The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde

I have put my genius into my life but only my talent into my work.So said Oscar Wilde of his remarkable life a life complex, erotic, troubled and triumphant than any of his contemporaries ever knew or suspected.Neil McKenna s The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde charts fully for the first time Oscar s astonishing erotic odyssey through Victorian London s I have put my genius into my life but only my talent into my work.So said Oscar Wilde of his remarkable life a life complex, erotic, troubled and triumphant than any of his contemporaries ever knew or suspected.Neil McKenna s The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde charts fully for the first time Oscar s astonishing erotic odyssey through Victorian London s sexual underworld Oscar Wilde emerges as a man driven personally and creatively by his powerful desires for sex with men, and Neil McKenna argues compellingly and convincingly that Oscar s Wilde s life and work can only be fully understood and appreciated in terms of his sexuality.The book draws of a vast range of sources, many of them previously unpublished, and includes startling new material like the statements made to the police by the male prostitutes and blackmailers ranged against Oscar Wilde at his trial which have been lost for over a century.Dazzlingly written, The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde meticulously and brilliantly reconstructs Oscar Wilde s emotional and sexual life, painting an astonishingly frank and vivid portrait of a troubled genius who chose to martyr himself for the cause of love between men.
The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde I have put my genius into my life but only my talent into my work So said Oscar Wilde of his remarkable life a life complex erotic troubled and triumphant than any of his contemporaries ever knew or

  • Title: The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde
  • Author: Neil McKenna
  • ISBN: 9780099415459
  • Page: 238
  • Format: Paperback
  • 1 thought on “The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde”

    1. A bit of a slog, to be honest. I love Oscar's writing, but if this book is any indication, wouldn't have cared for him as an individual. It suffers from two major flaws: firstly, repetition (yes, he was a habitual user of Oxonian undergraduates and renters, we've got the message) and secondly, blithe acceptance of unacceptable behaviour. I realise it's a mistake to judge by our standards, but I found Oscar's cold hearted neglect of his wife and family unforgivable. McKenna also seems to be dazzl [...]

    2. So. This is exactly the biography of Oscar Wilde I would write if I were to uh, write one. It focuses on the important questions like, "Whom did he have sex with, maybe?" and "Whom did his friends have sex with, maybe?" No matter if in answering these questions he uses the most questionable sources, for example Trelawny Backhouse, who in addition to claiming all sorts of salacious things about Oscar Wilde and Bosie also claimed to have had sex with the Empress of China. Frankly, if there was any [...]

    3. Neil McKenna presents us with a quite different view of Oscar Wilde, concentrating on Wilde's astonishing erotic odyssey through Victorian London's (and elsewhere) erotic underworld. It is truly a tour de force, drawing on a wide range of sources, many of them previously unpublished (perhaps not surprisingly!).It all begins so sedately, even though, as the author points out, 'There was something different, even remarkable about Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde when he arrived at Magdalen Col [...]

    4. I read this book less for Oscar (okay, I like him, reasonably), more for the general picture of the Victorian morality & sexuality, and of the murky underworld, without which the existence of Oscar et cohortes would have been very hard indeed. No disappointment here. The “secret life” of the title is of course sexual life, and the author tries to upturn every stone imaginable to find some evidence of yet another of Oscar’s sexual conquests – and if there are no stones, he’ll sure p [...]

    5. Irrefutable evidence Wilde was a lover of boys.Thoroughly researched, well written and gripping, this account of Wilde’s sex life is full of fascinating revelations. It is astonishing that so much new information essential to our understanding of him should emerge more than a century after his death. I feel bound to devote most of this review to explaining a serious flaw, so I should first stress that it is a good book, very well worth reading.Its most obvious weakness is being overdone in ter [...]

    6. It is quite difficult for me to make out which parts of this biography are facts, and which are one-line historical records enlarged to full-blown scenes by McKenna's prurient pen. I like that this biography seeks to do away with the vision that Wilde was a bisexual family man who only occasionally was attracted to men. That portrayal appears to exist only so that Wilde can keep appealing to the straight and narrow. Wilde was a man who was exclusively attracted to men, and in seeking to prove hi [...]

