Of course, from one point of view, I know that on the day of my release I will merely be moving from one prison into another, and there are times when the whole world seems to be no larger than my cell, and as full of terror for me.
Still at the beginning I believe that God made a world for each separate man, and within that world, which is within us, one should seek to live. According to Kiberd, Wilde follows Christ's individualist theme of self-perfection into a testing new zone: prison. Wilde, who had always looked to test English society's hypocrisies, declined the opportunity to flee to France. The manuscript comprised eighty close-written pages on twenty folio sheets of thin blue prison paper.
Ross was instructed to make two typed copies, one for Wilde himself, and to send the original to Lord Alfred. However, fearing that Douglas would destroy the original, Ross sent him a copy instead Douglas said at the Ransome libel trial that he burnt the copy he was sent without reading it. In , Wilde's contemporary translator to German, Max Meyerfeld, published the first book edition with Samuel Fischer in Berlin which was preceded by a publication in Fischer's monthly magazine Neue Rundschau Vol.
The book appeared on 11 February and hence preceded the English edition by Ross by about two weeks. Ross published the letter with the title " De Profundis ", expurgating all references to the Queensberry family. This edition would go through eight printings in the next three years, including de luxe editions. In , when Lord Alfred served six months in prison for libel against Winston Churchill , he wrote a sonnet sequence entitled In Excelsis "from the heights" , intentionally mirroring Wilde's letter. A second, slightly expanded, version of De Profundis appeared in the edition of Collected Works of Wilde published by Ross between and Also included were three other letters Wilde wrote from Reading Prison and his two letters to the editor of the Daily Chronicle written after his release.
The manuscript is now in the British Library. In the unabridged text was read in court. In Arthur Ransome had published Oscar Wilde: a critical study.
Douglas sued Ransome for libel, and the case went to the High Court in April While the full text "was so inconsistent as to be quite unreliable as evidence of anything except Wilde's fluctuating state of mind while in prison He later said that he had never received the package at all. Once during the reading he simply disappeared, and was roundly rebuked by the judge.
It contained about half of the complete text. In , Wilde's son Vyvyan Holland published the full text, but used a faulty typescript bequeathed to him by Ross. Ross's typescripts had contained several hundred errors, including typist's mistakes, his own emendations, and other omissions. In , Rupert Hart-Davis examined the manuscript in the library of the British Museum, and produced a new, corrected text from it, which was published in The Letters of Oscar Wilde in He wrote that:.
In July Ruth and I had the excitement of being the first people to see the original manuscript of Oscar's longest, best, and most important letter De Profundis , which had been given to the British Museum by Robbie Ross with a fifty-year ban on anyone's seeing it, so as to make sure Lord Alfred Douglas never saw it. To our delight, we found that the published versions were wildly inaccurate, so our version in The Letters was the first accurate text in print.
The Hart-Davis edition is currently still in print in the expanded version of the book titled The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde , which was published in New York and London in The British Library formerly British Museum published a facsimile of the original manuscript in In this volume, entitled De Profundis; 'Epistola: In Carcere et Vinculis' , editor Ian Small tried "to establish an authoritative and perhaps definitive text" of Wilde's prison letter. The volume also aimed to "present the complete textual history of one of the most famous love letters ever written".
There has been some reordering and the omission of words, here included in square brackets". German academic Horst Schroeder has, however, compared the previously published typescripts of the De Profundis text to German-language translations that were published in the first quarter of the 20th century and were prepared by Max Meyerfeld from typescripts he had received from Robert Ross.
Based on his findings, Schroeder argues that, due to the large amount of typing errors and unauthorised changes, no previously published typescript of the text including the Holland edition is suitable as a base text and that only the British Museum manuscript i. Because of its posthumous publication in and the many changes to copyright law since then, the copyright of the full original text of De Profundis the Hart-Davis edition has had a very different history in different countries.
Street, who had earlier been an intellectual opponent of the decadents , had two impressions of De Profundis : one, "that it was poignantly touching, the other it was extraordinarily and profoundly interesting". He described the writing in De Profundis as having achieved the perfect grace of Wilde's earlier work, and said that Wilde had remained a detached artist of words, concluding: "We see him here as the spectator of his own tragedy.
His tragedy was great. It is one of the tragedies that will always live on in romantic history. Crosland , a journalist and friend of Douglas after Wilde's death, negatively reviewed De Profundis in It was revived in An abridged version was set for speaking pianist by composer Frederic Rzewski. Extracts were set to music for chorus and orchestra in by the British composer Matthew King. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Merlin Holland concludes that "what Queensberry almost certainly wrote was "posing somdomite [ sic ]", Holland Do Wilde's style and tone remain consistent throughout?
In De Profundis, Wilde recognizes numerous ironies regarding the circumstances of his imprisonment, most notably that he himself is imprisoned after suing Queensberry for slander. What other ironies or paradoxes does Wilde point out? What role does irony play in the letter?
Why might Wilde choose to speak in these terms? Do you think Wilde is a reliable narrator? How might his memories of Bosie be influenced by his imprisonment?
De Profundis: Oscar Wilde: Trade Paperback: Powell's Books
Do you find his criticism of Bosie fair? Why or why not? What, if anything, do these figures have in common? How are they different? Compare the different contexts in which Wilde alludes to these figures. What sort of freedom awaits Wilde upon his release? How does he aim to live? Some features of WorldCat will not be available.
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