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THE COMPLETE WORKS OF OSCAR WILDE (Harper & Row: $15.95)

September 24, 1989|CHARLES SOLOMON

Issuing all of Oscar Wilde's writing in one volume sounds like a good idea. Although "The Picture of Dorian Gray," "De Profundis" and the major comedies have remained more or less constantly in print, "The Portrait of Mr. W. H.," his collections of maxims and much of his poetry have been less readily accessible to the general reader. Unhappily, the concept proves more satisfactory than the execution: At 2 1/2 pounds, the book is unwieldly and too heavy to hold comfortably. As Algernon Moncrieff might have remarked: "To put all of one's writings in a single volume suggests that one is unsure of finding readers for a second."

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