Oscar Wilde: The Women of Homer edited by Thomas Wright and Donald Mead
The first edition of a hitherto unpublished work by Oscar Wilde:
"This book is a wonderful contribution both to Homeric and to Wildean studies".
"The editors' skilful and sensitive rearrangement of the order of the raw manuscript into five sections has resulted in a remarkably coherent and readable essay. This is a beautifully produced edition of Wilde's earliest surviving prose work, one that is likely to satisfy the editors' hope that 'The Women of Homer' will take its place in Wilde's oeuvre."
JOHN SLOAN from the review in The Wildean No. 34
Oscar Wilde: The Women of Homer, edited by Thomas Wright and Donald Mead, was published by the Oscar Wilde Society on 1st November 2008 in a limited cloth bound hardback illustrated edition. A second impression with corrections is now available.
In 1876 Oscar Wilde, then an undergraduate at Magdalen College, Oxford, wrote an article surveying the chapter 'The Women of Homer' from John Addington Symonds's newly published Studies of the Greek Poets (Second Series). The article was both a review of Symonds’s book and a general introduction to the heroines of Homer's epics. Wilde failed to complete the piece, abandoning it after penning 8,500 words.
Wilde's manuscript has survived. Robert Ross seems to have contemplated including it in his Collected Edition of Wilde's works but he never finished the work of editing it.
Wilde's article, 'The Women of Homer', is published here for the very first time. It is his earliest surviving prose work, and probably his first attempt at reviewing. It has been read by only a handful of scholars and Wildeans.
In this book, the typescript of the article which Christopher Millard prepared at the behest of Robert Ross is collated with Wilde's manuscript, and reproduced as a scholarly reference text illustrated by facsimiles of pages of the typescript and manuscript, and photographs. It is accompanied by a reading text, aimed at the general reader, in which Wilde's fragmentary article is re-ordered and fully annotated, and illustrated with designs by John Flaxman.
This charming edition of The Women of Homer is an elegant and intriguing addition to Wilde's oeuvre.
It is available direct from the Society at £30.00 inclusive of post and packing within the UK. Please click here to download a purchase form.
Thomas Wright's Table Talk Oscar Wilde, the first English language collection of Wilde's spoken stories, was published in 2000 by Cassell & Co. Oscar's Books, his biography of Wilde the reader, was published by Chatto & Windus in September 2008. Death in Genoa was published by the Oscar Wilde Society in January 2010.
Donald Mead, the Chairman of the Oscar Wilde Society, is the Editor of
The Wildean, A Journal of Oscar Wilde Studies.
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NEW PUBLICATION: Death in Genoa by Thomas Wright
The first edition of a new play by the author of Oscar’s Books.
Death in Genoa is an imaginative dramatic reconstruction of Oscar Wilde’s visit to his wife’s grave in Genoa, on 26 February 1899 (a poignant and little-known episode in his life), and of the time he spent in the Ligurian city. The drama is based on fact, but it is a work of fiction.
A ‘Made in Manchester/Dark Smile’ production, the audio play Death in Genoa was uploaded to the website of The Independent newspaper in December 2009. In the audio drama Simon Callow plays Oscar Wilde, and Samuel Barnett is Omero, a young Genoese rent-boy Wilde picks up, and who acts as his guide to the city.
Thomas Wright's unabridged script of the drama is published here (for the audio broadcast an entire scene was cut). The book contains a long preface by the author describing the historical context and composition of the play. It is illustrated with a number of evocative photographs of late nineteenth-century Genoa.
Death in Genoa is available direct from the Society at £8.00 inclusive of post and packing within the UK. Please click here to download a purchase form.
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Oscar Wilde visits his wife's grave in Genoa, a journey of destiny.
By P. C. Wright ("'Keep it Slow'" Bedford UK) 4 Feb 2010
‘This is a fascinating play which explores the complexity of Oscar Wilde. Wilde is not the dandy in the witness box or the scourge of English society with all the usual elaborated dramatics. This is a more human and complex character with children, and a wife he loved ; but still louche and unrepentant. Thomas Wright's play, and Simon Callow's Wilde conjure up a person with heart, shallowness, regret and a foreboding. This is a bitter sweet rite of passage as Wilde knowingly drifts towards his own fate. Absorbing and thought provoking. Excellent.’
