Spring 1948 • Vol. X No. 2 Book ReviewsApril 1, 1948 |

Tardy and Partial Recognition

Oscar Wilde by Edouard Roditi. Makers of Modern Literature Series. New Directions. $2.00   After fifty years, judging by continual revival among the literate and semi-literate, we probably must take Wilde to be the chief English general man of letters of his age. To this there is no doubt cause to sigh Hélas ("Hugo, hélas!")—yet there is the fact, to conjure with or explain. If we consider that today Eliot and Gide, two minds far from first-rate—even, as they themselves understand, a little stupid—nevertheless rightly hold almost authoritative positions in English and French letters, we learn to expect that inconspicuous virtues and chances can combine to preeminence. The purpose of Roditi's little study of Wilde is "to indicate the central position that Wilde's works and ideas occupy in the thought and art of his age, and in the shift of English and American literature from established and aging Romanticism to what we now call modernism." This purpose he achieves, t

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