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Oscar Wilde by Richard Ellmann
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Oscar Wilde (original 1987; edition 1988)

by Richard Ellmann

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1,28886,082 (4.29)63
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Title:Oscar Wilde
Authors:Richard Ellmann
Info:Knopf (1988), Edition: 1st American Edition, Hardcover, 680 pages
Collections:Your library, RJ Books
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Tags:biography

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Oscar Wilde by Richard Ellmann (1987)

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The only biography - quite simply a masterpiece. (Except for the unfortunate photograph of 'Oscar' in drag, mistakenly identified by Ellmann.) ( )
  Angela.Kingston | May 1, 2013 |
Maybe the best literary biography ever written. ( )
  JayLivernois | Oct 28, 2009 |
Richard Ellman won the Pulitzer for his work on Oscar Wilde, and with good reason: it's not only the definitive look at the Irish poet, playwright, critic, and martyr, but it's also a ripping good read. Wilde was a movie star in a time before movies, a tabloid staple, and a constant bestseller, and Ellmann makes him -- and his work -- come alive.

Following Wilde's rise to literary and theatrical fame, a series of colossally bad decisions lead to his imprisonment and disgrace -- another ending we know is coming and want desperately for our subject to avoid. In Ellmann's capable hands -- especially as he traces the poet's final frustrating years -- Wilde emerges not so much a victim of Victorian morals but rather of his own ego and genius. And we're more than ready to forgive him for it. ( )
2 vote brianjayjones | Jun 17, 2009 |
There is no doubt about the quality of this biography. Every facet of Wilde is revealed in careful context and Ellmann is in sympathy with this larger than life character "laughing and weeping with parables and paradoxes".
He shows Wilde to be an extreme egoist who diligently builds up his "succès de scandale" seeking extensive letters of introduction before visiting America or France and pushing for meetings with the artistically famous. He becomes the leading "decadent" in already decadent late Victorian society with his silly aphorisms eg. "It's always a mistake to be innocent. To be criminal takes imagination and courage" - "the perfect hedonist is the saint ..... one is always good when one is happy" etc. etc. As a fashion socialist he forsees with approval the "annihilation of property, family life, marriage and jealousy" and he certainly annihilated his own marriage with his lies, broken promises and homosexual relationships.
He ends his life a lonely and penniless vagabond around Paris cafés.
A good book but I don't like the subject. ( )
  Miro | Mar 22, 2009 |
Many biographies have subtitles such as "his/her life and times", but few live up to it. This work more than meets the test in its comprehensive look at both, and will cause the reader to rush out and read more either about or written by Wilde. Tremendous writing! ( )
  doko | Feb 15, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0394759842, Paperback)

Richard Ellmann capped an illustrious career in biography (his James Joyce is considered one of the masterpieces of the 20th century) with this life of Oscar Wilde, which won both the National Book Critics Circle Award and Pulitzer Prize on its original publication in 1988. Ellmann's account of Wilde's extravagantly operatic life as poet, playwright, aesthete, and martyr to sexual morality is notable not only for the full portrait it gives of Wilde, but also for Ellmann's assessment of his subject's literary greatness; both aims are served by a plethora of quotations from Wilde's own work and correspondence. Wilde straddled the line between the Victorian age and the modern world as he did everything in life ... with impeccable style.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:57:57 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Traces the life and career of Oscar Wilde from his boyhood in Dublin to his tragic death in exile at age forty-six.

(summary from another edition)

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