After William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) is the most quoted of writers. His epigrams turned conventions upside down and are part of our cultural inheritance. His personality defined an era. His popularity as a wit, a dramatist and an icon continues to grow. One hundred years after Wilde's death, he remains entertaining and outlandish, ...
After William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) is the most quoted of writers. His epigrams turned conventions upside down and are part of our cultural inheritance. His personality defined an era. His popularity as a wit, a dramatist and an icon continues to grow. One hundred years after Wilde's death, he remains entertaining and outlandish, talking about everything and nothing. Wilde's rise to prominence as an unparalleled playwright of high comedy, and his ego-driven fall from grace continue to fascinate. His life, famous trial and his death were played out in the full glare of the public's gaze. Barbara Belford's Wilde is for a new generation of readers: not the tragic figure, the martyr, the self-destructive fop. Instead Belford explores his sexuality in a more relaxed manner than previous biographers, she opens up the gaps between the facts to portray Oscar Wilde in all his complexity, genius and humanity.
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He favored grey or brown velvet jackets, broad brimmed hats, gold tipped cigarettes and absinthe to drink ! The second son of a famed eye and ear surgeon, Oscar Wilde became the "aesthete" fore runner of Victorian England at the turn of the century. Unlike other Wilde biographies, Barbara Belford has spared not a one idiosyncratic detail of Oscar's personality. Much insight is gained in his relationships to several women lovers, including his loyal wife, Constance Lloyd who remains devoted to him despite the harrowing "vice trial" and its ignominious ending. His relationships to men is also described and right up to his death, they remained devoted to him as well, including his last lover, who obtained a priest for Oscar's last minute death bed conversion ! You will enjoy this wonderfully explicit account of a genius of a man !
Publishers Weekly, 2000-10-02 Wilde died on November 30, 1900Dthus the timing of this centenary biographyDand media attention to this anniversary could send people in to purchase this new bio of the outrageous but likable dramatist and wit. The standard life is by Richard Ellmann, published posthumously in 1987 and nearly twice as long as this one by Belford, biographer of Violet Hunt and Bram Stoker. Belford's major quarrel with Ellmann is whether Wilde at his death was suffering from the final indignities of syphilis acquired in his youth, but that controversy is not enough to make a case for this new biography. Belford's strategic strengthDsince few if any can compete with a masterly stylist such as EllmannDis to exploit Wilde's words whenever possible. She sees Wilde as evading overt homosexual conduct while building a reputation as satirist and social critic, and even marrying for what seemed like love. Yet leading an imaginary life, however obviously precious, was, she says, a tiring role he rejected for a bolder deception. At first his guilty parallel life was craftily reinvented in his writings, becoming the fulcrum of his comedies. When it surfaced, as was inevitable, so did his "intractable nature," and he made a public caseDin courtDfor the absolute freedom of the artist. It cost him two years of hard labor, his health and his career. Out of prison and in exile in France, he insisted, "I must remake my maimed life on my own lines," but by then his life was all but over. His wife was dead, his two sons lived under new surnames, and his plays had been pulled from the stage. Cerebral meningitis, whatever its origin, did Wilde in two weeks after his 46th birthday. With a penchant for overstatement ("Christ had his cult, and Wilde had his"), Belford claims, "Ellman wrote the tragedy of Wilde, not the life." Still, there is more life in what remains the standard biography of Wilde than in what Belford offers. Illus. not seen by PW. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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