Wilde About Oscar

On the screen, on the boards and on the page, the 19th century aesthete emerges as a superstar

All that's missing, it seems, are the dashboard statuettes and the black velvet portraits--but they will come. Almost 100 years after his death, in a multimedia postmortem comeback spearheaded by a Broadway play and a feature film (both British imports that hit U.S. shores this week) and including countless books and websites, Oscar Wilde, the infamously persecuted--some say martyred--gay Irish playwright, poet and novelist, is threatening to become the aesthete's Elvis.

The comparison with a redneck superstar might outrage bluestocking Wilde partisans, but it isn't quite the heresy it seems. Like Elvis, Wilde was a fiercely ambitious hinterlander who took the...

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