Oscar Wilde

Hi everybody. After having introduced you to this brilliant writer now look at a short amateur-video on Oscar Wilde’s Biography.

Here’s the scene of Wilde’s famous monologue on “love that dare not speak its name”during the trial, taken from the movie Wilde starring Stephen Frye.

“The Love that dare not speak its name in this century is such a great affection of an elder for a younger man as there was between David and Jonathan, such as Plato made the very basis of his philosophy, and such as you find in the sonnets of Michelangelo and Shakespeare. It is that deep, spiritual affection that is as pure as it is perfect. It dictates and pervades great works of art like those of Shakespeare and Michelangelo, and those two letters of mine, such as they are. It is in this century misunderstood, so much misunderstood that it may be described as the “Love that dare not speak its name,” and on account of it I am placed where I am now. It is beautiful, it is fine, it is the noblest form of affection. There is nothing unnatural about it. It is intellectual, and it repeatedly exists between an elder and a younger man, when the elder man has intellect, and the younger man has all the joy, hope and glamour of life before him. That it should be so, the world does not understand. The world mocks at it and sometimes puts one in the pillory for it.”

The third video is a collection of some of his famous aphorisms. 

    • Which one do you like best & why? Tell your partner.

I’ve also found an interesting  VIDEO ON THE BALLAD OF THE READING GAOL from the italian program Cult Book I’d like you to watch. E’ in italiano preso dal programma Cult Book, molto interessante anche nelle parole del critico letterario e traduttore Masolino D’Amico. Cos’hanno in comune le scene dei film scelte durante il video? Possiamo considerare la ballata come un inno contro la pena di morte? We’ll discuss in class.

Here’s a version of the ballad by GAVIN FRIDAY, released in 1989 and is the debut album following his exit from the Virgin Prunes. They made the history of rock music.

In case you’d forgotten it ,Oscar Wilde also wrote that beautiful classic tale of The Happy Prince. Extremely difficult to find, very rarely repeated on TV and yet so wonderful – it’ll stay with you forever. Sit back and enjoy listening to this wonderful story !

Did you know that Al Pacino made a movie on Wilde’s Salomè? In this short video you can see Wilde’s home in Dublin. Should you ever go there you can visit it once a week, I guess on Wednesday.

Last but not least here’s the whole NOVEL as electronic text.

  • Home assignment: Read The last Chapter 20.

Should you want to know more about the themes of the novel have a look at Spark Notes.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this post. If you feel like leave a comment 🙂

36 thoughts on “Oscar Wilde

  1. I have to be honest: really often I don’t like to much the authors that we study, because I see them so far away from our time, and they can involve me with a limit, up to a certain point. Oscar Wilde is different: I ever thought that it was a contemporary author, and with “contemporary”, I mean an author that lives in our days. I can’t say the exact reason, but his mentality and his ideas are similar to our. About him I really like his aphorism, because it is, in my opinion, pure wisdom. My favourite is “we are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”: I really love it, because it is cruel, but it is true, and it leaves a veil of hope. It is a difficult period, we are in a global crisis, so we are all in the sh.. ehm, gutter! But this isn’t a valid reason to give up: we have to work hard, and have faith in a better future. So we would be, in some ways, dreamers, and I consider myself a dreamer. Talking about “The Ballad of the Readin Gaol”, I agree that this is a hymn against the death penalty, but I consider it, first of all, a hymn to mercy, to forgiveness. Instead I disagree if the idea of the author: it seems to consider the murderer of the man a punishment for killing love, the feeling, but it isn’t correct: he was killed for having killed a person, not a feeling. Finally, my interpretation of the phrase “each man kills the thing he loves” is that he thinks that everything is going to have an end, every feeling, every love, every relation, but I think it is terribly wrong: this is the most common thing, but there isn’t any rule that affirm it: sometime it is forever.

    • Do you mean you ALWAYS thought he was a contemporary or never?
      Sometimes Mattia, behind an action like killing a person there might be an IDEA and that person or object may SYMBOLIZE something else, don’t you think?

