About This Book
This volume presents for the first time the complete textual history of one of the most famous love letters ever written. Addressed to Wilde's lover, Lord Alfred Douglas, and composed in Reading Gaol, it was later given the title 'De Profundis' by Wilde's friend and literary executor, RobertRoss. It was Ross's severely abridged and sanitized version, published in 1905 and again 1908, which inaugurated the tradition of seeing De Profundis as the apologia pro sua vita of a broken man. This edition takes account of this complex heritage by arguing that Wilde's prison document may be seennot just as the basis of a letter (a typed copy of which may have been sent to Douglas) but also as an unfinished literary work which he intended for public consumption at some future date. Such a case is made by placing in the public domain, often for the first time, a number of different works,derived from different texts, each of which bears witness to Wilde's multiple intentions for his prison document. These texts comprise: the manuscript held in the British Library; the version of Wilde's letter published by his son, Vyvyan Holland, from a typescript bequeathed to him by Robert Ross;hitherto unpublished witnesses to that typescript; and Ross's editions, collated with each other. The commentary to this edition - again for the first time - sets Wilde's story of his own life in 'De Profundis' against the testimony of other players in his drama, including, most importantly, that ofDouglas. In so doing it exposes the partial nature of Wilde's narrative, as well as the personal obsessions which animated it. The commentary also demonstrates a hitherto unnoticed element of Wilde's work, the extent and nature of its richly layered intertextuality and its similarity, in itscompositional practices, to many of his earlier works.
Access to over 1 million titles for a fair monthly price.
Study more efficiently using our study tools.