In charting the cultural rehabilitation of Oscar Wilde in my article Finding Oscar, I alluded to the first appearances of him as character on screen.
I made reference to the well known bio-pics about Wilde released in 1960; before those he was in episodes of two separate UK and American TV series in 1958; and the erstwilde earliest Oscar could be found in a Canadian TV drama series of 1955.
Now the bar has been lowered. Predating all of those Oscars was this brief portrayal (above) by a quite Wildean-looking actor complete with cane and green carnation.
The problem is that nobody seems to know who he was.
The film in question is the technicolor feature The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan released in 1953. It was made by the fine team of Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder as a contribution to the national celebration of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. It was a flop. The film, I mean—particularly for the hitherto solvent production company British Lion Films.
Continue reading “Cloak of Mystery” →
Oscar Wilde’s After-Dinner Rebuke to his Press Critics
Originally published in 2015, now as rewritten for the Oscar Wilde Society newsletter. For membership go to: oscarwildesociety.co.uk/membership/
It is pleasing to see that recent Wilde studies continue to highlight the emergent nature of Oscar’s American experience, during which time he nurtured the art of public speaking, conducted his first press interviews, staged his first play, had his iconic photographs taken, and stockpiled—to use an American word—material for his future epigrams and works.
But there is a crucial American beginning for Oscar that has been under-appreciated: I refer to his first brush with literary society. It occurred during an event at 149 Fifth Avenue in New York City, the then home of an organisation of journalists known as the Lotos Club.
Continue reading “I Can Wait (Revisited)” →
“Making Oscar Wilde” by Michèle Mendelssohn
Oxford University Press (2018)
Reviewed by: John Cooper
One of the most noteworthy contributions to the recent surge in Wildean material has been Michèle Mendelssohn’s treatise Making Oscar Wilde (2018).
As the title suggests, it is an attempt to establish a premise for the shaping of Wilde’s persona—the latest in a history of such perspectives which has included disquisitions via his Irish roots, his American experience, his men, his women, his friends, his enemies, his wit, his letters, his published works, his unpublished works, his recorded life, his unrecorded life, and, for good measure, his afterlife.
Now Making Oscar Wilde takes a potentially useful and probably unique view through the prism of Wilde’s racial profile. On surface reading the work has much to commend it—but to discover whether it works as a construction we will have to disassemble it.
Continue reading “Making (Up) Oscar Wilde” →
Textual Analysis for Students
A verse parody appeared just three weeks after Oscar Wilde arrived in America. It was one many such newspaper items in 1882 that poked fun at Wilde and the aesthetic movement.
It was notable for its affected and satirical overuse of alliteration. Although Wilde was known for his occasional penchant for this verbal prose style (something that Whistler later parodied), it was probably not recognized by the author of this verse when it was written in January 1882.
It is more likely that its use was prompted by expressions such as “too-too” and “utterly utter” that were connected to the also alliterative Apostle of the Aesthetes.
As such, the text is instructional in understanding allusions to Wilde and the aesthetic movement. Let us examine the terminology:
Continue reading “Quixote of the Queer” →