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De Profundis and Other Writings (Penguin English Library) Paperback – August 26, 1976

ISBN-13: 978-0140430899 ISBN-10: 014043089X Edition: Reprint

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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: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #868,602 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Displays the insight, honesty, and unself-conscious style of a great writer."
--W. H. Auden --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

Written from Wilde's prison cell at Reading Gaol to his friend and lover Lord Alfred Douglas, De Profundis explodes the conventions of the traditional love letter and offers a scathing indictment of Douglas's behavior, a mournful elegy for Wilde's own lost greatness, and an impassioned plea for reconciliation. At once a bracingly honest account of ruinous attachment and a profound meditation on human suffering, De Profundis is a classic of gay literature. Richard Ellmann calls De Profundis "a love letter...One of the greatest, and the longest, ever written."


This Modern Library Paperback Classics edition contains newly commissioned notes. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Another wonderful, amazing, and brilliant work by Oscar Wilde!
whj
It is something I think everyone should read, if only for its insight into the human character, particularly that of one under great personal suffering.
Bill R. Moore
It is also a timeless lesson on what can happen when one falls in love with someone who doesn't truly appreciate what they have before them.
bookworm

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 62 people found the following review helpful By A. L. on January 15, 2001
Format: Paperback
I usually avoid reading writers' biographies or letters to their loved ones, especially those published posthumously. I am sure some people dream of the time when their lives are open to scrutiny by legions of readers, when their private confessions are published in neat volumes, and their witty letters to friends have little footnotes explaining the inside-jokes to the uninitiated. But the thought makes me cringe, and in the spirit of the old saying "do onto others", I have never before ventured into someone's exposed private life.
Last summer though, I came across this letter by accident and found myself unable to stop reading it until I was done. The glimpse into someone's vulnerable privacy was intoxicating. Having read (and loved) "The Importance of Being Earnest", "The Ideal Husband", and other light pieces, or even "The Portrait of Dorian Gray"--a more somber but still very controlled story, I was shocked by this letter--tortured by emotion and so uneven--by the same author.
The previous reviewer mentioned that he found the letter somewhat contrived. But the insincerity makes it all the more fascinating ! Not even the insincerity in itself, but the bits where the true emotion bursts through. I could imagine so vividly the great author, the person of wit and fashion, stripped of the glamor, in jail, trying to clear up his name in the public letter to his lover. He starts out with calm and controlled prose, trying to put his Christian-repentance-and-forgiveness scheme on paper... And, I am sure, he believes the things he plans to write. However, as he gets deeper into the narrative, as his pen takes a hold of him, he starts writing what he did not mean--the truth, full of bile and unrequited passion.
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By "goldieboyblue" on January 21, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I agree that this is a book that should be read by all and I do not deny the great emotional intensity with which it is written. For these two reasons and the very nature of the work, it certainly merits a 5 star rating. However, my primary criticism is that I was discomforted with an underlying feeling of insincerity when I read the words Wilde wrote to Douglas. I do believe that the circumstances were as Wilde listed, but I did not feel that Wilde was as forgiving as he depicted himself to be, nor made as independent by the time in prison. I wondered if, after his release, he really was able to be happy without all the pleasures and indulgences he had known in life before his sentence; if his compromised social status was honestly no longer of importance to him. The lesson he claimed in humility were repeatedly contradicted with his own claim to genius and superiority. And though he claimed to have always wanted out of his involvement with Douglas (and I beleive he did) and that he had now found the strength to resist him, I felt quite certain that he wanted nothing more than Douglas' return to him. All of this aside, however, the letter still makes for an interesting study in the human emotion under almost inhumane conditions and should be read for such. Whether his feelings were authentic and carried on into his life, likewise contribute to the intrigue of the expressions. He wrote what he surely believed to be true at the time and that alone is worth the time spent reading it.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 19, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is quite possibly one of the most profound pieces of literature ever written. It is, for those of you who do not know, a letter written from prison to Alfred Douglas. It is all about suffering and how in the end we can but love, like Antigone in Sophocles' play Wilde 'must love not hate'. This really does deserve to be more widely read - very few people I know had heard of it.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Mashka142@aol.com on August 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
De Profundis is truly Oscar Wilde's best work. Written as a letter to Bosie, it contains his thoughts on his past life, his trial, and his future; it is full of intense emotion. If you are really interested in Wilde and his life, read De Profundis, it gives you a complete understanding of the metamorphosis he underwent while in Reading.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Bill R. Moore on May 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
One of the most famous - and infamous - letters in all of literature, De Profundis is a strange little piece of work: either much more than it appears on the surface, or much less. It is something I think everyone should read, if only for its insight into the human character, particularly that of one under great personal suffering. Wilde wrote this extraordinarily long letter from prison to Lord Alfred Douglas, his friend, lover, and the man who - by all accounts - was the reason Wilde was in jail in the first place. Despite repeated assertions in the first few pages alone to the contrary, Wilde seems reluctant to blame himself. He clearly blames Douglas to the hilt, and harbors a certain bitter resentment towards him. And yet... he clearly still hold much dear affection toward - and even loves - Douglas. He still seems to be asking for forgiveness - despite the fact that, by all accounts hardly excluding his own, he was the man wronged. It is quite clear from reading this letter that, desite the view history holds of him, Wilde was clearly a man of very high moral character. Certainly, one would not put Wilde atop a pedastal as the zenith of ethics - he himself says that morals contain "absolutely nothing" for him, and clearly admits - and is proud of - his having lived the high life to the hilt during his youth - but Wilde was a man of principles, and he stuck to those principles to the tragic, bitter end. Perhaps you might say he carried them too far. One gets the sense in reading this letter - or a biography of Wilde - that, not only could he have stopped his immiment imprisonment, but could have severed his ties with Douglas completely - had he wanted to. Apparently, he had his own utterly compelling reasons for not doing so.Read more ›
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