Books: Happy Man

OSCAR WILDE: HIS LIFE AND WIT (345 pp.) — Hesketh Pearson — Harper ($3.75).

"Genius," Oscar Wilde once said, "is born, not paid." His own limp-lily brand of Irish-Oxonian genius has been paid many times over, which is not necessarily to say overpaid. In the years since his death in 1900 (from cerebral meningitis, probably complicated by syphilis), he has become more & more renowned—a state of affairs which he would doubtless find amusing.

He always attracted a great deal of attention, his admirers ranging in degree from the Prince of Wales (later Edward...

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