What is remarkable about Wilde’s formalism is that it is so absolutely human. This may come as a surprise, because we’re inclined to think of Wilde’s aesthetics as hothouse stuff. Nothing could be farther from the truth. With Wilde, the unto-itselfness of formalism (and, yes, maybe even the hothouse preciosity of some formalism) is a response to a human problem, a response to the slavery of facts, truths, first impressions. This is not a formalism of necessity but a formalism of free choice—born of the desire to be oneself, to turn away from the world not because history has forced you to do so but because you have chosen to.