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"A superb biography...It completely alters our understanding of the classic tale."
--Michael Sheldon, Baltimore Sun
"Intelligent, well-written and always interesting...showcasing some of the most fascinating characters ever to gather on the same stage."
--Margot Peters, The New York Times Book Review
"One of the delights of Belford's work is that it is studded with rapidly drawn and vivid portraits."
--Penelope Mesic, Chicago Tribune
"Belford achieved a goal Count Dracula appreciates. She has restored Bram Stoker to life in the ordinary world."
--Jules Wagman, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Organized and written with formidable intelligence, her interpretation of Dracula [is] threaded skillfully into the narrative of Stoker's life."
--Ian McIntyre, London Times
From the Hardcover edition.
1. Reading Group Guide for OSCAR WILDE, by Barbara Belford
Consider Wilde's strange childhood; his father was an adulterer and accused rapist, his mother was a controversial figure, and his brother was constantly jealous of Oscar's abilities. Where do we see this reflected in his literature?
2. Belford says that homosexuality was an accepted part of English public schools at the time Wilde attended the Portora Royal School. Do you think Wilde first had his first stirrings of homosexuality here?
3. Christ was Wilde's ideal. Where did this fascination with Christ come from? How did it affect his prose and poetry?
4. Consider Wilde's many infatuations with women before he married. Why do you think Wilde felt this way about these women? Why didn't he feel this way about his wife in later years? Also, consider his later infatuations with young men. Did Wilde display the same characteristics in his infatuation with men as compared with his infatuation with women?
5. Consider the critics' reaction to Wilde's first work Poems. Do you believe they were justified? Wilde, who often scoffed at society and other people's thoughts, seemed quite upset about these reviews. What does this say about Wilde and his feelings on his own work?
6. Belford believes Wilde evaded overt homosexual conduct while building his reputation, but soon rejected this deception for a "bolder deception" by insisting on "the freedom of the artist." Some critics disagree with this. What do you think?
7. His writings torn apart by English critics, Wilde's American lecture tour was a success. Considering who his audience was and which cities he visited, why was this?
8.Belford suggests Wilde married for real love, or perhaps what he considered real love. Do you agree?
9. Consider Constance Mary Lloyd. Why did such a talented, well-liked woman fall in love with Wilde? Why do you feel she stayed with him even after his homosexual affairs?
10. Consider his relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas. Why is Wilde so taken by this young man, even after Douglas's family destroys him? Compare this relationship with Wilde's marriage. Are they in any way similar?
11. Why did Wilde insist his career was over after prison?
12. Do you see Wilde's life as a success or a failure, as a whole? If not, what, if any, of Wilde's life was successful, by your standards?
Posted April 23, 2001
Anyone who appreciates the wit and wisdom of Oscar Wilde will have a truly enjoyable experience reading this well-researched biography. Ms. Belford brings to life not only the repressive atmosphere of the late Victorian era, but also the many colorful friends and family members who were part of Wilde's innner circle and helped make him what he was. There was only one Wilde: unique, flawed, tremendously talented, and never at a loss for the hilarious (and often poignant) bon mot. Reading this book made me wish I had known him.
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