Why Oscar Wilde’s Life Was a Work of Art

More Than a Century After His Death, a Paris Exhibition Illuminates Both the Tawdry and the Transcendent

The French have always loved Oscar Wilde, just as he always loved them. Long before Britain sent him to jail for enjoying sex with other males in 1895, he made Paris his spiritual home. He wrote the erotic tragedy Salomé (1892) in French, but the Examiner of Plays in London banned it after deeming it “half Biblical, half pornographic.” Much later, when he left prison in May 1897, he had to escape London, since his reputation there was ruined. So he crossed the Channel to Paris, where he resided, …

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