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The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde (Paperback)Neil McKenna
Paperback Published: 05/09/2002
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Neil McKenna argues that our view of Oscar Wilde, even after Ellman's magisterial biography of the great author and playwright, is determined by Victorian sentimentality. In his own much more modern version of Wilde's story, McKenna portrays the literary genius as being not only extremely promiscuous but also a sort of campaigner for sexual freedom. He reveals, for example, that Wilde's relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas, which provided the inspiration for the classic novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, was not an idealistic doting on a beautiful boy, but that Lord Douglas was the more dominant and experienced of the pair, who used to go out hunting together for young boys. Wilde's last days in Paris were not, McKenna shows, miserable and defeated; Paris was for him an idyllic, sensual and intellectual playground free from the narrowness of London. A groundbreaking book on Victorian sexuality, this unique biography reassesses the stereotypical views of Oscar Wilde and thoroughly embraces his sexuality, as Wilde did himself.