December 14, 2018

Foss Publishes Book Review on New Wilde Biography

Professor of English Chris Foss has published a book review of Nicholas Frankel’s critical biography Oscar Wilde: The Unrepentant Years (Harvard University Press) in the most recent number of The Historian.  Foss endorses Frankel’s very readable book as an important revisionist take on Wilde’s life after prison, positing the longstanding insistence upon Wilde’s “decline and martyrdom” misrepresents his actual resilience.  Wilde undeniably struggled with social opprobrium and creative self-doubt, not to mention relative poverty and ill health, but his “frank and unapologetic attitude” toward the openly gay lifestyle he pursued during his final four years shows him to have understood “his erotic relations with other men as a matter of personal identity,” leading Frankel to insist that “Wilde’s greatest achievement in exile was himself.”  With over 13,000 subscribers, The Historian is one of the most widely circulated history journals worldwide.