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Who Was That Man?: A Present for Mr. Oscar Wilde (Masks) Paperback – August, 1988

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Since the 1960s, when his work gained a new recognition in the literary canon, biographies of Oscar Wilde and critical analysis of his work have become commonplace. While this writing acknowledged the "fact" of Wilde's homosexuality, it did not, for the most part, explore the complexity of the impact it had upon his life and work. This is remedied in Neil Bartlett's Who Was That Man?, which squarely places Wilde in a gay historical context and literary tradition.

Neil Bartlett--an openly gay British novelist, critic and leading innovator on the British stage--has produced the one of the most remarkable books ever written on Wilde. Who Was That Man? is a personal meditation on Wilde's work and the relevance of the artist and playwright in the contemporary world. Bartlett uses his own experience as a gay man to understand Wilde's life and manages--through extensive historical research and evocative language--to make observations and connections and illuminate our understanding of the writer and his place in his own world and ours.

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A passionate attempt to fix what is essential in Oscar Wilde, fraud and martyr -- Adam Mars-Jones

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Product Details

  • Series: Masks
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail; First Edition edition (August 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852421231
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852421236
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,445,348 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A reader on February 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
A gay Londoner of the 80s goes searching for his roots and finds Oscar Wilde, a complex figure early on in the history of the cultural and social construction of twentieth-century homosexuality. If you're interested in Wilde, this is a very good book to read along with Richard Ellman's more standard biography.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By mholesh on June 23, 2008
Format: Paperback
Who was that Man ? is a meditation and celebration of the form and meaning of gay life in London in the 19th century and the 1970s and 80s. Neil Bartlett puts together a collage of thoughts, excerpts and pictures to find the common threads of behavior and the disparate ways of understanding. He analyzes Wilde's work and life to find its relevance and irrelevance to today; the ways in which Wilde's downfall and persecution cast its shadow; the not very hidden subtext of all of Wilde's work that Wilde desperately denied as he fought for his life. Bartlett has ransacked the British Museum Library and the Collected Works of Oscar Wilde to uncover and restore forgotten history. Read together with Richard Ellman's biography and Neil Mc Kenna's Secret Life of Oscar Wilde, this book illuminates and goes far to explain Wilde's intentionally fascinating life and works. But more than that it casts light on the whole swath of gay experience.
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