The Wilde We Want To See

Kate Hext at the TLS:

Each critic sees him- or herself in Oscar Wilde. Saint Oscar; Wilde the Irishman; Wilde the wit. The classicist; the socialist; the martyr for gay rights. “To be premature is to be perfect”, Wilde wrote; “History lives through its anachronisms.” It is in large part on this quality that the Wilde industry has been built. For an industry it certainly is. Books on Wilde are glamorous in a way that academic monographs seldom are. They come with beautiful artwork and endorsements by Stephen Fry. They lend themselves to the crossover market, eminently desirable to publishers as monograph sales dwindle. At their zenith, they beget publicity tours and a spot on a Waterstones table. In a world where most of us academics regularly spend weeks preparing a conference paper to deliver before an audience of a dozen, this is stardom.

more here.