Outside Swan and Edgar’s

Matthew Sweet

  • The Wilde Album by Merlin Holland
    Fourth Estate, 192 pp, £12.99, October 1997, ISBN 1 85702 782 5
  • Cosmopolitan Criticism: Oscar Wilde’s Philosophy of Art by Julia Prewitt Brown
    Virginia, 157 pp, US $30.00, September 1997, ISBN 0 08 139172 2
  • The Cambridge Companion to Oscar Wilde edited by Peter Raby
    Cambridge, 307 pp, £37.50, October 1997, ISBN 0 521 47471 X
  • Wilde The Novel by Stefan Rudnicki
    Orion, 215 pp, £5.99, October 1997, ISBN 0 7528 1160 6
  • Oscar Wilde by Frank Harris
    Robinson, 358 pp, £7.99, October 1997, ISBN 1 85487 126 9
  • Moab is my Washpot by Stephen Fry
    Hutchinson, 343 pp, £16.99, October 1997, ISBN 0 09 180161 3
  • Nothing … except My Genius by Oscar Wilde
    Penguin, 82 pp, £2.99, October 1997, ISBN 0 14 043693 6

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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