This intimate account of Oscar Wilde's life and writings is richer, livelier, and more personal than any book available about the brilliant writer, revealing a man who built himself out of books. His library was his reality, the source of so much that was vital to his life. A reader first, his readerly encounters, out of all of life's pursuits, are seen to be as significant as his most important relationships with friends, family, or lovers. Wilde's library, which Thomas Wright spent twenty years reading, provides the intellectual (and emotional) climate at the core of this deeply engaging portrait.
One of the book's happiest surprises is the story of the author's adventure reading Wilde's library. Reminiscent of Jorge Luis Borges's fictional hero who enters Cervantes's mind by saturating himself in the culture of sixteenth-century Spain, Wright employs Wilde as his own Virgilian guide to world literature. We come to understand how reading can be an extremely sensual experience, producing a physical as well as a spiritual delight.
This will explain why my history of the different
branches of popular literature and art ends at very different periods. The
grotesque and satirical sculpture, which adorned the ecclesiastical buildings,
ceased with the middle ages. The story-books, as a part of this social
literature, came down to the sixteenth century, and the history of the
jest-books which arose out of them cannot be considered to extend further than
the beginning of the seventeenth; for, to give a list of jest-books since that
time would be to compile a catalogue of books made by booksellers for sale,
copied from one another, and, till recently, each more contemptible than its
predecessor. The school of satirical literature in France, at all events as far
as it had any influence in England, lasted no longer than the earlier part of
the seventeenth century. England can hardly be said to have had a school of
satirical literature, with the exception of its comedy, which belongs properly
to the seventeenth century; and its caricature belongs especially to the last
century and to the earlier part of the present, beyond which it is not a part
of my plan to carry it.
Tom Wright has undertaken a tremendous task: to provide guides to all the books of the New Testament and to include in them his own translation of the entire text. Each short passage is followed by a highly readable discussion with background information, useful explanations and suggestions, and thoughts as to how the text can be relevant to our lives today. A glossary is included at the back of the book. The series is suitable for group study, personal study, or daily devotions.
This book, third in Wright's series Christian Origins and the Question of God, sketches a map of ancient beliefs about life after death, in both the Greco-Roman and Jewish worlds. It then highlights the fact that the early Christians' belief about the afterlife belonged firmly on the Jewish spectrum, while introducing several new mutations and sharper definitions. This, together with other features of early Christianity, forces the historian to read the Easter narratives in the gospels, not simply as late rationalizations of early Christian spirituality, but as accounts of two actual events: the empty tomb of Jesus and his "appearances."
How do we explain these phenomena? The early Christians' answer was that Jesus had indeed been bodily raised from the dead; that was why they hailed him as the messianic "son of God." No modern historian has come up with a more convincing explanation. Facing this question, we are confronted to this day with the most central issues of the Christian worldview and theology.