Questions For Discussion
1. The book begins with this quote: "Would you like to know the great drama of my life? It is that I have put my genius into my life...I have put only my talent into my works" (p. ix). What might Oscar Wilde have meant by this? Are there instances in the book where the fictional Wilde demonstrates this genius?
2. "Young people imagine that money is everything; when they grow older, they know it" (p. 194). In his daily interactions, how does Oscar demonstrate the truth of this remark? Compare Sherard's and Pearse's opinions of money with Oscar's.
3. To Oscar, ugliness is a sin he labels "the devil's work" (p. 155). In your opinion, why is he so distressed by things that are not beautiful? How does his quest for beauty color his life and daily interactions?
4. When Sherard asks Oscar why he deliberately makes an enemy of Charles Brookfield, Wilde says, "Because I cannot make him my friend" (p. 222). Do you agree that Oscar lacked the power to make a friend of Brookfield? Why weren't they friends? What does this say about Wilde's character? About Brookfield's?
5. Discuss the role of class in the book. How does Oscar differ from Alphonse Byrd and David McMuirtree in social rank? In particular, what does the book say about being a gentleman?
6. What are Sherard's first descriptions of Byrd when he is introduced to the story? How does our knowledge of this secretive man change as the mystery unfolds?