  2. I’ve read The Picture of Dorian Grey in italian (3 years ago) and in english (last year). I found it beautiful, it’s incredible how deep Wilde went inside the mentality and the thoughts of Dorian, who represent the vanity and the long-live wish that characterized the man of now, as the man of his time. When, in class, we deepened in Wilde life I felt amuse by his way of life, how he was able to live only thinking about pleasures of life, his danyness was fascinating, he taught to other of to live full our beautiful life.
    I think that the biggest quality of Oscar Wilde was the ability to understand people and how they were/are able to wear a mask everyday and not going around with their true faces.

    The aphorism that represent more the thought of Wilde I think is “The only thing worse then being talked about is not being talked about.” He demonstrates, with this sentence, how the most important thing for him was to being at the center of the attention of everyone, every people have to talk about him, doesn’t matter if is in a bad way or in a good way.

  3. Just a short comment.
    I read “The picture of Dorian Gray” two years ago and, even if I found some parts very slow and boring (maybe because I didn’t know what Aesthetism was), I thought it was a brilliant work above all for his unexpected ending. In addition, this cult of beauty was fascinating and different from all other styles in literature, but at the same time really superficial so couldn’t make my idea on it.
    Now that we are studying Oscar Wilde, I understood the contest where he lived and I admire him for his unconventional personality and thoughts: he had the courage to distinguish himself from the mass, create a sort of an idol of himself reacting vitally to the period’s crysis. Also his many aphorisms demonstrate his will of being popular because they have always a great impact on the mass, more than poems or novels.
    Really self-confident and assertive, I like him for these aspects.

  4. After the lesson I realized how much the Oscar Wilde life was interesting and that I didn’t really know nothing about it. I think that he is a great figure all to discover. The early life with his freedom and tranquility opposite to two years of prison in contact with all thing, that aren’t the opposite which are in the Dandy’s world, the rudeness of the jail that change all his view, how is said in the video of Cult Book. This only for the right to Love without limits who he wanted! His monologue, in the trial, was brilliant, rich of pathos and I totally agree with him, everyone should have the possibility to love someone else without shame and hidden it.
    In my opinion Oscar Wilde can’t be more present that he is!! All his theme are all the problem of our society: the right of the homosexual, our connection with the beauty, the fear to become old, the problem of death penalty, in these days all these things are discuss, in France in particular last week was active and important debate about the “gay marriage and the adoption” . Wilde’s point of view of these theme is also very innovative for his age and for some aspect also for our: the capital penalty is now a days a very burning argument and no all states accept that Is a stupid thing and also with the homophobia is a very a serious problem, in particularly for the young generation.
    The video of the aphorisms are very interesting, in according with what I say before, most of it can be consider very present: for example the last “We live in an age when unnecessary thing are the only necessities ” . When I read it I think at the Federico Mazzon’s presentation on Monday, he talked about the fact that to pour people of an African’s nation is more important have a mobile phone than eat (in my opinion is a perfect example of the true of this quote) and also I think at the publicity and the television give us this message all day, all time. Also I found very interesting the previous that talks about “the interesting person”, I think that is a strange but very brilliant point of view, it makes me think 

    • A true genius goes beyond time and space & that’s what make a great novel or writer universal. I like the aphorism you’ve chosen and also your remark.

  5. At the beginning, when I read The picture of Dorian Gray some years ago, I didn’t like a lot the way of writing of Oscar Wilde. Now that I’ve study him, I feel more interested to him. Especially because of the aphorisms, that I find peculiar and real at the same time, but also because of other things like the tail The happy prince, that I’ve never heard before.
    In my opinion Oscar Wilde’s monologue from the movie Wilde si brillant, because he explain his point of view to a particular audience: the society of the Wilde’s time was characterized by prejudices about the people who were a bit different from the common ones.
    My favourite aphorism is this: The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Temptations are, in a way, like dreams, but maybe more superficial; a dream is something that you wuld like to realize, and a temptation is a similar thing. When you yield to it, you fell happy and thoughtless. I also think that temptations are positive, and not always negative, because if something tempt you it means that you like it.

    • Don’t you think that prejudices are still present in our society even though in a different form? Your aphorism is fantastic I love it too & every time I yield to chocolate I think of it 😉

  6. The aphorism I like most is “Genius is born, not paid”. In fact it well express the uncontrollability of the amount of intelligence in each of us, one of the few things that nowadays can’t be bought by money.

