Oscar Wilde

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Vintage Books, 1988 - Biography & Autobiography - 680 pages
65 Reviews
In this biography, Wilde the legendary Victorian--brilliant writer and conversationalist, reckless flouter of social and sexual conventions--is brought to life. More astute and forbearing, yet more fallible than legend has allowed, Wilde is given here the dimensions of a modern hero. The author depicts Wilde's comet-like ascent on the Victorian scene and his equally dramatic sudden eclipse. He presents Wilde's Irish background, the actresses to whom he paid court, his unfortunate wife and lovers, his clothes, coiffures, and the decor of his rooms. The saga of his 1882 American tour is recounted with a wealth of new details; also his later impact on the bastions of the French literary establishment. The London of the Nineties, of Whistler and the Pre-Raphaelites, Lillie Langtry and the Prince of Wales, is evoked alongside Paris of the "belle époque" and the Greece, Italy and North Africa of Wilde's travels. This critical account of Wilde's entire oeuvre shows him as the proponent of a radical new aesthetic who was perilously at odds with Victorian society. After his period of success and daring, the fatal love affair with Lord Alfred Douglas is followed by exposure, imprisonment, a few wretched years abroad and death in exile. The tragic end of Wilde's life leaves the reader with a sense of compassion and grief for the protagonist.

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Review: Oscar Wilde

User Review  - Vasilina Smirnova - Goodreads

Since Oscar Wilde is my all time favorite writer, reading his biography was a great pleasure full of excitement. I fell in love with the content instantly. Reading it made me very satisfied with the ... Read full review

Review: Oscar Wilde

User Review  - Goodreads

I added this book to my 'To Read' list in 2009 and still haven't gotten to it. It won the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography and is about the man I most love to quote. Guess I'd better get on with it. Read full review



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About the author (1988)

Ellmann was the Goldsmiths Professor of English Literature at Oxford University.

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