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The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde by Neil McKenna

  1. 00
    The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (unknown_zoso05)
    unknown_zoso05: McKenna touches upon what influenced Wilde to write "The Picture of Dorian Gray".

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A very readable, fascinating, and poignant account of Wilde's life. ( )
  jcelrod | Dec 27, 2009 |
My first reaction to this book when I came across it in Waterstone's Piccadilly in May was to wonder how I had never come across it before. But when I looked at the publishing details, it wasn't as surprising. I did most of my Oscar Wilde reading in 2001 and what reading I did after the summer was going by the lists I had compiled then. In 2003-2004 I was busy with other reading and while I may have come across reviews of McKenna's book, there would always have been many more books at hand.

A quote from The Times on the front cover says "McKenna makes an impassioned case for re-gaying Wilde" and it was certainly refreshing to read something that challenged the views put forward in Richard Ellman's biography, which, as far as I know, have been more or less universally accepted as the probable truth - and Ellman's Oscar Wilde, if I remember correctly, did not have romantic friendships, did not do boys until Robbie Ross (it struck me at some point that I couldn't remember reading, in Ellman or elsewhere, how Wilde met Ross - McKenna reckons a first meeting in a public toilet wouldn't be too far-fetched - and so on). Moreover, McKenna's account of Oscar's love for Lord Alfred Douglas is the first one I've read that actually makes some sense (although at times it seemed to me that McKenna was trying too hard to justify Bosie and his actions), and the same goes for the relationship between Bosie's brother Viscount Drumlanrig and Lord Rosebery.

I really enjoyed reading this biography. ( )
1 vote mari_reads | Aug 27, 2006 |
Like so many biographies, this leaves me cold. Lots of facts, dates and names, but ... It's all just too subjunctive. And who uses "graven" as a past participle? ( )
  zeegeezer | Apr 3, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0465044395, Paperback)

In The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde, Neil McKenna provides stunning new insight into the tumultuous sexual and psychological worlds of this brilliant and tormented figure. McKenna charts Wilde’s astonishing odyssey through London’s sexual underworld, and provides explosive new evidence of the political machinations behind Wilde’s trials for sodomy. Dazzlingly written and meticulously researched, The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde offers a vividly original portrait of a troubled genius who chose to martyr himself for the cause of love between men.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:13 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde charts fully for the first time Oscar's astonishing erotic odyssey through Victorian London's sexual underworld." "Neil McKenna argues that Oscar Wilde was driven personally and creatively by his powerful desires for sex with young men and that his life and work can only be fully understood in terms of his sexuality." "The book draws on a wide range of sources, many of which are previously unpublished, and includes startling new material like the statements made by the male prostitutes and blackmailers who were ranged against Wilde at his trial and which have been lost for over a hundred years."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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