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De Profundis and Other Writings (Penguin English Library) Reprint Edition

4 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0140430899
ISBN-10: 014043089X
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Editorial Reviews

Review

'De Profundis' remains Wilde's greatest piece of prose-writing -- Colm Toibin --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin in 1854. After his marriage to Constance Lloyd in 1884, he tried to establish himself as a writer, but with little initial success. However, his three volumes of short fiction, The Happy Prince (1888), Lord Arthur Savile's Crime (1891) and A House of Pomegranates (1891), together with his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), gradually won him a reputation as a modern writer with an original talent, a reputation confirmed and enhanced by the phenomenal success of his Society Comedies -- Lady Windermere's Fan, A Woman of No Importance, An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest, all performed on the West End stage between 1892 and 1895. Success, however, was short-lived. In 1891 Wilde had met and fallen in love with Lord Alfred Douglas. In 1895, when his success as a dramatist was at its height, Wilde brought an unsuccessful libel action against Douglas's father, the Marquess of Queensberry. Wilde lost the case and two trials later was sentenced to two years' imprisonment for acts of gross indecency. As a result of this experience he wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol. He was released from prison in 1897 and went into an immediate self-imposed exile on the Continent. He died in Paris in ignominy in 1900.
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin English Library
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (August 26, 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014043089X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140430899
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #802,024 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Written as a letter to Bosie, De Profundis shows an author at the peak of his powers, yet tragically already fallen. Anger, disgust, revulsion, joy, reflection - in many ways a total separation from the glib and cocky literature that made him famous - the full gamut of a humbled man. Even missing the cheeky humor and quick turn of phrase there is still a solid thread of consistency entombed in De Profundis, that of salvation. From the grace evident in his fairy tales to the recognition of inner justice in Dorian Gray, Wilde flirted with the themes of the Divine and of sacrifice. This is one of the finest, and most powerful, personal essays ever committed to paper. No collection, or indeed beginnings of understanding, of Wilde can possibly be complete without it.
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Format: Paperback
This small book of selected works shows the depths of both Wilde's thought and his suffering, all expressed in effortlessly fluent language.

I came to this book by way of the Wikipedia entry on Wilde, which I consulted after reading his "The Picture of Dorian Gray". I was most intrigued to learn that he had written a long, searching letter while in prison, and was eager to read it. What were the thoughts and feelings of this perceptive man, who had undergone such a severe reversal of fortune?

I was to learn those things, but, being the kind of reader I am, I started this collection of works at the beginning, with Wilde's 1891 essay, "The Soul of Man Under Socialism." Knowing nothing much about Oscar Wilde, I didn't know that he had written about socialism, and was most surprised to discover that he looked forward to the arrival of socialist society as bringing a great advance in individual liberty and personal fulfillment. He regarded the mundane tasks of economic life as dehumanizing, and therefore they were appropriately to be taken on by the state, that its citizens might then enjoy more leisure, which is a prerequisite for civilized life. And how would the state be able to keep its citizens on a living dole? That is, who would be doing all that dehumanizing work? His answer was simple and prescient: machines. The right person to do dehumanizing work is a nonhuman. In this, Wilde was anticipating such thinkers as Adler and Kelso, who also, in their 1958 book "The Capitalist Manifesto," advocate a society whose citizens have been emancipated from toil.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great intro and more insight into this literary, self-destructive but literary genius. A keeper. The only books I own vs. library books - Oscar Wilde.
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