Cover: Oscar Wilde: The Unrepentant Years, from Harvard University PressCover: Oscar Wilde in HARDCOVER

Oscar Wilde

The Unrepentant Years

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Product Details


$29.95 • £21.95 • €27.00

ISBN 9780674737945

Publication: October 2017


384 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

13 halftones


[A] detailed and finely judged account of Wilde’s life after prison.—Colm Tóibín, The Guardian

Examines in fascinating detail Wilde’s prison years and the short time that remained to him after he completed his sentence… The clarity of [Frankel’s] prose, his sympathetic approach, and his talent for building tension ensures that his book will appeal to anyone with even a passing knowledge of Wilde’s life.—Eleanor Fitzsimons, The Irish Times

Frankel has written of Wilde’s last years with an illuminating eye, exploring how his release from prison in 1897 and death in Paris in 1900 was the final act in a startling drama: this is the portrait of a man who, through hardship, finally became himself… Frankel is a gifted writer who has taken the facts of Wilde’s final years and transformed them into a compelling exploration of the figure’s heroism.—Thomas Filbin, Arts Fuse

[Frankel] faithfully documents the mercurial nature of Wilde’s post-release emotions, from his conflicting attitude toward Constance; to his unconcerned and inevitable decision to reunite with Douglas. What comes through clearly is Wilde’s unceasing determination to reach for the world he lost…even if much of it remains always only out of reach. If Frankel sought to demonstrate that the post-prison Wilde was not some sorely broken man, forever debilitated, and slouching toward a premature and lonely death, he has succeeded masterfully.—Matthew Snider, PopMatters

Frankel offers a scholarly and generally level-headed account of Wilde’s civil and criminal trials, his imprisonment, his exile in northern France and Italy, and his final squalid end in Paris… The period Frankel particularly wants to unpack is Wilde’s final three years of life following his release. In Richard Ellmann’s acclaimed biography of Wilde this period is given rather short shrift, so Frankel’s book will remain the definitive reference on this era for a long time, particularly on where, when and with whom Wilde spent his final 36 months… [A] compelling book.—Adrian McKinty, The Australian

[A] fair, elegant and informed book.—Douglas Murray, The Times

This biography from Frankel reminds readers that Oscar Wilde was a serious man of ideas, as well as the witty author of The Importance of Being Earnest… Meticulously documented and consistently illuminating, Frankel’s book is also uncommonly accessible.Publishers Weekly

This is the work of a profoundly knowledgeable scholar who has mined his sources carefully and sensitively in order to provide the most detailed insights yet into Wilde’s experiences in prison, the period he spent at Berneval-sur-Mer, when it seemed that he might revive his literary career, and the subsequent months that involved his reunion with Alfred Douglas, their eventual separation, and Wilde’s slow but sure decline.—Joseph Bristow, University of California, Los Angeles

A welcome reassessment of Wilde’s later years. Oscar Wilde is a major critical biography, standing impressively at the intersection of social and intellectual history, publishing history, and literary studies.—Xavier Giudicelli, Université de Reims Champagne Ardenne

Few people are as conversant as Nicholas Frankel with the archival and documentary records pertaining to Wilde’s life and career. A graceful writer with a fine eye for the telling detail, Frankel shows that in the final years of his life Wilde was neither the martyr nor the innocent victim he is usually portrayed as being. Instead, after his release from prison Wilde consciously shaped his life and work—just as he had always done—as a provocation and a rebuke to Victorian pieties and cruelties and hypocrisies.—Stephen Arata, University of Virginia