Of that Wilde, the extant record affords us only a few tantalizing glimpses: a university prize essay, an unsigned review article, journeyman’s pieces that nonetheless reveal a characteristic bravura. This partial view has occasionally been enlarged over the years by the publication of fascinating bits of juvenilia (“Hellenism,” a fragmentary set of notes about Spartan civilization, was published only in 1979). Now we have The Women of Homer, a substantial although unfinished paper on Homer’s female characters that reminds us once more how strongly Wilde’s classical training underpinned the sensibility that would make him so famous.

Wilde’s copy of the Nichomachean Ethics, dated 1877, contains this suggestive gloss on the text: