Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Sadness of Wilde

I find myself doing a number of pieces of work having to do with Oscar Wilde at the moment. A figure who I have shied away from reading and learning about in the past because there just seemed to be so much to read and to know. One of the pieces I am working on is Aspects of Wilde, by the much lesser-known 1890s figure, Vincent O'Sullivan.

Whilst reading this I came across a description of Wilde in Paris after his trials and imprisonment which nearly moved me to tears. O'Sullivan first makes sure to tell us that Wilde at that time was not the run-down, utterly tragic and crushed figure that popular talk at the time had him, but he qualifies this with:


"At times indeed his face would be swept with poignant anguish and regret when he had touched upon some subject which brought back upon his heart his past joy and powers, or his hours of agony and humiliation, or the apprehension of his future, which he saw as a mountain-pass under darkling shadows falling ever thicker - becoming in fact, save by miracle, impracticable for him. At such moments he would pass his large hand with a trembling gesture over his face and stretch out his arm as though to ward off the phantom of his destiny."
O'Sullivan, Vincent. Aspects of Wilde. Constable, London, 1936. p. 54

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