    I personally find very interesting the video about “The Ballad of the Reading goal”, in fact it makes me in condition to understand how the prison can change a man. But in the whole sense of the ballad I found two main things that i personally define contraddictions, but that could also be misunderstandings of mine. In fact I’d like to discuss in class about theme.

    1) The author in his ballad said that he’s sure that prison does not change people, it just makes suffer them; but at the same time he declares he has been really changed during his staying in prison.

    2) Wilde spoke a lot about forgiveness, in the christian sense of the term, in case the accused man is truly repented of his crime. But Wilde never said to be repented of his crime (as long as you want to consider it a crime); So, how can he ask to be forgiven?

    • I do not agree with you completely.TALENT is important but without EFFORT & DEDICATION it leads to nothing. A lot of young athletes have beetled to believe that “talent” was more important than practice while it’s scientifically proved & demonstrated that with equal talent the one who practices & trains more is the one who gets the best results.
      As regards the ballad I find your remark interesting & can only answer by saying that contradictions are part of the human kind. What Wild meant was that prison won’t make the essence of a man change but such an experience will – and did in his case – change his attitude and behavior or belief.
      2) I don’t consider his homosexuality a crime therefore I don’t see why he should have repented and what he should have asked forgiveness for. Hope to have answered your question.

  7. The variety of these videos and ballad give exactly the sense of the complex of Oscar Wilde’s personality : a life where the priorities were entertainment, relationships both with boys and girls, the cult of beauty and so on. Ideas contrasting between them like his deep Chatolic belief and his life completely dissolute until his incarceration that is the passage more painful of his existence. In that moment he changed his vision of life and probably his soul suffered a severe blow. All this is the reason of his great success over time.

    This is the quote that I like better than the others, because it’s contemporary; everyday in fact, especially when people talk with young people, want to show their knowledge even if often they know nothing. I prefer those who speak not so much, probably the risk to say something wrong is lower !

  8. Oscar Wilde is certainly a complex poet, but he throught his works he had expressed very important messages.
    I find the Wilde’s monologue very interesting. His words are rich of deep meanings and I find them very close to the modern thoughts. In particular I believe that this short expression represents a fundamental point ” the world does not understand” In my opinion he wanted criticize the society, people, mentality of the era where he lived. He saw that it had determinate believes and that it followed defined schemes. Everything that is seen by it different, anomalous, strange it wouldn’t be accepted by it. He believed for this reason that ” the world does not understand”; in particular it doesn’t understand the love, the feelings that Wilde substained saying that “There is nothing unnatural about it”.

    One of the aforisms of the author that I prefer are “arguments are to be avoided; they are always vulgar and often convincing” I really agree with this expression: when people argue with others if they don’t know what to say to refute a thesis they tend to defend themself, using a vulgar language. And in a lot of cases they are seen convincing by others.
    Another aforism that have interested me is “We live in a age where unnecessary are only our necesitas”. It is linked to the esthetism of Wilde; he during his life followed this ideology, and we know that he used to surround himself with possesions.But we can also insert this aforism in the modern contest, where the economic system is dominated by consumerism. People today are influenced by advertisings that make them think that their happyness is caused by a material things, which often they aren’t really useful.

    In the video about “The ballad of the Reading goal” we can see some images of different films. In the firsts there’re violent acts that rapresent the theme of the ballad that can be express in this sentence “Each man kills the thing that he loves”. It is linked to a his autobiographic event. Probably it can be seen this text like a protest against the death penalty, but in particular against the violence beteween the men. I agree with Stas Garonsky when he say that Wilde had evolved his thinking, and in this work he demonstrated it. This condition made him reflect a lot: he in the gaol suffered, and he knew that there were other men that were suffering like him.

    • MIND THAT he was not only poet but a NOVELISY & PLAYWRIGHT.I’m also fed up with this constant verbal aggression & verbal violence on tv!Thanks for your comment.

  9. The video of this post are interesting and give ideas on various topics. What concerns the ballad, we can consider it as an anthem against the death penalty. In fact, as is said in the video, you do not pay the death of a man with another death. If we compare the issues addressed in this work compared to those of Dorian Gray, we see a significant difference, also given to her experiences. In Dorian Gray is responsible for the beauty and her fear of growing old and then to change appearance, the Ballad is responsible for what happens in prison and sentences are carried out on people.
    With regard to the concept of materialism, the second material things do not make me a happy man, but you create an illusion of being happy.

