OSCAR WILDE AND THE YELLOW NINETIES by Frances Winwar
Kirkus Star

OSCAR WILDE AND THE YELLOW NINETIES

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

I think this has the best chance for success of anything she has done since Poor, Splendid Wings (Little, Brown). Frances Winwar has a faculty for recreating her period, and making her characters, -- literary, artistic personalities live and breathe. Here, in all his extravagances, she gives us Oscar Wilde, and somehow, while one comes to jeer one remains to pity. It is a sympathetic portrait, but an objective one, for she does not gloss over his rococo decadence his unsavory inversions, but she appreciates his generosity, his insecurity, his compromising with fate. She recognizes his genius as a bon vivant, his brilliance as raconteur which in the end trips him up; she sees him as a better prose writer and dramatist than poet; she paints him as a product of his times. The backstop, the stage which supports him, includes Ruskin, Pater and Whistler, Lily Langtry, Walt Whitman, Swinburne, Dowson and Beardsley, Frank Harris and Arthur Symons, Andre Gide and Lord Alfred Douglas, whose friendship proved Wilde's downfall. It was a period that bred extravagance, and rarely has it been more vividly portrayed. Frances Winwar has lost none of her dramatic qualities, but she still lacks the virtue of simplicity, and mars her effects with over-freighted sentences, oblique and involved expression.

Pub Date: March 21st, 1940
Publisher: Harper