Viewport width =
March 15, 2004 | by  | in Books |
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter

The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde

First of all, don’t read this book unless you are VERY interested in the life of Oscar Wilde. This is a painfully detailed, step by tiny step account of Wilde’s adult life, and fascinating though it surely was, Neil Mckenna’s biography just goes on and on. Parts of it are also frustrating and unconvincing as they contain a few too many “probablys” and “most likelys” giving the book a speculative and at times gossipy feel to it.

On the bright side it does contain a lot of sex. I don’t just say that because I personally am some kind of nymphomaniacal sex fiend, but because it really was the only interesting side of the story. However, by the end, even the sex was exhausted and I had truly had enough of sodomy.

Wilde was, as Mckenna has led me to believe, quite a slut. All well and good, unless you happen to be a homosexual in the 19th Century. The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde shows how society viewed and reacted to homosexuality back then. It was regarded by many as a crime worse than murder, and was punishable with life imprisonment. To create a cover many men would marry and have families, keeping their true loves hidden behind this social requirement for normalcy. Wilde did exactly this but to no avail, and ended up ruining the lives of his family in the process as well as his own.

The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde offers insights into some of his works, the truths behind the stories and poems and who he based some of his characters on, which is interesting and makes it almost worthwhile. Mostly, it seems, they were to do with sex. Mckenna believes that Wilde was a man motivated in all aspects of his life by his sexual desires (not something completely unheard of), and that to truly understand his works you must appreciate his sexuality.

The biography is also an excellent historical depiction of homosexuality. It shows how ideas that seem absurd and barbaric to most of us nowadays were the undisputed norm only a century ago. It’s quite scary really and does make you think. So good on Mckenna for getting it out there, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. For the persistent only.

Neil Mckenna
Random House

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter

About the Author ()

Comments are closed.

Recent posts

  1. Cuttin’ it with with Miss June
  2. SWAT
  3. Ravished by the Living Embodiment of All Our University Woes
  4. New Zealand’s First Rainbow Crossing is Here (and Queer)
  5. Chloe Has a Yarn About Mental Health
  6. “Stick with Vic” Makes “Insulting” and “Upsetting” Comments
  7. Presidential Address
  8. Final Review
  9. Tears Fall, and Sea Levels Rise
  10. It’s Fall in my Heart

Editor's Pick

This Ain’t a Scene it’s a Goddamned Arm Wrestle

: Interior – Industrial Soviet Beerhall – Night It was late November and cold as hell when I stumbled into the Zhiguli Beer Hall. I was in Moscow, about to take the trans-Mongolian rail line to Beijing, and after finding someone in my hostel who could speak English, had decided