July 22, 2017

Oscar Wilde by Frank Harris

Oscar Wilde his Life and ConfessionsThe background

Reading the intro I have to say I’m very tempted to find an autobiography of Frank Harris.

He wrote this not completely accurate biography soon after Oscar Wilde’s death. Publishing it himself in New York – for many years its sale in the UK was banned, and very controversial.

However, it was a very honest (for the time) account of Oscar’s life – no stone unturned. But much of it isn’t accurate. Harris wasn’t always there when he says he was, and so there’s some poets license thrown in.

So there’s a pretty good introduction to this edition, AND many letters and other things in the appendix. Including a sketch of Wilde by George Bernard Shaw – added to Harris’ book to try and quell some of the opposition to it.

The main review

I’m sure for a scholar of Wilde this is a fascinating book. But I just couldn’t get into it.

It certainly moves at a pace – takes just 35 pages to get to the end of his time at Oxford. (including his parents lives!). But the style wasn’t for me.

It’s a mix of ¬†other people’s stories told verbatim, with Harris’ memories, sections of prose and remembered conversations. Just not engaging.

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