Andre and Oscar: The Literary Friendship of Andre Gide and Oscar Wilde

Overview

In the Autumn of 1891, Oscar Wilde set about conquering literary Paris. Gide was dazzled by the Irishman's energy and verve, but was driven to the edge of a nervous breakdown by Wilde's merciless paradoxes and questioning of religious faith. The two writers met repeatedly over the next ten years in France, Italy, and North Africa, both before and after Wilde's imprisonment. But by the time Wilde died in Paris in 1900, the tables had been turned. He was impoverished and disgraced, while Gide was well launched on a...

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Overview

In the Autumn of 1891, Oscar Wilde set about conquering literary Paris. Gide was dazzled by the Irishman's energy and verve, but was driven to the edge of a nervous breakdown by Wilde's merciless paradoxes and questioning of religious faith. The two writers met repeatedly over the next ten years in France, Italy, and North Africa, both before and after Wilde's imprisonment. But by the time Wilde died in Paris in 1900, the tables had been turned. He was impoverished and disgraced, while Gide was well launched on a literary career that would make him the most famous French writer of his generation and win him the Nobel Prize. Andre and Oscar charts the stormy emotions of the Gide-Wilde friendship as well as the influence they had on each other. But it also looks at the two men's live through the eyes of their mothers, their wives, and their lovers, documented largely through diaries and letters from the period and illustrated with contemporary photographs. The book also provides an often surprising insight into what W. H. Auden would much later call the "Homintern" - an international network of gay men and their young companions - as well as the moral hypocrisy of the 1890s.

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Editorial Reviews

(London) Independent on Sunday
{Fryer] reveals previously unexplored similarities between [Gide and Wilde]."
Bloomsday (Dublin)
"Andre and Oscar is a portrait of one of the most interesting literary friendships of the last century."
(London) Gay Community News
"Fryer does his job well, bringing these two great writers back to life and depicting the underground elite that breathed and thrived under the Empire's murky skirts."
Daily Telegraph (London)
"Fryer's fluent narrative convingingly presents Wilde as simultaneously a role model and an awful warning to [Gide]."
Kirkus Reviews
Sticking to biographic routes rather than real literary parallels, Fryer ("Dylan: The Nine Lives of Dylan Thomas", 1994) retraces a decade of crossed paths between the notorious playwright and the future Noble Prize winning novelist. They had first met when Wilde was revisiting Paris after boosting his literary reputation with "The Picture of Dorian Gray" and relentless self-promotion. The young salon-hopping Gide, still wrestling with his Protestant upbringing and launching his own career in letters, was fascinated and dazed by Wilde's aesthetic doctrines, decadent paradoxes, and hedonistic habits. Fryer spends little time on their first intellectual exchanges or on those in later encounters, but duly examines the example that Wilde's life held up for Gide. Gide would later cast Wilde as Mephistopheles to his Faust in his novel "Les Nourritures Terrestres", but the francophile Wilde simply enjoyed the younger man's conversation and company (even for teasing). Wilde, however, had already discovered his own homosexual nature, while Gide would only come out to himself when he visited Algiers a few years later. When he encountered Wilde and his young lover, Alfred, Lord Douglas, on a subsequent trip there in 1895, Gide called Wilde in his diary "the most dangerous product of modern civilisation," though this time he was referring to both Wilde's artistic celebrity and his open courting of scandal. The sordid scandal soon broke while Gide was still accompanying Lord Douglas and Wilde was back in London for"The Importance of Being Earnest". The two men of letters would not meet again until after Wilde's release from Reading Gaol, with Wilde more a cautionary case than a role model.Reviewing Wilde's familiar rise and fall from Gide's perspective, Fryer finds a few intersections of the two menþs interests, and biographical similarities in such matters as that each man indirectly injured his wife.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312303877
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/1998
  • Pages: 268
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

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