  10. I was really impressed by The Ballad of the Reading Gaol because really intensive and terrifying. We understand how Oscar Wilde lived those moments of tension in a pitiful way. He lived the oppression of the prison system that drove him to write this ballad, full of suspense and compassion for the prisoners. This experience may have contributed to the aphorism: “We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars”!

    I like the aphorism, “Genius is born, not paid” that you can now connect in a generic way to many people or institutions. It may be a modern statement because influences the way we act: people in certain situations, though they havn’t done nothing to get there. The personality borns with us, we can not invent it.

    • Yes but we can IMPROVE it and strengthen our weaknesses and enhance our strengths. Nobody gets anything worth remembering without any effort or commitment. I do not believe in natural born talent without sweat & hard work 😉 as I wrote in answer to Giacomo.

  11. How can a dandy who says “I can resist anything except temptation” write such a moving fable of clear spiritual value as “The Happy Prince”? I was quite surprised when I found out these aspects of Oscar Wilde’s personality and thus I tried to analyze his biography to understand this contradiction.

    I discovered that he was a perverted man: while he was married to Constance Lloyd, he had more than one relationship at the same time and preferred spending his time in a hotel rather than in a house: in this way he could organize meetings with young boys more easily and without any problem of being controlled. On the other hand, he was characterized by a deep religious belief which led him to get closer to Catholicism and Pope Pius IX whose homilies he was a regular attender when he lived in Rome and to whom he dedicated a sonnet. The common idea that Wilde developed his reflections on God during the two terrible years of jail is therefore not correct. His faith was in fact mirrored in his works such as “The Happy Prince” which was written several years before his arrest. He finally converted to Catholicism.

    I think that contradictions and inconsistency, difficult to be logically explained, may be some important reasons which made Wilde’s figure and works successful.

  12. After reading this blog I understand why Oscar Wilde is so famous . This man establishes a his style of life and he was so sure about it that he was able to convey it to other people, and this isn’t simple. Wilde wasn’t a humble man but this is the proof of his certainty in his thoughts. Only one big event changed completely his life: the prison.
    Cult Book video shows and describes the catastrophe in his soul, all his values were deleted, his priorities changed, his thoughts renovated. Probably for the first time he looked at life from a new point of view, unfortunately sad and tragic. The images of the video are, in my opinion, particularly incisive to explain the shocked soul of Wilde in front of the tortures and of death: his brain couldn’t accept this type of cruelty and the tribal punishment of death to restore a previous death: the ballad in fact seems, also nowadays, an ode to abhor violence.
    I really appreciate the video of “The Happy Price”, this short novel represents the kindness of the poet. Wilde must be defined as an eclectic artist because he wrote kind stories, catching psychological novels, depressing and sad themes during the two years in prison and prickly quotations. What genres lack? Romantic adventures? There are also them in his novels!
    I personally appreciate this aphorism: “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask and he will tell you the truth”. This quotation is incredibly true because a man can’t be totally objective about himself, he will always change some adjectives to define himself, but if you give him a mask, he will tell the real truth because, and this is strange but true, he’ll think to have another body, he will think to talk about another person and he will tell all the details he knows about this “person”: this is the only way to catch the truth.
    I also found “merveilleux” (as Baudelaire would have said) the dialogue on love, his logic speech astonished me for its rationality (another proof of his strong ideas).

  13. I saw the film “The Picture of Dorian Gray” in Italian, when it was pubblished in the cinemas, in 2009; before it I didn’t know the story but I was struck by the film, then I had always wanted to read the book, but the first time I read it was last summer, in English.
    Sincerely, I like it very much, but it impressed me a lot because it made me think, everytime there were reflections on the theme of the passage of the time, and on the youth and beauty that go away; I admit that I was afraid about these considerations .

    Therefore, I think that one of the best aphorism of Oscar Wilde is “We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars” : in my opinion it is in agreement with the themes of the novel because, I believe, the meaning of this sentence is that we are all in the same conditions where the only certainty is death, but someone rejects the idea to wait that something happen and at the same time conforming with what life offers; the message, conversely, is to focus on what you really want.