    7. This is riveting and heartbreaking biography of the wonderfully talented Oscar Wilde that tells all about the writer's life in a vivid way. At the heart of the book is the trial that broke down Wilde and ended up in his outrageous incarceration. McKenna has left no stone unturned, and you almost feel, reading those pages, as if he was not only in the courtroom, but also in Wilde's bedroom, in his friends and nemesis' houses, in the cell where he was locked down. That, of course, makes for a fasc [...]

    8. What a read! The authentic flavour of the fin de siecle world - at once both thrilling and appalling - and a chance to learn some picturesque period euphemisms such as 'like a hyacinth', irrumination, pollution labiale, pedicatio, coitus inter crura (Latin is such a useful language!), to quote but a few.! Also a good summary of the Cleveland Street scandal. And at the end of it all is the inevitable inference that, whatever the mess, the English ruling classes have always closed ranks to look af [...]

    9. McKenna is trying to redress what he might be correct in seeing as our blinkered view of Wilde's sexuality and its role in his life and writing. But in doing so he has painted Wilde more as a homosexual campaigner who every now and then put something down on paper, rather than the writer, wit, poet, playwright, lover, husband, father and man that he was. In trying to expand and alter our view on Wilde, he seems to have narrowed it.There is interesting material in here, and he certainly examines [...]

    10. Being a fan of Oscar Wilde, I was excited to start reading this book. It was great at first, but just became a bit repetitive and slow as it went on. The same ideas, quotes and scenarios were repeated and it just felt longer than it needed to be. I did enjoy the insight on some hidden and some not so hidden "Uranian" themes in his poetry and other writings. As another reviewer stated before, my favorite part of this book was the analysis of Wilde's literary works. At the end, it was a bit of a d [...]

    11. This is a wonderful biography of Oscar Wilde and really captures his tortured commitment to his lifestyle: tortured by his love for Constance and more awfully by the marquis of Queensbury. His determined commitment to his lifestyle as recounted by McKenna demonstrates how Wilde Politicised the personal and was probably the first to blaze a gay pride trail. The book is witty and erudite and captures the tragedy that was Oscar's trial in the dock. Read it and respect this legend.

    12. A fascinating look at the social climate of Oscar Wilde's time, when you could actually get imprisoned for being homosexual. It describes the rise and fall of one of the world's wittiest writers from an angle that the other biographies tend to skim over and it shows another, much more vulnerable side to this formidable man. It took me a lot shorter than i expected to get through this one!

    13. A highly readable biography of the man and writer which puts his sexuality centre stage - which is essentially what the man himself did! Other - more 'authoritative' biographies like Rich Ellmann's - tend to gloss over Wilde's sexuality. There is an occasional tendency to speculate but this is an essential book on Wilde.

    14. The Secret Life Of Oscar WildeI want to start this review by saying that I loved this book. I think it's a wonderful biography of an exceptionally talented man, written by someone who not only did his research but also infused every word with that particular sense of excitement that takes hold of both writer and reader while they're immersing themselves in something - or in this case someone - they profoundly adore. I enjoyed the excerpts taken from the letters Oscar's many lovers wrote to him i [...]

    15. Dar viena knyga apie dar vieną garsią asmenybę, pavadinimas skamba ironiškai, nes perskaičius ją, jo gyvenimas tikrai neatrodo slaptas. Kitą kartą preiš pradedant skaityti tokio storio knygą apie kažkokią asmenybę stipriai pagalvosiu ar aš noriu apie ją žinoti TIEK . Apie ką ši knyga apart Oscaro vardo pavadinime nelabai žinojau, bet tai buvo ne visai tai ko tikėjausi. Aš joje ieškojau daugiau jo visapusiškesnės biografijos, o gavau 700psl informacijos apie jo asmeninį g [...]

    16. This man was a true hero and the book shows us a brave lamb to the slaughter. It reveals the secret gay world of Victorian London in vivid detail. Unputdownable.

