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The Last Testament of Oscar Wilde Paperback – 28 Jan 1993


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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (28 Jan 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140171118
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140171112
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 434,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Peter Ackroyd is the author of biographies of Dickens, Blake and Thomas More and of the acclaimed non-fiction bestsellers London: The Biography and Thames: Sacred River. Peter Ackroyd is an award-winning novelist, as well as a broadcaster, biographer, poet and historian. He has won the Whitbread Biography Award, the Royal Society of Literature's William Heinemann Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Guardian Fiction Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award and the South Bank Prize for Literature. He holds a CBE for services to literature.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Adi Shtamberger on 21 May 2003
Format: Paperback
Ackroyd succeeds beautifully in capturing the 'Wilde' spirit, and imitates Wilde's special, one-liner way of expression with panache. He provides possible explanations for Wilde's choices in life. Even if not always accurate, they do create a fully blown, life-like character, without going into too much psychologisms. An enjoyable, page-turning read, with tragic undertones - leaves a mellow sadness without sliding to melodrama, and satisfies the fans' constant need to know more about the idolated, often misunderstood, misquoted and simply missed, artist.
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By Jack Wonder on 16 April 2013
Format: Paperback
It is both tragic and comical account of Wilde's last years in Paris. Peter Ackroyd imitates the style of great Oscar to such a degree that the reader sometimes wonders that maybe he is reading some unacknowledged, authentic find. But it's not only about the style; it's also about the nuances of Wilde's paradoxical personality, which combined magnanimity with pettiness, masks and authenticity, brilliance and naivety. Above all, he was a dramatist who treated his own life as if it were a tragedy to be staged: "it is a strange thing, but in all my writing I anticipate my own fate" (p.70). He was his life's most avid spectator. Highly recommended for all Wilde's enthusiasts.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Philip Spires on 18 Jun 2009
Format: Paperback
A journal is being written by a lonely man in a Paris hotel room. It starts, for its sins, on 9 August 1900. There was nothing auspicious about the date, no connection to former grandeur or glory. But there has been a chance encounter, on a rare excursion outdoors, with three young Englishmen. They recognise the journal's author, one Oscar Wilde, and they refer to him as "she". It is an event worth recording, an event that prompts recollection and reflection on a life.

Oscar Wilde's life was lived in public. Through exploration, then success and fame, and finally via notoriety and disgrace the author occupied a public mind. His talent was immense, his desire to exploit it almost single-minded and his success phenomenal. In an era when stardom in the modern sense was being invented, Oscar Wilde played the stage, published, courted society and self-promoted. He pushed at boundaries, sometimes not for reasons of art, but merely because they existed. He was, after all, an outsider, an Irishman of questionable parentage, but dressed elegantly in a frock coat and mingling with the highest.

He thus became a star for a while, a centre of attention, a media figure. This was nothing less than celebrity in the modern sense, except, of course, that in his case there actually was some talent and ability in the equation. He was famous primarily for what he did, not for whom he became. But then there was a change. The fame was rendered infamy by publicity he could no longer control. And that downfall killed him. A final journal entry on 30 November 1900, recorded from the author's mumblings by a friend, Maurice Gilbert, records the event. Oscar Wilde had fallen while in prison, and had sustained an injury to an ear, an injury that festered.
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10 of 16 people found the following review helpful By lissiew@yahoo.com on 19 Oct 1999
Format: Paperback
Peter Ackroyd first came to my attention when I was a young student at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa. I was a first year English student, trying to aquaint myself with "The Masters", ransacking Library shelves and devouring whatever I could get my hands and eyes on. Figuritively stuffing my head and just when I thought I could make no sense I find Peter and "Last Will". I fell in love, I danced and ate and drank and spoke "Oscar" until the book was tired of me and wanted to rent me out! Oscar became my friend, my mentor and utlimately the enlightener. For this I thank Peter, thank him for making Oscar real in an amazing, romantic and comical way. Nobody on this earth made me plunge so excitedly into my own imagination and come out of it wanting so much more. Sadly my copy of "Last Will" wandered and as I grew older (well 28 now) my life twisting and zig-zagging I forgot. But now the journey back is going to be a bit different for me, sentimental. I only wish this book in hardcover so I could pass it over many hands and eyes....... ALL WILDE PEOPLE MUST READ THIS......
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3 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Lisette on 20 Sep 2003
Format: Paperback
It is not hard to mirander through time with the gracefulness of Mr Ackroyds words. It as if it is not his words but the words that should be written through past ghosts, as if his fingers type or write without any provocation, a sensual touch of flighty fingers working straight without a preconcieved notion, just flying through thoughts and memories like a free bird. Mr Ackroyd, I adore your works, you make me admire!
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