A rediscovered letter by Oscar Wilde informs his relationship with anonymity
Wilde’s college exploits, his aesthetic entry into London society, the self-publicity of his American tour, and his rise to fame have all been well documented; and the story often distills to the crucial moment of his fall from grace, a short period in 1895 when fame turned to infamy.
But there is a more enduring, more subtle, and underlying theme that began with Wilde’s desire to be known: it was a journey through his art and life towards an imperative for anonymity.
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When it comes to measuring time, sixty is an oddly benign number. It records the seconds into minutes and the minutes into hours indistinguishably. But when the number is used to mark the passage of years—three score can give one quite a jolt. So when the occasion crept up on me last week, I was need of rejuvenation.
An outing to the theatre would be the tonic I thought. But with the next Wilde play not until later in the month, I would need to find another balm for my (now) furrowed brow.
What then if not Oscar? Perhaps something pre-Oscar…
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In Alice in Wonderland there is a “caucus-race” which involves all concerned running around in a circle until eventually everyone is declared the winner.
With this allusion, Lewis Carroll gently satirizes the futility of political processes—which is topical while the US focuses on the US caucuses, which begin today in Iowa.
Continue reading Convention Bending