DE PROFUNDIS. Oscar Wilde.


London: Methuen & Co., (1905). 40 pp ads dated February 1905. Original blue cloth.

First Edition, first state, of this piece written by Wilde in early 1897, toward the end of his two years' imprisonment for gross indecency in Reading Gaol (1895-1897). It is primarily a letter to "Bosie," Lord Alfred Douglas -- his former lover, whose father the Marquess of Queensbury led the attack on Wilde. Wilde entrusted the manuscript to the journalist Robert Ross, another former lover -- who, after Wilde's death in late 1900 (after three years of exile in France), as Wilde's literary executor, arranged to have this published in 1905. It was Ross who decided on the title DE PROFUNDIS ("from the depths," from Psalm 130); but Ross also expurgated some of the manuscript, namely autobiographical elements, and in particular references to the Queensberry family. (It was not until 1962 that the full, unexpurgated version was published, in a volume of Wilde's letters.)

This copy has the ad catalogue in the first state (second state is dated March). It is in very good-plus, perhaps near-fine condition (minor wear at the spine ends). The front cover gilt vignette, by Charles Ricketts, shows a bird escaping through prison bars. Thirty years ago this was rather a common book, but during the intervening years it has become scarce. Mason 388. Item #14842

Price: $775.00

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