“Genius,” Oscar Wilde after claimed, “exists, maybe not paid.” His limp-lily make of Irish-Oxonian genius has been paid often over, that will be certainly not to say overpaid. In the decades since his death in 1900 (from cerebral meningitis, probably complicated by syphilis), he’s more & more renowned—a state of affairs which he would likely discover amusing.
He generally attracted a great deal of interest, his admirers ranging in level from the King of Wales (later Edward VII) down. But after an occasion, respectable people such as the Henry Adamses regarded it beneath their dignity to talk to him, and Henry John, who realized him, dismissed him as a “tenth-rate cad.” His tomb in a Paris cemetery is thought to bring more pilgrims than Balzac’s or Chopin’s. His name can be as certain of immortality as that of Adams, John, or the Venerable Bede.
The newest to tell the story of the pasty, jowly experience, the disgusting, purplish lips, the fantastic humor, great allure, and great downfall is English Biographer Hesketh Pearson (Conan Doyle, G.B.S., etc.). “In January 1943, I started to Bernard Shaw,” Pearson describes, “that I thought to write a Living of Oscar Wilde.” Shaw replied, “My advice is, very decidedly, Don’t….There’s nothing more to be said.” But Pearson went ahead anyhow, having been interested in the complexities of Wilde’s character. While he had never seen him in the skin, he realized and had talked to numerous of his cronies—including Master Alfred (“Bosie”) Douglas, Frank Harris, and Robert Sherard, all of whom wrote Wilde biographies of these own.
In this, he’s been only partly successful. To relieve Oscar entirely from the pathological fog is significantly more than he or everyone else can do. Oscar’s gay preferences and his literary personality are barely separable, but true it could be that the pure temperature of the one does not account fully for the gentle of the other. Pearson’s details describe very little. He feels that Wilde’s mental nature never developed “beyond adolescence”; thus, Wilde generally stayed “an exceedingly amazing undergraduate, half child, half genius.” Nevertheless, he gives, Wilde was “quite definitely in love” with Constance Lloyd if they married in 1884, and “thrilled” in Cyril and Vyvyan, their two sons, created a couple of years later.* Wilde, moreover, based on Pearson, did not turn into an “exercising” gay till after the children were born. Constance, on her behalf portion, stayed “entirely unaware” of his tendency till he was arrested in 1895.
Soprano Dame Nellie Melba claimed she met Oscar Wilde in the roads of Paris in 1898, shabbily dressed, with a “hunted try looking in his eyes.” Master Carson, his old schoolmate who cross-examined Wilde at his first trial, is described to possess seen him lying “haggard” and “colored” in a Paris gutter. Pearson jokes such reports off. Oscar, he declares, never colored his experience except to edify National audiences during his U.S. lecture tour (1882). As for being cheap, he was “usually well-dressed, well-shaved, self-assured.”
“Everyone,” quipped Wilde in his heyday, “can sympathize with the sufferings of a buddy, but it takes a really fine nature…to sympathize with a friend’s success.” Biographer Pearson’s concern is vast enough to cover both facets of Wilde’s career. He’s picked to pressure Wilde the drawing-room humor, the luxurious fop, the amazing writer of comedies as shining as any ever written for the English period.