By Karl Kerenyi
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Extra resources for Apollo: The Wind, the Spirit, and the God : Four Studies (Dunquin Series)
The English setting is slowly placed under erasure as a type of radical poverty is preached. The Prince renounces his gold and jewels, products of colonial exploitation, to become as poverty-stricken as his subjects. For this he is rewarded with everlasting life in heaven. The implicit lesson is that England must become more like Ireland (or perhaps is already more like Ireland than she is willing to admit) if she is to become truly philanthropic. The oral imagination of an Irish folk-tale pervades the literate print culture of educated England, reﬂecting the story’s origin in Irish legend and Wilde’s own position as an Irish conversationalist in urban London.
As Tholfsen points out, this ideological structure was upheld fervently and was penetrated with the values and enthusiasm of the evangelical movement. Ordinary activities were given the religious validity of pilgrimage and, indeed, the Victorian gospel of success and enterprise should be thought of in religious terms. Of course, this religion of work and practicality was conducive to the maintenance of the status quo and was in the end a middle-class bulwark. As Tholfsen puts it, ‘Implicit in the articulation of formally universal consensus values were social presuppositions that bent them into the shape required by an inegalitarian society; differential social roles assumed middle-class pre-eminence’ (197).
While economic growth did bring about an overall improvement in welfare, as evidenced by the increase in life expectancy, it ‘left behind a substantial residue of the population in poverty’ (Floud 9). While the wealthy moved out of the centre itself and migrated to the suburbs, the poor and the immigrant took up residence in the conﬁning streets and laneways (Dyos and Reeder), and a ‘deep gulf’ became established between the ‘experiences and values’ of slum dwellers and suburbanites (Briggs 326).
Apollo: The Wind, the Spirit, and the God : Four Studies (Dunquin Series) by Karl Kerenyi