, by the twentieth cen tury's definition, came out of the closet. After his release from prison, Richard Ellmann recounts that “Wilde lolled about with young men. As he wrote to Smithers, 'Yes: even at Napoule there is romance: it comes in boats, and takes the form of fisher-lads, who draw great nets, and are bare-limbed: they are strangely perfect.'” During this stay, Wilde con sidered writing a “counterstatement to The Ballad of Reading Gaol, which