    About the notion of Love, I think it’s very deep and at the same time he was also ingenious : when he said “There is nothing unnatural about it”, this is a very clear and direct affirmation but able to express perfectly the concept.

    Studying Wilde in class, I was surprised of how his life and his personality were projected into his Works and in my opinion he’s a very interesting author to study.

  14. I read “The picture of Dorian Gray” in English last summer and, even though I was sometimes bored reading it because of its slow rhythm of narration, i still find it a masterpiece. I was interested in the immortal theme of eternal youth and I was impressed by the way Oscar Wilde handled it: men are obsessed by the eternal beauty of art, a beauty that will never die, instead of the human’s one, which will fade away with the time passing by. In the novel this severe law is broken and actually it is the picture, a piece of art, that grow older in place of the protagonist, Dorian Gray.

    The Wilde’s aphorism I like most is “I can resist everything except temptation”: he says he can resist anything but, at the same time, he admit there’s nothing he can actually resist to. Indeed, our life is continuously permeated by temptations and we can’t just hold out against all of them!

    I found very interesting the monologue of Oscar Wilde, performed by Stephen Frye in the movie “Wilde”, and I hope we’ll have the opportunity of watching all of it in class. I am also interested in the “Ballad of Reading Gaol”, which I hope we’ll handle in class.

  15. I read “The Picture of Dorian Gray” in Italian two years ago and I found it beautiful and at the same time very modern, because nowadays there are lots of people that would sell their soul for remain young forever.
    Studying Oscar Wilde in class, I understand that not only his masterpiece was partucular, but also his personality was it too.
    He had, with no doubt, an eventful life, plenty of passions and experiences and these videos make me understand how much he had suffered in prison.
    His monologue on “love that dare not speak its name” shows that his mentality was more opened than ours, because he said that love “it is the noblest form of affection” and there is nothing wrong with homosexual love. The ralationship between two men, or between two women, was and is a problem, only because the society considered that was a problem.
    I really apprecciated his conception of love and I found it very true and sweet.
    On “The Ballad of the reading goal”, like Masolino D’amico says, there is a criticism on the way that the prisoners were treated and in a way also at the death sentence, because Wilde says that forgiveness is important, so people can repair at the mistakes that they have made and what surprised me it’s that all this conception is seen in a religious way.
    My favorite aphorism is “We live in an age where unneccessary things are our only necessities”. I think that today this quotation is even more true today than at the Time of Wilde.
    In my opinion material things don’t make us happy. We have only the illusion of be happy. Only superficial people can live all their life beliving that “money makes happiness”, but if we are a little bit sensible we can understand that happiness resides in the relationship with the other.

  16. Oscar Wilde already from the brief introduction made in class gave me straight away the idea of ​​being a great poet. In his works he put on his talent while in the life of every day applied his genius; despite his verses were surrounded by simple sentences, behind every word there was a deeper meaning concealed that managed to attract the attention of the people who read his works. For most of his life he was a dandy, leading a life linked with luxury and pleasure, but, as a result of a conviction for homosexuality was forced to spend two years in prison. This experience has matured him a lot as a man and as a poet. I was struck by the fact of how he managed to rebuild a new life with great force and overcome the unpleasant adventure. The monologue is very important to understand the causes that led him to prison. At that time there were strong prejudices against homosexuals, but as rightly said Oscar Wilde in his love, that emphasized and highlights in his poetry, there was something pure and perfect that it had already been noted in Plato’s philosophy. The aphorisms are all of significant and difficult to interpret, I was particularly interested in the first one: “Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.” In my estimation here Oscar wanted to highlight the fact that people who live in total monotony, making every day the same choices and the same actions fails to capture the beauty of life and see what lies beyond, and therefore they can not have imagination. The interpretation that gave the critics in the third video was very comprehensive, with the music they managed to create a sort of melancholy just to highlight the brutality of the actions that occurred in prison. Oscar Wilde in his poem shows his compassion and his support against those who were sentenced to death, but more than a hymn against the death penalty, this ballad was a demonstration of piety towards the human being and his atrocious actions. Regarding to the second last video “The happy prince,” I have to explain that I have read it when I was in elementary school but it was still nice to hear this delightful history.

