SEEK WHAT IS MOST TRAGIC"
THE VIKING PRESS has brought out in its Portable Library series a selection from the writings of Oscar Wilde, with a dozen unpublished letters and an introduction by Richard Aldington, and Harper is about to publish a new biography of Wilde by Hesketh Pearson: Oscar Wilde: His Life and Wit. This last book is a journalistic job. Mr. Pearson is an actor turned writer, who has also done biographies of Erasmus Darwin, Sydney Smith, Hazlitt, Gilbert and Sullivan, Labouchère, Anna Seward, Tom Paine, Shakespeare, Bernard Shaw and Conan Doyle. His book makes interesting reading, for he has assembled from various sources an immense number of anecdotes and sayings, and he has managed to tell a straighter story than we usually get where Wilde is concerned. Oscar Wilde has hitherto been written about mostly by his personal friends, among whom the vituperative controversies seem with time to become more embittered. Mr. Pearson stands quite clear of all these disputes, and he writes with good sense and good temper. But his book is only another example of the current kind of popular biography that adds little to our knowledge of its subject: non-critical, non-analytic and, though dealing with literary matters, essentially non-literary.
Mr. Pearson does, however, tell Wilde's story with a