Frankel and Earnest (and other boys’ names)

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Nicholas Frankel’s scholarly edition of The Annotated Importance of Being Earnest

I am fascinated by the editorial introduction and inter-leaf annotations in Nicholas Frankel’s new scholarly edition of The Annotated Importance of Being Earnest [1]. The publisher, Harvard University Press, tells us that Frankel’s running commentary, “ties the play closely to Wilde’s personal life and sexual identity, illuminating literary, biographical, and historical allusions.”

Quite right. The book include not only insights into Wilde’s meaning, but also information about the chronology of Wilde’s textual changes, some of which were made four years after the play was first staged. All this is quite revelatory for those who, like me, appreciate the research that must have gone into it. Or, put another way, it’s the kind of thing you’ll like if you like that kind of thing.

However, this article is not a book review. I have something revelatory of my own.

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“Oscar” the Opera | The Art Of Darkness

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Oscar, the opera in Philadelphia

The last time Oscar Wilde visited Philadelphia it was to promote an opera. That was during a lecture tour of America in 1882 when a required part of his raison d’être was to be the poster-boy for Gilbert & Sullivan’s latest offering Patience—a comic opera whose purpose was to ridicule the adherents of the Aesthetic Movement. Not that it mattered to Oscar Wilde that he was the movement’s leading representative and the person most closely identified with the ridicule. He always knew he would outlive the mob mentality, and it is an ironic measure of the wisdom of Wilde’s indifference that he has triumphantly returned to Philadelphia as the subject of an opera himself. The question now is: if Oscar the man was indifferent to Patience, would he have had any patience for Oscar the opera?

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A Wilde Winter in Philadelphia


Philadelphia is the place for Wildeans this Winter

A catalyst and centerpiece of current activity is the Morrison/Cox opera Oscar which had its world premiere in Santa Fe, NM, last year to generally favorable reviews of its singers, orchestra, conductor Evan Rogister, and overall production values. Critics can look forward to an updated libretto for the East Coast premiere.

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Oscar Wilde Goes to California

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Oscar Wilde’s long and eventful journey to California in 1882.

Those who have been following my verification of Oscar Wilde’s lecture tour of North America in 1882 will know that we have reached California.

Oscar Wilde’s journey to California was a significant event in itself as it constituted his longest period of continuous traveling—4 days and 4 nights—incorporating some 1867 miles and over 200 station stops. It was, as might be imagined with Oscar Wilde on board, a journey that was not without several incidents and experiences. Trace Wilde’s Journey to California, discover the route, and learn about his adventures and life on board the train.

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Oscar Wilde’s Arrival in America

ariadne2On December 24, 1881, Oscar Wilde sailed for America from Liverpool aboard the S.S. Arizona bound for New York. The reasons for his much-heralded visit seemed clear enough: to promote Gilbert & Sullivan’s latest operetta, Patience, while conducting a series of lectures on subjects of his own choosing.

The ship arrived late on January 2, 1882, and lay at quarantine overnight. On the morning of January 3, the Arizona pulled into its dock, and passengers headed for the customs shed at Castle Garden, which was the point of entry for visitors to NewYork and a major receiving station for immigrants prior to the opening of Ellis Island some ten years later.

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Not A Joy Forever

A cartoon depicting Oscar Wilde at the end of his visit to America in 1882 in contrasting poses.

Oscar Wilde’s American visits resulted in mixed fortunes: he failed to make any literary advance, and although his tour met with a mixed reception critically, it was a great commercial success. We can see these fortunes reflected in the Judge cartoon.

On the left, recognizing the commercial success of his lecture tour, Oscar is shown surrounded by lilies and sunflowers (the floral emblems of the aesthetic movement), and showered with gold. On the right we see him somewhat shabbier, and with his bags packed at Castle Garden, the receiving station at New York: under his arm is Vera, the play Wilde brought with him and for which he struggled to find interest. The play was eventually staged in New York in August 1883 but was a withdrawn after a week.

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Oscar Wilde On Dress

OSCAR WILDE ON DRESS | LIMITED EDITION

Limited Bibliophile Edition | Ebook
http://www.oscarwildeondress.com

It is rare that an important contribution by a major author goes unrecorded. Rarer still if the author is Oscar Wilde, the famous poet, writer, dramatist, and much quoted wit, who has been the subject of continual interest and analysis since his death in 1900. But such has been the fate of his 1885 essay The Philosophy Of Dress.

This work now forms the centerpiece of a unique collection of Wilde’s writings on dress and fashion. In the book, in addition to the essay, there are generously annotated and illustrated chapters that analyze the importance of dress to Wilde’s writing career, and a comprehensive review of the influences, trends, characters, and source material that informed his dress philosophy. As a compendium this book includes several period articles and letters by Wilde on dress and fashion, along with related, but rarely published, correspondence.
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This first printing of the First Edition is limited to 100 copies and is expected to sell out on general release.

You can order now by visiting the following the link below:
http://www.oscarwildeondress.com

For more and ebook see:
http://oscarwildeinamerica.org/works/philosophy-of-dress.html

NBC reports change in English law

I was consulted—in an extremely minor way—for this piece on NBC.

Bravo to MSNBC and UK politician David Lammy who takes up Oscar’s courtroom justification.

Wilde Style

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To accompany the world premiere of the Morrison/Cox opera Oscar in Santa Fe, NM, this adapted excerpt from my book Oscar Wilde On Dress appeared in the Santa Fe New Mexican’s arts magazine Pasatiempo.

http://www.santafenewmexican.com/pasatiempo/music/classical_music/article_c776936c-f565-11e2-a96f-0019bb30f31a.html

For more on Wilde and dress see:
http://oscarwildeinamerica.org/works/philosophy-of-dress.html

Conference: Legacy of Oscar Wilde

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Review of the conference: Who Owns The Legacy of Oscar Wilde?

Wilde Conference at Drew University, June 1-2, 2012
A REVIEW
by John Cooper 

So it was to Drew University (Madison, NJ) hopeful of enlightenment as to the nominal question posed by the conference.

To the question of who owns the legacy of an author in the public domain the answer is usually nobody. However, this conference was a reminder, should it be needed, that in the sphere of Wilde studies nobody often translates into anybody willing to marry the subject, for better or worse, to their own vision of Wilde. This is not surprising given Wilde’s dualities of nationality, gender and style, and over the years writers have enjoyed an open season and taken careful aim at their subject, giving us some quite specific visions of Oscar.

At least in a forum such as the subject becomes a moving target. So we had varied questions, not only of the Irish Wilde and the gay Wilde, as might be expected, but also an array of topics ranging from thesis to the practical; subjects from Wilde’s reputation as a classicist to the ownership of his work and imagery.

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