I’ve just started re-reading a book, Oscar Wilde: His Life and Wit from 1946 by Hesketh Pearson, that I didn’t finish previously because it fell apart (literally—its binding came undone and it’s now a six-piece book), and I didn’t want to damage it further. But the call of the Wilde (oops :)) has proven too much: I must find out what happened to him!
I’m only a prologue in, but I’m already having a great time once again.
The book was published, forty-six years after Wilde’s death, by a man who interviewed friends of the great wit (“Oscar,” to us) who, in turn, could remember specific conversations with the hero of the phrase:
“[I find] that alcohol, taken in sufficient quantities, can produce all the effects of intoxication.”
Wow: it’s intoxicating to be reading the second-hand account of real-life interactions with such a significant conversational figure. Indeed, many situations and anecdotes that provoked some of Oscar’s great lines are provided. (I recall from my previous reading of this book that I will get to learn the provocation for Oscar’s, “I have nothing to declare except my genius.” I assure you that the moment I re-discover it, SethBlogs will be the second to know.)
But the book is not just great because of Oscar Wilde: his story is told by Mr. Pearson with charm and wit deserving of his subject. Consider his description of Oscar Wilde’s father, and lady-charmer, Dr. William Wilde:
“He was taken up by society and especially liked by women, which pleased him well… But accidents will happen, even to doctors, and in due course several children appeared without the advantage of their father’s name.”
I’ll keep you posted on this developing story.