More Letters of Oscar Wilde by Rupert Hart-Davis (ed) - review by Jonathan Keates

Jonathan Keates

Suburban Decadence

More Letters of Oscar Wilde

By

John Murray 215pp £12.50 order from our bookshop
 

Apart from the inevitable Shakespeare, Byron and Walter Scott, only one other British writer has really made it in Europe, and that of course is Oscar Wilde. His name has acquired a totemic importance among those whose knowledge of English literature is otherwise inconsiderable. He is represented not simply as the homosexual protomartyr but as a figure whose very existence was essential to the establishment of a modern movement in art.

It may be also that he is one of those authors whose work actually improves in translation. Salome, which in English is enough to reduce a modern audience to tears of laughter, apparently sounds pretty well in its original jewelled Parnassian French (with which Wilde was substantially assisted by the

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