Chapter

‘The Most Bitter Experience of a Bitter Life’

J. Robert Maguire

in Ceremonies of Bravery

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780199660827
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191748929 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199660827.003.0007
‘The Most Bitter Experience of a Bitter Life’

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This chapter relates to the first year following Wilde’s release from prison. Determined to resume ‘artistic’ work, in the relative quiet of Berneval he brought ‘The Ballad of Reading Gaol’ to near completion. As the carefree seaside days of summer gave way to the approach of autumn, however, the succession of visitors slowed, the weather began to change and boredom set in. Appeals to both Blacker and Constance, then visiting in Freiburg, to see him were met with discouraging replies suggesting postponement of the time. In regular communication with Douglas, he eventually made plans with him for the two to go to Italy and live together, thus causing his few remaining loyal friends to break with him as well as precipitating cancellation of the allowance Wilde received from Constance. Under threat from Douglas’s mother of stopping Bosie’s own small allowance, the affair that had been rekindled with such passion a few months earlier succumbed in an atmosphere of fatigue and relief as with the approval of both parties they separated. While Douglas left for Paris, Wilde lingered on in Naples for another month, until the publication date of the ‘Ballad’ approached when he decided as well to return to Paris.

Keywords: Berneval; Robin; Sebastian Melmoth; Paton; Conybeare; Browning; Otho Holland; Vyvyan; Cyril; Rothenstein; Turner; Tartuffe

Chapter.  6375 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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