The Last Testament of Oscar Wilde

The Last Testament of Oscar Wilde - Peter Ackroyd [These notes were made in 1988:]. A fascinating little book. I devoured it all in one sitting. Mr. Ackroyd, writing as if he were Oscar Wilde, recalling his life, is not only a remarkable mimic, but seems to possess a generous share of psychological insight as well. His Oscar is, I fear, a little wiser and more sober on his deathbed than the original perhaps was. But if there is to be a fault, I'm glad it's on the sympathetic side. I cannot praise the style too much - Ackroyd has caught both Wilde's self-important tone and his gift for the delightful and unexpected simile. And the epigrams: is this Ackroyd or Oscar? "The young never understand youth in others: that is their tragedy. The old do, always: that is theirs." Ackroyd deals with Wilde's literary work with familiarity and Oscar's own unshakeable certitude of his own genius. About Wilde's personal life he is speculative - making up many incidents which may or may not have happened - without being sensationalistic. One catches oneself starting to believe Wilde actually wrote this, and treating it as a document, not a piece of fiction. It's a strange sensation.