Oscar Wilde Discovers America (Hardcover)
Scribner Book Company, 9780743236898, 304pp.
Publication Date: January 28, 2003
In January 1882, Oscar Wilde arrived in New York to begin a nationwide publicity tour. Mentioned in a few newspaper articles -- but barely a footnote in the history books -- was the black valet who accompanied him. In a daring and richly imaginative work, Louis Edwards rescues this figure from obscurity, blurring the line between fact and fiction as he follows Wilde and his gifted confidant, Traquair, on a whirlwind tour across the country, from high-society Newport to art-conscious San Francisco to the Deep South.
Edwards's brilliantly conjured Wilde astounds the New World with his eloquent lectures and larger-than-life presence, while Traquair delights in the greatest year of his youth: losing his virginity in a Washington, D. C., brothel; meeting Jefferson Davis in Mississippi; falling hopelessly in love in St. Louis; and learning about his own family's secret history. Juxtaposed with Traquair's experiences are those of his Caucasian best friend, Baxter, who travels to England and becomes enmeshed in a circle of luminaries including Lady Wilde, James Whistler, Lillie Langtry, and Wilde's future wife, Constance Lloyd.
Combining seductive, epigrammatic language and a unique perspective on class and race in late-nineteenth-century America, Oscar Wilde Discovers America builds to a surprising climax that offers a chilling forecast of the tragic destiny of Wilde and a stunning redefinition of the American spirit.
Praise For Oscar Wilde Discovers America…
Kirkus Reviews (starred) One of the best road tours in American history...tremendous fun: a marvelous story animated with just the right savvy, melodrama, wit, and fantasy.