Penguin Classics the Ballad of Reading Gaol and Other Poems

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9780141192673: Penguin Classics the Ballad of Reading Gaol and Other Poems

This poem - originally published anonymously, written after Wilde's two year's hard labour in Reading prison - is the tale of a man who has been sentenced to hang for the murder of the woman he loved. The Ballad of Reading Gaol follows the inmate through his final three weeks, as he stares at the sky and silently drinks his beer ration. Heart-wrenching and eye-opening, the ballad also expresses perfectly Wilde's belief that humanity is made up only of offenders, each of us deserving a greater charity for the severity of our crimes.

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From the Back Cover:

Born in Dublin in 1854, Oscar Wilde dazzled the salons of his day with supremely witty conversation and his ardent championship of a philosophy of aestheticism. As a writer, he produced The Importance of Being Earnest, one of the finest comedies in English, and other classic plays. His one novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, is still widely read, as is "The Ballad of Reading Gaol," a powerful poetic indictment of the degradation and inhumanity of prison life.
This carefully edited volume focuses on Wilde's poetic legacy. In addition to the title poem, readers will find twenty-three other important works: "The Sphinx," "The Grave of Keats," "Requiescat," "Impression du Matin," "Panthea," "Silentium Amoris," "The Harlot's House," "To L. L." and others. While Wilde's fame rests mainly on his achievements as a dramatist and critic, these poems offer important clues to the themes and subjects that preoccupied him in his other works.
Original Dover (1992) selection of 24 poems from standard texts.

About the Author:

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin in 1854. He went to Trinity College, Dublin and then to Magdalen College, Oxford, where he began to propagandize the new Aesthetic (or 'Art for Art's Sake') Movement. Despite winning a first and the Newdigate Prize for Poetry, Wilde failed to obtain an Oxford scholarship, and was forced to earn a living by lecturing and writing for periodicals. After his marriage to Constance Lloyd in 1884, he tried to establish himself as a writer, but with little initial success. However, his three volumes of short fiction, The Happy Prince (1888), Lord Arthur Savile's Crime (1891) and A House of Pomegranates (1891), together with his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), gradually won him a reputation as a modern writer with an original talent, a reputation confirmed and enhanced by the phenomenal success of his Society Comedies - Lady Windermere's Fan, A Woman of No Importance, An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest, all performed on the West End stage between 1892 and 1895. Success, however, was short-lived. In 1891 Wilde had met and fallen extravagantly in love with Lord Alfred Douglas. In 1895, when his success as a dramatist was at its height, Wilde brought an unsuccessful libel action against Douglas's father, the Marquess of Queensberry. Wilde lost the case and two trials later was sentenced to two years' imprisonment for acts of gross indecency. As a result of this experience he wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol. He was released from prison in 1897 and went into an immediate self-imposed exile on the Continent. He died in Paris in ignominy in 1900.

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