De Profundis

Reception

G. S. Street, who had earlier been an intellectual opponent of the decadents, had two impressions of De Profundis: one, "that it was poignantly touching, the other it was extraordinarily and profoundly interesting".[45] Street dismissed contemporary complaints that the letter lacked sincerity, saying this was just a manifestation of those who opposed Wilde's graceful writing style.[46]

Max Beerbohm, an old friend of Wilde's, wrote a signed review, "A Lord of Language," for Vanity Fair. He described the writing in De Profundis as having achieved the perfect grace of Wilde's earlier work, and said that Wilde had remained a detached artist of words, concluding: "We see him here as the spectator of his own tragedy. His tragedy was great. It is one of the tragedies that will always live on in romantic history."[47]

T. W. H. Crosland, a journalist and friend of Douglas after Wilde's death, negatively reviewed De Profundis in 1912.[48] He strongly criticised Ross's editing, but claimed the entire document was even more morally bankrupt than the published version: "A blacker, fiercer, falser, craftier, more grovelling or more abominable piece of writing never fell from a mortal pen", he wrote.[49]

A version abridged by Merlin Holland was performed by Corin Redgrave in 2000 at the Royal National Theatre in London. It was revived in 2008.[50]

An abridged version was set for speaking pianist by composer Frederic Rzewski.

Extracts were set to music for chorus and orchestra in 2012 by the British composer Matthew King.


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