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Oscar Wilde - The Great Drama of His Life: How His Tragedy Reflected His Personality

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Detailing how, in the 1890s Oscar Wilde enjoyed one of the most high-profile reputations in Britain and yet, virtually overnight, he was plunged into disgrace and ruin, this work discusses the reasons for this extraordinary reversal of fortune. Author Ashley Robins explores Wilde’s motivation in prosecuting the Marquess of Queensberry, and elaborates on the precarious legal situation that effectively quashed any prospect of a withdrawal from the lawsuit without dire consequences. He examines the medical and ...

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Overview

Detailing how, in the 1890s Oscar Wilde enjoyed one of the most high-profile reputations in Britain and yet, virtually overnight, he was plunged into disgrace and ruin, this work discusses the reasons for this extraordinary reversal of fortune. Author Ashley Robins explores Wilde’s motivation in prosecuting the Marquess of Queensberry, and elaborates on the precarious legal situation that effectively quashed any prospect of a withdrawal from the lawsuit without dire consequences. He examines the medical and psychiatric aspects of Wilde’s two-year imprisonment and reveals—for the first time and based on the original Home Office records—the machinations among prison officials and doctors to cover up Wilde’s state of health. Robins details Wilde’s tangled matrimonial affairs during his imprisonment and goes on to disclose the maneuvers adopted by friends to secure his early release, citing hitherto unpublished letters to show that bribery of prison personnel was seriously contemplated. Additionally, the issue of homosexuality is discussed not only in relation to Oscar Wilde but from the broader historical, legal and biological perspective. Finally, Wilde’s personality is assessed using internationally accepted diagnostic criteria; and, in an unusual and innovative experiment, a group of Wildean scholars completed a psychological questionnaire as if they were doing so for Oscar Wilde himself. Drawing on these findings and on his own extensive psychiatric experience, Ashley Robins concludes that Wilde had a disorder of personality that culminated in the final and tragic phase of his life.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Ashley Robins, from his background in medicine and psychiatry, has reviewed the life history of Oscar Wilde, providing new insights into the effects of his imprisonment, his matrimonial situation, and medical problems. Oscar Wilde—The Great Drama of His Life is a welcome and original clinical analysis of Wilde’s personality and behaviour, detailing how these contributed to his downfall.”  —Michael Seeney, deputy chairman, the Oscar Wilde Society

“With its narrow focus on Oscar’s personality, behavior, and adversities, this is a sombre book which inevitably has few glimpses of his wit and his greatness as a writer. That said, it is notably lucid and well-reasoned, carefully and thoroughly researched with valuable extended quotations from unfamiliar original sources, and adds significantly to our understanding of Wilde the man and of important events in his life.”  —Donald Mead, editor, the Wildean, chairman, the Oscar Wilde Society

From the Publisher

“Ashley Robins, from his background in medicine and psychiatry, has reviewed the life history of Oscar Wilde, providing new insights into the effects of his imprisonment, his matrimonial situation, and medical problems. Oscar Wilde—The Great Drama of His Life is a welcome and original clinical analysis of Wilde’s personality and behaviour, detailing how these contributed to his downfall.”  —Michael Seeney, deputy chairman, the Oscar Wilde Society

“With its narrow focus on Oscar’s personality, behavior, and adversities, this is a sombre book which inevitably has few glimpses of his wit and his greatness as a writer. That said, it is notably lucid and well-reasoned, carefully and thoroughly researched with valuable extended quotations from unfamiliar original sources, and adds significantly to our understanding of Wilde the man and of important events in his life.”  —Donald Mead, editor, the Wildean, chairman, the Oscar Wilde Society

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781845195410
  • Publisher: Sussex Academic Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/2012
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Ashley Robins was a senior lecturer in psychiatry and pharmacology at Cape Town University for more than 30 years. He is author of Biological Perspectives on Human Pigmentation.

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