    17. The book lacks evidence and credible references to back its info. A biography should not speculate. I'm stopping halfway. Don't recommend it at allIt's a big fat waste of time

    18. Entertaining and reminiscent of a tell-all biography of a modern rock star. Wilde himself comes across as the rock star of his era surrounded by groupies. In many ways it is more a history of the underground culture of men who loved men, especially those of an artistic bent who surrounded Wilde, than a straightforward biography. At times it goes off on great tangents on history not related directly to the main characters. McKenna knows the cultural context well. As biography it speculates wildly [...]

    19. Author Neil McKenna illustrates the brilliant Victorian artist unconditionally and divulges the aft shaded truths of Wilde's life that helped to sculpt his art. Through rigorous, painstaking research, obvious passion, uncensored truth, possible reverence and beautiful storytelling, McKenna makes an authentic, human portrait of an literary and cultural icon. His historical compilation and connections bring brilliant new definition to Wilde's art as well as his impact. The Secret Life of Oscar Wil [...]

    20. All about the infamous Oscar Wilde and the trial that led to his imprisonment. He wasn't quite as blameless as one might think. The romance with Lord Douglas was not the reason he was imprisoned. In fact it was never even mentioned in the trial. It was his encounters with dozens, perhaps hundreds, of 'rent boys' between the ages of 14-17 that got him in trouble. Ironically it was not statutory rape, nor prostitution, that was Wilde's legal problem, but sodomy. Nonetheless he was kind to these un [...]

    21. This is, without a doubt, my favourite biography. Someone (whose name I really should remember) once said that biographies of an author should enhance your reading of their works. This has not just enhanced my reading of Wilde, but revolutionised it. It is hard to underestimate the importance of McKenna's meticulous research.It is not just Wilde's life that makes this book so interesting (as fascinating as it was) but McKenna's exploration of the homosexual community in Victorian London. Some of [...]

    22. I love Oscar Wilde. His plays, his writings, his epigramse self proclaimed Lord of Language's wit dazzles and delights more than a century after his death. So I expected to enjoy this book. I expected to be amused and entertained and maybe even enthralled by this book, but I didn't expect it to be heartbreakingly beautiful in sections. That I would sit there, staring at the page with tears in my eyes, completely overcome by the transcending power of Love. A beautiful, surprising, and above all, [...]

    23. I loved this book. I had really no idea all that Oscar Wilde went through in his life, and it was both beautiful and tragic to see his great triumphs and the eventual tragedy of his life. And inspiration, to be sure, but it is good to learn from his mistakes as well. There is such a thing as being too sure of oneself. His love affair with Bosie is detailed in this book and is extremely beautiful, but it's really too bad that Bosie denied ever having loved Oscar later. Oscar Wilde took hedonism t [...]

    24. A very critical look at Oscar Wilde's life, while still written with affection to his works. Makes watching Mike Tyson Mysteries weird now that I know the Marquis of Queensbury was an asshole who ruined Oscar's life.

    25. This book was hard going at times due to the subject matter, but definitely worthwhile. The book is detailed (some details are hard to read) but McKennna has organized the subject matter in such a way that the trial - and events leading up to it - make sense. I almost put it aside because of the content (Oscar wasn't the nicest guy) but am so glad I finished it. Not for everybody, but I enjoyed it.

    26. This is the best biography of Wilde I have read. Less subjective than Harris',yet much more fascinating than others McKenna weaves Oscar's poems and other works through the book showing how his sexuality, passions and character went into his work. McKenna has had access to some very personal letters and documents and at no time do you doubt that is a factual account of his life and feelings with so much evidence to support it. A very enjoyable read and in fact, a page turner

    27. I liked this book, though at some points, I was wondering what was going on because the narration was going off into a tangent. This book gives light to the secrecy of the "love that dare not speak its name", as well as going more in depth to Oscar Wilde's life, as well as the lives of his lovers. I found this book highly interesting, and recommend it to anyone who is a fan of Oscar, or wants to know more about his life and the time period he was in.

    28. Interesting work which focuses on Wilde's feelings more than on his literary career. As ever, you may not like the man but you may like the work, or vice versa. In this case, I have happened to like the man: he chose to live as freely as he could given his circumstances. My only criticism is the way he treated his wife and children; he did not have to marry, but once he did, I think he should have behaved otherwise with his family.Great reading, anyway.

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