Henry James called him a "fatuous cad," but we all know he was just jealous.
"I was a man who stood in symbolic relations to the art and culture of my age," said Oscar Wilde in that curious literary document, De Profundis. "Few men hold such a position in their own lifetime, and have it so recognized." He was wrong so far as his own lifetime was concerned, for the late Victorians would have been shocked or amused at the thought that this dandy, with his defiant creed of amoralism in the cause of art, should be regarded as anything but a deviant from the general current of the period. Yet, with a historical irony Wilde himself might have regarded as a vindication of his own playful doctrine of Life imitating Art, the symbolic relationship he demanded has been granted tacitly by posterity.