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The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde

by Neil Mckenna

Neil McKenna argues that our view of Oscar Wilde, even after Ellman's magisterial volume, is determined by Victorian sentimentality. In his own much more modern version of Wilde's story, he is 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 was not an idealistic doting on a beautiful boy, but that Bosie was the more dominant, experienced of the two, 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.

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