Alex Ross on the greatness and the tragedy of Oscar Wilde (see the new uncensored, annotated "The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Harvard University Press):
The transformation is almost dreamlike. Yet I doubt that Wilde would recognize in our world the utopia that he dreamed aloud in “The Soul of Man Under Socialism.” A man who steeped himself in the literature of the ancient Greeks, who modelled his being on the writing of Balzac and Stendhal and Pater, who read Dante every day in prison, might have seen a new kind of hell in the global triumph of American-style pop culture. Medicine prolongs life and slows aging, but personal satisfaction is as elusive a commodity as it was for Dorian Gray. Prejudice wanes, ignorance grows, the world spins forward and backward. Few of us would wish for the return of Wilde’s London, with its opulent surfaces and savage heart. But Wilde might have been content to stay there, savoring his joys and sorrows. No one lives happily ever after.