|In his last years in London Wilde’s behavior can only be described as reckless. It was as if he were asking to be caught, and eventually he was caught. Yet he had begun his travels happily, visiting France for the first time as a student, then spending his honeymoon in Paris. In frequent trips to the French capital he met well-known writers, feeling at ease with them, preparing a theatrical career with Sarah Bernhardt then at the height of her fame.
Now the pace of Herbert Lottman’s book slows, allowing the reader to follow Wilde’s disgrace: his indifference to indictment, his careless attitude toward witnesses who turn against him, as if he did not face a mandatory sentence of two years of hard labor. Then self-exile to France, rejection by literary society, inability to write, poverty and deadly disease...
The author, who has spent over half his life in France, is best known for biographies of Gustave Flaubert, Albert Camus, Colette, Jules Verne, Man Ray, and the Michelin brothers.