Written from Wilde's prison cell at Reading Gaol to his friend and lover Lord Alfred Douglas, "De Profundis" explodes the conventions of the traditional love letter and offers a scathing indictment of Douglas's behavior, a mournful elegy for Wilde's own lost greatness, and an impassioned plea for reconciliation. At once a bracingly honest account of ruinous attachment and a profound meditation on human suffering, "De Profundis" is a classic of gay literature. Richard Ellmann calls "De Profundis" "a love letter...One of the greatest, and the longest, ever written."
This Modern Library Paperback Classics edition contains newly commissioned notes.
About the Author
Oscar Wilde was born on October 16, 1854, to the Irish nationalist and writer Speranza Wilde and the doctor William Wilde. After graduating from Oxford in 1878, Wilde moved to London, where he became notorious for his sharp wit and flamboyant style of dress.
Though he was publishing plays and poems throughout the 1880s, it wasn t until the late 1880s and early 1890s that his work started to be received positively. In 1895, Oscar Wilde was tried for homosexuality and was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison. Tragically, this downfall came at the height of his career, as his plays, An Ideal Husband "and The Importance of Being Earnest, "were playing to full houses in London. He was greatly weakened by the privations of prison life, and moved to Paris after his sentence. Wilde died in a hotel room, either of syphilis or complications from ear surgery, in Paris, on November 30, 1900.
Richard Ellmann was Goldsmiths Professor at Oxford University and Woodruff Professor at Emory University. He achieved world fame for his biography of Joyce and wrote many scholarly and critical works, including two on Yeats.
"Displays the insight, honesty, and unself-conscious style of a great writer."
--W. H. Auden