    • The aphorism you chose reminds of S. Jobs’s words “Stay Hungry, stay foolish!” Thanks for your comment. It shows reflection.

  17. Studying the main events in the Wilde’s life helped me to understand his life style. Before it I consider him a person who lived simply in his “world of art”, where the only important thing is the beauty. The notice that he stayed two years in prison shocked me! What I meant was that I can’t imagine him (so intellectual and obsessed with beauty) together with robbers, rapists and killers. I also read from Wikipedia that in prison he didn’t have a mattress: I’m convinced that passing from a rich condition to a prison it was particularly hard.

    The video from the tv program “Cult Book” talks about his two years in prison. Obviously the critics underline that after this tragic experience Wilde appeared as a new person, who gave less importance to beauty and more importance to the essential aspects of life. In prison the writer lived suffering years and he had the possibility to reflect about a theme that is already nowadays discussed in some countries: the death penalty.
    It seems to me that the critics focus too much the review about a religious aspect. What I was trying to say was that Wilde isn’t known as a catholic man who spent his life in a religious way; but on the contrary he based his life on esthetic values, not ethical values (as a Christian religion should recommend). So I don’t completely agree with them.

    Now talking about the cause of his imprisonment, I think that It’s a shame considering unnatural the love between two men or women. Nowadays some ignorant people continue to consider the homosexuality a “problem”. So, considering the age when he lived, the cause of his charge doesn’t surprise me. The monologue underlines that there isn’t anything bad in love (not even if we are talking about homosexuality!). If someone have something against homosexuality, it simply means homophobia.

    The aphorism that I chose is:
    “There are only two kinds of people who are really fascinating: people who know absolutely everything, and people who know absolutely nothing”
    First of all I don’t believe that a kind of people who can know everything can exist. So in my opinion the only people who are really interesting are the humble (umile) ones. We should admit our limits and try to learn something by everyone because everyone surely have something to teach us.

    Giulia Alessandrelli 5E

    • Yes Giulia, we never stop learning & “The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.”C.Rogers
      The account of the years Wilde spent in prison have deeply touched & impacted on you all. Interesting how much you can still learn at school that you didn’t know & that can make you THINK. I still have a role 🙂

  18. This time I thought I knew something about Oscar Wilde, but after the introduction of him in class today and after the information learned through the blog, I realized that what I knew was nothing compared to what I’ve learned today. Certainly the first and the third video have consolidated what we have said today: focusing my attention on the third video, the aphorism that impressed me the most is “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” I chose this aphorism, although I didn’t know exactly what Oscar Wilde meant, because I think that when a man play a role and when the protagonist is himself, he is able to say everything, but when he has to make an inner analysis, seems he isn’t able to do the same thing.
    The fourth video, which was the one that involved me a lot, it makes me think of many situations, but the worst is that, unfortunately, man always falls into the same mistakes of all time. Think that man can treat another man in the most cruel and shameful way, it makes me very sad. In fact, when our beliefs can be challenged by something new, that scares us because our first reaction is to oppose us to the new situation and NOT to analyze it and ask ourselves: why did this happen? Homosexuality is a very sensitive issue and what scares me the most (maybe I’m too pessimistic) is the fact that there could be someone, even today in the 21° century, that could make a massacre against those who are homosexual, but you never know it and I hope that I’m wrong!!!
    Anyway, I really liked the fact that the author in his work didn’t focus on the punishment, but on the prisoners. As the critic, Masolino D’Amico, said that Oscar Wilde through his work wants to show how feels a man in that condition, and seems to find a solution to the problem causing more pain: killing others!
    It ‘s true, in this work Oscar Wilde does not seem the same of the one in The Picture of Dorian Gray, but of course a similar experience marks your life forever!
    The other videos were very interesting, the one about the music, or Al Pacino’s movie , but especially the one of The Happy Prince was very involving and had a deep and important meaning!!
    I hope I was clear when I expressed my thoughts on the fourth video, I would not be misinterpreted! 🙂

    • Your comment shows great sensitivity Dajana. I really hope the future will be more liberal & open-minded but sometimes I doubt & my belief on the human kindness vacillate.You can make the difference 😉

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