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Matthew Sweet

Matthew Sweet was the Independent on Sunday’s film critic.

The life of Oscar Wilde

Matthew Sweet, 5 February 1998

Oscar wilde is one of literature’s most bankable brand-names. As the illustrations in Merlin Holland’s The Wilde Album demonstrate, this was as true in his fin de siècle as in ours. During Wilde’s lifetime, his celebrity was used to sell Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience, Madame Fontaine’s Bosom Beautifier, Straiton and Storm’s cigars and, lastly and mostignominiously, copies of the Illustrated Police Budget. Today, his name is on bookmarks, greeting-cards, T-shirts, posters and album covers. At least five anthologies of his work appeared last October alone. The Telegraph still uses him as sexual deviancy’s whipping-boy (‘his behaviour often hovered dangerously close to being that of a paedophile,’ snorted Christopher Hart on the day Brian Gilbert’s movie Wilde was released).‘

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