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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and tragic
Pearce searches for the real Wilde behind his many masks. He writes well and most movingly, with sympathy for this great tragic man.
Wilde is portrayed as a man for whom his art was everything, but led astray by his love of decadence.
This is not the Wilde that is flaunted as a homosexual icon. There is no evidence of him being anything other than heterosexual...
Published on 20 Feb. 2006 by G. J. Weeks

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3.0 out of 5 stars Not Too Wilde About It.
I so wish I liked this book more. There are an extraordinary number of bad books about Oscar Wilde, inevitably offering a single line solution to the enigma of this remarkable man. Anyone who has actually read Wilde's works - and I am sure that many of his biographers have not, although Pearce is a very honourable exception - will know that religion played an enormous...
Published 1 month ago by Jocko


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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and tragic, 20 Feb. 2006
By 
G. J. Weeks (London) - See all my reviews
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Pearce searches for the real Wilde behind his many masks. He writes well and most movingly, with sympathy for this great tragic man.
Wilde is portrayed as a man for whom his art was everything, but led astray by his love of decadence.
This is not the Wilde that is flaunted as a homosexual icon. There is no evidence of him being anything other than heterosexual until after his wfe is pregnant. Homosexuality led Wilde into the folly of sueing the father of his lover for libel. The lost suit led to crimal prosecution and a sentence of hard labour, bancruptcy, loss of wife and sons, ostracism and exile. How pathetic to see the greatest wit and conversatioanlist of the age reduced to scrounging on the streets of Paris.
Pearce gives us much of the wit and poetry of Wilde. He also traces his on and off love affair with Roman Catholicism ending in death bed reception into the Roman Catholic Church. I would agre with Pearce's view that had Wilde sincerely converted in his youth, his story would have been very very different.
As it is, Wilde seems to be to late 19th century literature what Geoge Best was to late 20th century football, the greatest ever waste of a talent.
One very minor criticism. Pearce is wrong to write that William of Orange usurped power in England. James II was removed for his Roman Catholicism and the throne offered to William and Mary.
A great read. Enjoy and weep.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not Too Wilde About It., 4 Jun. 2015
By 
Jocko (Cambridgeshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Unmasking Of Oscar Wilde (Kindle Edition)
I so wish I liked this book more. There are an extraordinary number of bad books about Oscar Wilde, inevitably offering a single line solution to the enigma of this remarkable man. Anyone who has actually read Wilde's works - and I am sure that many of his biographers have not, although Pearce is a very honourable exception - will know that religion played an enormous part in his life. This is routinely ignored by modern biographers, which makes this book all the more important - and disappointing.

Wilde - like his friend Frank Harris - had a profound fascination with the personality of Christ. This was not some casual interest, and his ideas cry out for exploration. Pearce - I think correctly - sees through the masks and mirages modern writers latch onto - the supposed feminism, radicalism, Irish nationalism, syphilis, even homosexuality in the "gay icon" sense. But I felt he never engaged with the underlying Wilde, although making a gallant attempt. Instead we get a rather pallid biography in which the good people are Catholics, the bad people are not and the tone is that of an appalled maiden aunt. This is not without interest. It makes a change to see John Grey and Marc-André Raffalovich depicted as positive figures - but of course they were converts. Even Robbie Ross and Alfred Douglas get an easy ride - but of course they... you guessed it. Incidentally, I have never seen any of Wilde's biographers mention that Ross became a militant atheist, precisely in the Marquis of Queensbury mould, as soon as Catholicism became respectable. The poseur of the pair was not Wilde.

The real problem for me was that Pearce seems to have absolutely no sense of humour. There is never a suggestion that he understands Wilde's irony or Zen-like use of paradox. He takes him at face value as a Very Wicked Man, who might have been a Very Good Man had he only been a Catholic earlier. I have a feeling that deep in his heart, our author would like Wilde to have become Hilaire Belloc. Actually, had he not met Alfred Douglas, I rather think something like that would have happened. One can imagine him living into the '40s, and a fascinating thought it is, but Wilde's significance lies in his terrible mistakes. His flawed, complex humanity is what moves us.

Someone needs to write a book about Oscar Wilde and Jesus. Mr Pearce is quite obviously a Very Good Man of intense faith. I have nothing but admiration for him, but this book is not that book.
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