Oscar Wilde: The Story of an Unhappy Friendship

9781507806807: Oscar Wilde: The Story of an Unhappy Friendship
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Shortly after the death of the unfortunate man who is the hero—if the word is applicable—of Mr. Sherard's "Story of an Unhappy Friendship," we heard his character discussed by a gentleman whose name is as well known in legal as in literary circles. "Was be a knave or a fool?" asked the learned Q.C. and came to the conclusion that he was a mixture of both. Putting his literary qualifications aside, this, we think, though a severe was a tolerably adequate rough résumé of the character of Oscar Wilde. In these pages Mr. Sherard may fairly be said to nothing extenuate nor set down aught in malice. He knew Wilde intimately, and we gather that he considers that, in his early career "under the posturing and the persiflage, under the scented curls and the cynicism," he always had an eye to the main chance, to money, to self-advertisement, to notoriety. "Society must be amazed," he wrote on one occasion to Mr. Sherard, "had my Neronian coiffure has amazed it." There is method in such madness as this and in his bravado, "I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning and took out a comma. In the afternoon—well, I put it back again." On the other hand, strong presumptive proof of Wilde's folly, of his, at any rate, "diluted insanity," to use an apt phrase of Carlyle's, seems to be afforded by his conduct in connection with the legal proceedings in which he became involved, by his extravagance, by his arrogance, and by his laziness. Mr. Sherard's study will be read with attention by all who take an interest in curious human documents. It contains six portraits of Wilde taken at different stages of his career.

Bookseller [1905]

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