The Corner

Wilde Man

When he is sounding like Burke, incidentally, Disraeli sounds astonishingly like Oscar Wilde. As in:

1. “He had not a single redeeming defect.”

2. “Every woman should marry–and no man.”

As a young man he was also very like a Wilde character–a witty dandy constantly impeding his own rise by debts, love affairs, and dangerous epigrams at the expense of the great.

For Disraeli beginners–and there are now many good biographies to choose from–I recommend the novel Disraeli in Love. Its author is the late Maurice Edelman, a Jewish Labour MP, whose fine political novels are all about the Tory party. It may have been that this was the safest course for an ambitious Labour politician, but I think it also reflects Edelman’s suppressed desire to move in a more glamorous political world than that offered by the parliamentary Labour party.

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