… The Impossibility of Being Oscar | by John Banville | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
The burning question that was asked at the time, and it is a question that glimmers to this day, was why Wilde had not taken advantage of the chance to flee the country that was tacitly offered to him by the authorities on that fateful day—the adjective is unavoidable—April 5, 1895, when a warrant for his arrest on charges of homosexual crimes was held in abeyance for an hour and a half, time enough for him to take the steamer to Calais and immunity from prosecution. Even his mother had urged him to go, but go he would not. “I decided it was nobler and more beautiful to stay,” he told the love of his life, Lord Alfred Douglas. “I did not want to be called a coward or a deserter.” To the end he connived in and embraced his own downfall.