This critical account of Wilde's entire oeuvre shows him as the proponent of a radical aesthetic perilously at odds with Victorian society. Based on fresh material from many previously untapped sources, Ellmann depicts Wilde's dramatic ascent and sudden decline in vivid detail.
In this long-awaited bioraphy, 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. Based on fresh material from many hitherto-untapped sources, Ellmann depicts Wilde's comet-like ascent on the Victorian scene and his equally dramatic sudden eclipse. His Irish background, the actresses to whom he paid court, his unfortunate wife and lovers, his clothes, coiffures, and the decor of his rooms - all are presented here in vivid detail. 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 epoque" and the Greece, Italy and North Africa of Wilde's travels. Ellmann's definitive 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. This edition make the popular and best selling biography available in paperback for the first time.
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Part 1 Beginnings: toil of growing up; Wilde at Oxford; Rome and Greece; an incomplete aesthete. Part 2 Advances: setting sail; declaring his genius; indoctrinating America; countering the Renaissance; two kinds of stage; Mr and Mrs Wilde. Part 3 Exaltations: disciple to master; the age of Dorian; Hellenizing Paris; a good woman, and others; a late Victorian love affair; sailing into the wind. Part 4 Disgrace: "I am the prosecutor in this case"; doom deferred; Pentonville, Wandsworth and Reading; escape from Reading. Part 5 Exile: prisoner at large; the leftover years. Epilogue. Appendices: books by Wilde's parents; Wilde's manner of speaking.
Oscar Wilde by Richard Ellmann
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Penguin Books Ltd
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