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'Looking at the Others': Oscar Wilde and the Reading Gaol Archive

Stoneley, P. (2014) 'Looking at the Others': Oscar Wilde and the Reading Gaol Archive. Journal of Victorian Culture, 19 (4). pp. 457-480. ISSN 1750-0133

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/13555502.2014.965500


In looking at Wilde and the prison, scholarship has understandably focussed on the lengthy and complex De Profundis, and how the prison experience confirmed or re-shaped Wilde as a writer and thinker. Wilde himself claimed to have been saved by the ‘others’ that he encountered in prison, and these ‘others’ have received scant attention. Who were they? How does a greater knowledge of them supplement our sense of the nineteenth-century prison and of Wilde? This essay looks closely at the Reading Gaol archive, tracing out the lives of some of those with whom Wilde was incarcerated and providing analyses of the prison population in Reading while Wilde was there. Aside from yielding the only known photographs of any of the young working-class men in whom Wilde took an interest, the essay seeks to build a more nuanced reading of Wilde's experience. Above all, the aim is to open out the meanings of the Wilde myth, and, in particular, to offer a more socially inclusive version.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > English Literature
ID Code:38434
Publisher:Taylor & Francis

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