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4.0 

The Ballad of Reading Gaol and De Profundis

By Oscar Wilde
The Ballad of Reading Gaol and De Profundis by Oscar Wilde digital book - Fable

Publisher Description

“The Ballad of Reading Gaol and De Profundis” collects together some of Oscar Wilde’s most important writings during and concerning his two-year-long incarceration for “gross indecency”. In the words of Oscar Wilde, we see his recognition for the part that he plays in his own downfall. While he never directly admits to his crimes, numerous contemporary witnesses seem to validate the charges against him. Yet Wilde could have avoided his fate if he had not chosen to sue the Marquess of Queensberry for libel. The harsh experience of prison life is recounted in these works with sensitivity towards reform. As a person of a weaker constitution, it is believed that Wilde’s prison infirmities may have contributed to his decline and death just a few years after his release. In “The Ballad of Reading Gaol”, the last work published before Wilde’s death, we have an eloquent and sensitive concern for the insufferable conditions of prison life juxtaposed with the execution of a man convicted of killing his wife. The 1926 edition of “De Profundis” is presented here with introductory matter by Wilde’s literary executor, Robbie Ross, and several of Wilde’s letters from prison that were collected in that edition. Together these works give the reader an intimate picture of the writer at the most trying point of his life and the spiritual awakening that it produced. This edition includes a biographical afterword.

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38 Reviews

4.0
“When Oscar Wilde had been convicted of ‘crimes of indecency’, aka his homosexual relationship, (using his work The Picture of Dorian Gray propped up as evidence during his trial), he was sentenced to two years hard labor. One of these stints was served at Reading Gaol. (Hence the name of the poem, published under his prisoner identification C.3-3) The stanzas of the poem are written from his prisoner’s viewpoint of the condemned, with the execution of Thomas Wooldridge at it’s core, the poem is built of realism, but in the most gothic sense. In his last notable work, it’s painfully apparent that Oscar Wilde is a deeply wounded, nigh unto irreparable soul. His bravery to bring forward the reality of the prison system, treatment of the incarcerated, the private executions, the tortured people, and the reform he called for in turn meant that he had forced himself to relive over & over his time spent over those two years at the hands of a justice system that often failed its primary goal. All this to say that, to understand where the author is writing from is truly key to feeling the severity of this poem. Wilde would never recover, & Reading Gaol is likely the hand that dealt him an early death.”

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