Oscar Wilde, for whatever reason, has been on my mind for nearly a year. (William Butler Yeats has been running around in there for about the same length of time.) So I bought the Richard Ellmann biography and just could not get into it. I got The Picture of Dorian Gray from the library – and was surprised at the violence in it, but recognized the greatness of the writing.
I ordered a classic from the library – a very old copy of Writings of Oscar Wilde, printed in 1931 – ‘5 volumes in one’ reads the subtitle. In the meantime, I found a biography I had gotten years ago, Oscar Wilde by Vyvyan Holland – (I have no idea where from – I didn’t know I had it) who turns out to have been the youngest of Wilde’s two sons.
So I read a few of the stories and a couple of poems- including the exceedingly brilliant The Ballad of Reading Gaol – then read the short Vyvyan biography. It is heart breaking, thought written in a simple and direct form, with no sentimentality or editorializing, and with many wonderful pictures.
Now I’m reading the fairy tales – powerful and gripping, and full of beauty, and am in the middle of De Profundis, written in jail to his lover, Lord Alfred Douglas.
The man could write. Anything ought to be forgiven a man with such a gift. And now, of course, his behavior would not be a crime. One hopes he might soon return to the planet.