Bosie: Biography of Lord Alfred Douglas Hardcover – 1 Jun 2000
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There is a vogue these days for biographies of minor, peripheral characters who lived on the margins of literary greatness: Tennyson's wife, for instance, or Dickens' mistress. This new biography of Lord Alfred Douglas, the son of the Marquess of Queensbury and, most scandalously, the lover of Oscar Wilde, has attracted huge attention because of the age of the biographer. Douglas Murray began writing it at 17, and he is only 20 now. It is an astonishing achievement: mature, considered, fluently written and richly detailed. Bosie's youth was the epitome of the 1890s,"greenery-yallery" decadence, but unlike his lover and mentor, the brilliant, doomed Wilde, Bosie lived on until 1945, becoming increasingly religious, repentant about his past (as Wilde never was), and finally a recluse. On one key issue, however, Murray seems seriously off-message: he argues that Bosie was a major literary figure in his own right, and that the value of his poetry has been seriously underrated. "He was a poet not just of the 90s but one who would endure the 20th century and produce a poem that would echo as a work of searing faith and a testament to spiritual renewal." Er ... no. The poem Murray alludes to is "In Excelsis", Bosie's riposte to Wilde's work "De Profundis". But it is tiresomely self-absorbed, antiquated, and unimaginative, a prolonged whinge about the lot of the misunderstood genius. Nevertheless, Bosie's story is still worth telling, even if his poetic reputation is not worth defending, and Murray tells it extremely well. --Christopher Hart
'A precocious feat by almost any standards...An excellent piece of work, intelligent and well-rounded' -- Sunday Telegraph
'Douglas Murray is a remarkable young writer with a confident style' -- Sunday Telegraph
'Murray's book does a fine job of putting an irksome and faded legendary boy to bed.' -- Observer
'One of the most impressive biographical debuts for some time...It comes across as entirely fresh' Humphrey Carpenter - -- Sunday Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
A great read.
Bosie is oft portrayed as a frivolous, insensitive young man whose actions lead to Wilde's incarceration and consequent poverty and demise. Born into an ancient, highly influential family stained by occurrences of self-destructive insanity, Bosie was a charming, intelligent and exceptionally handsome man- and unfortunately, snotty, unstable and quick tempered - one who was born with a silver spoon and uses it detrimentally in the wild rage of someone who has everything and has nothing to lose. As a poet (Murray provides snippets of Douglas' poetry) and an editor, his tactlessness aided in creating enemies, often by trusting people too much. Ironically, Bosie ends up behaving like his resentful father (the Marquess of Queensberry) and the legal feuds (he often overlooked that society had not forgotten the Wilde affair) ensures the steady dwindling of family fortunes. Ever since Wilde's trial, Bosie repeats the same pattern- suing, being sued, bankruptcy, imprisonment and sabotaging his prospects. At Wormwood Scrubs, he realises the extent of Wilde's misery during incarceration and writes a fine poetic work. He emerges humbled and broken, reminiscing about his youth and with very few friends (he often couldn't fathom the desertion by his friends): a pitiful poverty-stricken shadow of that exuberant and arrogant man for whom the world used to be an oyster.Read more ›