Oscar Wilde's Love Letters
Oscar Wilde is about to get a bit more earnest. But is it important? A few days ago, a collection of his love letters to editor Alsager Vian fetched £34,000 at a Derby auction house. The five letters were written during the height of his fame in 1887, and until recently hadn't been revealed. They hint at his homosexuality and expose his interest in the young male editor. Fervid Wilde fans and scholars will jump at the chance to read a few more words by their favorite author. While I am just as fascinated, and recognize that as a literary giant, Wilde is open to public scrutiny, I've been thinking about the ethics of publishing private thoughts posthumously. When Sylvia Plath's unabridged journals were published in 2000, many felt that it was long overdue, and that Ted Hughes had unfairly kept them under lock and key. Was it unfair? Do Sylvia's fans have a right to read everything she ever wrote? What do you think? Do Oscar's private letters add to his canon and help us understand him or his work better? Or is it the literary equivalent of a Paris Hilton up-the-skirt moment?