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168 LORD ALFRED DOUGLAS: AN ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY OF WRITINGS ABOUT HIM By Gary H. Paterson (King's College, University of Western Ontario) Lord Alfred Douglas (1870-1945) is now remembered chiefly for his part in the Wilde scandal and as the recipient of the p_e Pr o fund i s letter. As poet, he is probably best described as a fine minor talent, capable of moments of greatness, a careful traditionalist and craftsman. His prose works are unread today except by students of Wilde. Yet, in his own right, Douglas is the subject of no less than four full-length biographies and many critical articles. Moreover, large portions of Wilde biographies are devoted to scrutiny of his character and works. Because of his complex personality, which in some ways did not mature beyond the 1890s, and the central episode of his life - his friendship with Wilde - it will always be difficult to make a balanced and objective assessment of the life of Douglas. To be sure, he was the darling of the Wilde coterie and before that the centre of a circle of admiring literary undergraduates at Oxford in the early nineties. Later, he was to have literary or business relationships with such disparate figures as T. W. H. Crosland, Bernard Shaw, Frank Harris, Robert Sherard, Marie Stopes and Winston Churchill . In these relationships, opinions of Douglas vary from his being called "the most complete cad in history" (Herbert Read, 1949). to his being "thoroughly good-hearted" and "by no means the moody, irascible, revengeful person that many fancy him" (Sherard, 1937). The poetry of Douglas received praise from the early reviews of his Poems (I896) and The City of the Soul (1899) to the Collected Poems (1919). The craftsmanship of the sonnets has been commented upon favourably as well as his frequent striking use of imagery. Of his prose works, Oscar Wilde« a Summing Up is probably the best; the Autobiography, although much quoted, was never well received. With the exception of the studies by Braybrooke and Brown and reviews of his publications, biographies and critical estimates of Douglas were not numerous until after his death in 1945· In 1948, Marie Carmichael Stopes delivered an extravagant address to the Royal Society of Literature, while William Freeman published a harshly critical biography subtitled "Spoilt Child of Genius." The following year, the Marquess of Queensberry in collaboration with Percy Colson published Oscar Wilde and the Black Douglas ; Vyvyan Holland's edition of De_ ProfUndis also appeared. Interest in Douglas probably peaked in the early 1960s with the Hart-Davis edition of The Letters of Oscar Wilde, which contained the complete De Profund i s . The best biography to date is Croft-Cooke's Bosie (I963). Subsequent biographies of Wilde by Croft-Cooke, Jullian, Fido, Hyde, Moreley, and Kronenberger, while incorporating new material, have dealt with the personality of Douglas in a more mature manner than ever before. Most recently, a dramatic presentation of Lord Alfred Douglas's reminiscences about Wilde - Oscar Remembered-was first 169 produced in Stratford, Canada, in 1975 and has had successful runs there and elsewhere, in Toronto, Dundalk (Ireland), London (G. B.) and Edinburgh. The script was written by the young Canadian actor Maxim Mazumdar, who played the role of Bosie in this one-man show. The bibliographer of Lord Alfred Douglas is faced with a number of problems of selection. Firstly, because the lives of Wilde and Douglas were so closely linked, a bibliography of Douglas could conceivably form the better part of a bibliography of Wilde insofar as biographical details are concerned. Secondly, since Douglas was well known in so many circles throughout his life, there is the problem of how many reminiscences or references in letters or biographies of contemporaries to include. Finally, the comments on Douglas in literary histories must be assessed as to their significance and selected in a meaningful way. In compiling materials for this bibliography which relate to Wilde, I have tried to present as many viewpoints on Douglas as possible without becoming unnecessarily redundant. Depending upon the biographer 's attitude toward Wilde, the treatment of Douglas might be harsh or gentle and the emerging image might range from villainous...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 168-200
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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