UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 04 | Feb.
Vilified and jailed for his sexual orientation, author understood loneliness
by Bruce Mason staff writer
deeply, says scholar
Sarika Bose vividly recalls the moment when she discovered
She was a teenager in a waiting room in her native Calcutta.
“A book caught my attention and I became fascinated with his appearance and
his uncompromising aesthetic and determination to overcome the
through wit and art,” she remembers.
A decade later, after earning a PhD from England’s University of Birmingham
on Wilde’s representation of women, the sessional instructor in
English is sharing
her passion. She is curator of an exhibit, Oscar Wilde — The Apostle
in Special Collections on the eighth floor of the Main Library.
“Remembered as an aesthete, a fop and a dandy, a witty and decadent writer,
whose homosexuality had tragic consequences, he declared that he
put his talent
into his art and his genius into his life,” says Bose.
Penniless and in exile in Paris, Wilde died Nov. 30, 1900 at age 46.
Bose and dozens of others at UBC paid homage and marked the centennial
by reading his letters and excerpts from his work aloud at Cecil Green Park
House. She also organized the conference, Wilde 2000, with English colleague
and sessional lecturer Wilhelm Emilsson in December.
“Wilde’s active career only spanned about 10 years from 1880, so his lasting
cultural dominance and enduring universal appeal is extraordinary,” she says.
It’s not surprising that Bose would be amused and intrigued by Wilde. Her
grandfather was head of English at Calcutta University. A child of graduate
students, she grew up on the UBC campus.
Her mother, Mandakranta Bose, is director of India and South Asia Research
in the Institute of Asian Research. Her father, Tirthankar Bose, is
professor at SFU. “I returned to UBC to earn a Bachelor of Arts
and master’s degree in Renaissance Drama, and when it was time to work on a
PhD, I returned to Oscar,“ she says.
Wilde’s philosophy of joy and pleasure continues to resonate with readers and
theatre-goers, says Bose.
The exhibition — including rare items such as a signed first edition of The
Picture of Dorian Gray — draws primarily on the vast collection donated to
the UBC Library by Norman Colbeck in 1967.
It will be on display until the end of the summer. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.,
Monday to Friday and noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday.