Declaring His Genius:
Oscar Wilde in North America
by Roy Morris Jr.
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Oscar Wilde is famous for having found the Atlantic Ocean a bit of a letdown. "The roaring ocean does not roar," he observed in 1882. But he would face tumult soon enough. Wilde was just twenty-seven, and about to embark on a year-long lecture tour of the United States that would throw him together with miners and socialites, undergraduates and poets, and set the ocean of the world roaring around him. He was young, dandiacal, theatrical, publicity-seeking—ridiculed and lionized on both sides of the Atlantic. In years to come he would glitter with fame and accomplishment, yet he would also be ruined, jailed, and degraded, and find himself indigent, ill, and alone. Wilde's inward character bore raging contrasts; by nature "the kindest of men," as his biographer Richard Ellmann described him, Wilde was capable, too,
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