Declaring His Genius: Oscar Wilde in North America

Jr. Belknap: Harvard Univ. 2013. 260p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780674066960. $26.95. LIT
Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta Patience (1881) satirized the aesthetic movement for which Oscar Wilde, fresh out of Oxford, was already a kind of poster boy. Wilde's North American tour of 1882, ostensibly organized to promote Patience, was a significant event of popular culture in the late 19th century and certainly one of the most controversial. Wherever Wilde went—and he went everywhere in the United States and eastern Canada from New York to Utah mining camps and beyond—newspapers covered his lectures and appearances, sometimes praising his ideas but more often making fun of him and his mannerisms. It's a well-recorded part of Wilde's life, before he moved on to playwriting and literary fame, but Morris, an independent scholar, tells the story with verve. It is difficult not to be amused by Wilde's encounter with the ebullient Leadville miners or the dour Jefferson Davis.
VERDICT While this title does not offer much new for Wildeans, it is delightful and in depth. Recommended both for those new to Wilde, and for his well-informed fans.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing