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The Marquess of Queensberry: Wilde's Nemesis Hardcover – 26 Mar 2013
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'Stratmann's book is keenly researched, brilliantly challenging and fascinating.' -John Carey, The Sunday Times -- Peter Carey Sunday Times 'A fascinating, challenging defense of the man who caused Oscar Wilde's downfall.'-Sunday Times Sunday Times 'As one reads, with great enjoyment, this impeccably researched study, one is reminded once again of The Picture of Dorian Gray and the words of the painter, Basil Hallward. 'Every portrait that is painted with feeling', he says, 'is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter. The sitter is merely the accident, the occasion. It is not he who is revealed by the painter; it is rather the painter who, on the coloured canvas, reveals himself."-Jonathan Barnes, TLS -- Jonathan Barnes TLS 'Stratmann's rehabilitation in the public consciousness of the person credited with bringing down Oscar Wilde and probably hastening his death is not undertaken lightly, and it is truly fascinating. A portrait of a man 'not easily liked' but admirable in his search his for lost brother does create sympathy and Stratmann's style is both scholarly and accessible.'-Lesley McDowell, The Herald -- Lesley McDowell The Herald "Deft and diligently researched."-D J Taylor, Wall Street Journal (Europe) -- DJ Taylor Wall Street Journal (Europe) "This portrait presents compelling new evidence of Queensbury's humanity."-Kirkus Kirkus Reviews "Enthralling ... Far from evil, Queensbury as Stratmann presents him is definitely sympathetic, perhaps even admirable."-Booklist, starred review Booklist
About the Author
Linda Stratmann is the author of eleven books. She lives in London.
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I deplore the trend of recent years whereby actions and characters in history are judged against current mores and condemned accordingly. Some silly historians are even guilty of this unfortunately. We are all prisoners of the era we live in and Queensbury, although possessing some surprisingly 21st century views (he was branded a crackpot for advocating cremation), was no exception. Wilde was the author of his own downfall and was surprisingly stupid, for a well above average intelligent man, to get involved in a family dispute between Bosie, his spoiled, bitter, and totally selfish lover, and Bosie's father, Queensbury. Queensbury was convinced he'd already lost his eldest son to 'the love that dare not speak its name', resulting in his suicide and he was adamant that Bosie would not go the same way, which he had of course, since his schooldays. Linda Stratman has quite rightly stressed this motive as opposed to the accepted canard that Queensbury was simply a vindictive, crazy oaf hell-bent on destroying Wilde. As Wilde said, "The truth is rarely pure and never simple". If you are interested in all things Wilde you should buy this excellent, and incredibly well researched book.
eccentric character this publication is highly readable and well worth the effort
I suppose the 9th Marquess of Queensbury is remembered nowadays for two things: the rules governing Boxing that bear his name and his part in the downfall of Oscar Wilde.
But as Linda Stratmann points out in her excellent biography, there is much more to the man. The Wilde case necessarily features in the last part of the book, but events are seen from Queensbury's point of view. Stratmann makes clear that homophobia was widespread in the 1890s, so Queensbury's views were no different from the majority of society at that time. She refutes views held by later scholars that Queensbury was solely responsible for Wilde's downfall. He was merely anxious that his son, Lord Alfred Douglas (Bosie), should not meet Wilde and all Queensbury's actions were directed to that end.
We get a fair amount of background on Queensbury's siblings which is right as events in their lives had an effect on the development of his character. They were certainly a troubled, dysfunctional family.
Much has been made of Bosie's claims that his father was mad, but Stratmann refutes these and not just because Bosie was an unreliable witness; many of the judgments on Queensbury by his contemporaries arose from the prejudices of the time.
For instance, Queensbury's views on religion and marriage were regarded as eccentric. His fondness for sorting out problems by using his fists, the use of colourful language in his correspondence - both arose from frustration. This was an energetic man whose sense of his own masculinity was called into question by his impotence; a man who felt that events were out of his control.
A well-written page-turner of a biography. There are copious notes and a bibliography.
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