Books:4/52. Movies:40/365: Oscar Wilde by Richard Ellman
Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Grey is the reason I started reading (I never cared for literature when I was in school and our English teacher was more interested in telling us about the time he got stabbed at a football match (really!) and arguing about politics than teaching us about literature, we never read any Shakespeare but we watched Romeo and Juliet on DVD so all was well… apparently.) and this book nearly made me loose my mind. Its dense, very vey dense, the font is probably only 8pts and it is nearly 600 pages, if the font was a sensible size it would probably be 1000 pages! It also has about 27 pages of references, Richard Ellman (who was a University professor and died not long after writing this book) seems to be a man possessed, he also presumes that everyone who reads his book can read French, he’s a snob, he has some wild theories (he believes that Oscar Wilde got syphilis off a “lady” at Oxford and treated it with some Victorian potion that destroyed his teeth but never cured his dieses and this was the reason for his death),he just drops some equally wild revelations in there like its nothing (such as that he had a private interview with the pope whilst travelling around Europe & that he was probably addicted to Absinth ), he went into far too much detail about everything including his entire financial history and he puts too much emphasis on his homosexuality (which is an important part of his life but in the early 1890’s he was the most famous man in the world and lived in excess, smoking 100 gold tipped cigarettes a day, he went everywhere by taxi ect but he doesn’t talk about any of that, he just talks about how Bosie and the prostitutes that were blackmailing him ruined his life… for many many pages. Despite all of this, after I read it, I realised that it was the best book that I’ve ever read, before I knew Oscar Wilde for his quotes, a few of his plays, Dorien Grey & the fact that he was gay, now I know all of that in context, I know about his lectures, I know about his poetry, I know about his journalism, I know about his childhood, I know about all the people he inspired, all of pain and the years of financial difficulty, I know about his dad’s pioneering medical research, I know about his wife, know that he was the first editor of the worlds first woman’s magazine “Woman’s Weekly”, I know that he spoke 4/5 (he defiantly knew: English & French and in jail he taught himself Italian & German and he was heavily inspired by Greek so I think he might have spoke that too) languages, I know how cruel Bosie and the rest of the Queensbury family were and a whole load of other stuff that would take days to list. So, if you want to blow peoples minds with your knowledge of Oscar Wilde then you should read it.
P.S.That quote ” I have nothing to declare but my genius” was in reply to a customs officer, when he arrived in America for his lecture tour, asking him “have you anything to declare Mr Wilde”… really.