De Profundis and Other Writings (Penguin English Library)

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9780140430899: De Profundis and Other Writings (Penguin English Library)

'I have nothing to declare,' Wilde once told an American customs official, 'except my genius.' A good part of that genius is evident in the essays and poems included in this volume. There is the intellectual genius of "The Soul of Man under Socialism", in which he clearly foresaw the dangers of economic bureaucracy and state-worship: for Wilde, socialism meant liberation and individuality, not enslavement. Then there is the emotional genius of "De Profundis", the long, introspective and often hostile letter he addressed to Lord Alfred Douglas from prison. And there is the poetical genius of "The Ballad of Reading Gaol", in which Wilde's generous nature could movingly express for another's misery the sorrow he found it hard to express for his own. This collection contains, too, many examples of that humorous and epigrammic genius which captured the London theatre and which, by suddenly casting light from an unexpected angle, widened the bounds of truth.

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From the Inside Flap:

Written from Wilde's prison cell at Reading Gaol to his friend and lover Lord Alfred Douglas, De Profundis explodes the conventions of the traditional love letter and offers a scathing indictment of Douglas's behavior, a mournful elegy for Wilde's own lost greatness, and an impassioned plea for reconciliation. At once a bracingly honest account of ruinous attachment and a profound meditation on human suffering, De Profundis is a classic of gay literature. Richard Ellmann calls De Profundis "a love letter...One of the greatest, and the longest, ever written."


This Modern Library Paperback Classics edition contains newly commissioned notes.

From the Back Cover:

"Displays the insight, honesty, and unself-conscious style of a great writer."
--W. H. Auden

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