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The Oscar Wilde Society issues two regular print journals – The Wildean and Intentions - to all its members both in UK and, by airmail, to those overseas.
The Wildean: A Journal of Oscar Wilde Studies
To quote Jonathan Fryer in his biography Wilde (Haus Publishing, 2005):
'The Wildean provides both stimulation to Wilde scholars and enlightenment to Oscar enthusiasts.'
The Wildean is published twice a year and contains illustrated articles and correspondence on a wide range of topics relating to Oscar Wilde and his circle. Contributors include many distinguished writers on Wilde. In addition to articles about Wilde’s life and writings, often incorporating the results of new research, important books about Wilde are reviewed as soon as possible after publication.
To quote Professor Pascal Aquien in the notes to his bilingual edition of Un Mari Idéal (GF Flammarion, 2004):
‘The Wildean regularly brings up to date the bibliography of Oscar Wilde.’
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A combined Table of Contents for all the issues of The Wildean may be seen by clicking here.
Here is an outline of the contents of the two most recent issues:
The Wildean No. 41 was issued in July 2012
THOMAS WRIGHT’s important article ‘Hellenism’ contains the first accurate and annotated text of Wilde's little-known undergraduate work 'Hellenism'. It is effectively a new work by Wilde, published in The Wildean for the first time. The article places ‘Hellenism’ in the context of Wilde’s scholarly and literary pursuits at Oxford, grapples with the mysteries surrounding its composition, and attempts to answer the overwhelming questions of why and when he wrote it. Wright discusses its themes and style and describes the state and chequered history of the manuscript. His notes on the text elucidate Wilde’s references to Greek culture and literature and describe Wilde’s use of his sources. The article is illustrated with facsimiles of pages from Wilde’s manuscript and the typescript compiled by Christopher Millard.
MATTHEW STURGIS in his illustrated article ‘When in Rome – Oscar Wilde’s Roman Sightseeing’ discusses Wilde’s visits to Rome in 1877 (as an undergraduate) and 1900 (as a self-imposed exile). In his choice of things to look at Wilde reveals something of his particular interests, his affectations, his allegiances – and his originality.
CHRISTOPHER S. NASSAAR in ‘The Jekyll-Hyde Split in Oscar Wilde’s Works’ considers how this split permeates and controls much of Oscar Wilde’s literature. He discusses Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime, The Fisherman and his Soul, Dorian Gray, Lady Windermere’s Fan, Salomé, Earnest, and De Profundis.
HORST SCHROEDER in ‘Ada Leverson’s “Reminiscences” Pre-figured: Frank Richardson’s Semi-Society’ shows that Ada Leverson’s graphic account (1930) of how after his release from prison Oscar, on seeing his old friends again, used his charm and wit to dispel all feelings of unease, had a predecessor. In Frank Richardson’s novel , published in 1903,Vincent Skrene, like Oscar, re-entered the world after his imprisonment and wished to make everyone feel at ease. The similarities are remarkable.
HORST SCHROEDER considers how very fascinated Wilde was by Mallarmé (and the other way round) in ‘Oscar Wilde’s and Stéphane Mallarme’s First Meeting and Mallarmé’s Presentation Copy’.
He quotes Gustave Le Rouge: ‘The two poets sincerely admired one another and held each other in mutual esteem.’
KIRBY JORIS analyses how Gyles Brandreth is currently re-imagining Oscar Wilde in his series of nine novels (of which five have been published so far) in ‘Remodelling Oscar: Gyles Brandreth’s ‘Oscar Wilde Murder Mysteries’ . Oscar’s image prevails at all times, but it is multi-faceted, remodelled and revealed by means of minute modifications, plausible although fictional. As a detective, Oscar Wilde is a convincing and nicely drawn character.
ANTONY EDMONDS contributes his inimitable ‘Ballad of Worthing Beach’. “The blithe primrose path Wilde was treading/ Was a cut-off relentlessly heading/ To the less flowery trail/ Via Pentonville jail/ To wretched confinement in Reading.” The accompanying notes are both entertaining and informative.
PETER ROWLAND, in the first part of ‘Virginia’s Wilde Thoughts’, quotes Wyndham Lewis saying that there is a very much closer connection than people suppose between the aesthetic movement presided over by Oscar Wilde, and that presided over in the first post-war decade by Virginia Woolf. He traces her ventures into Wildean territory when she reviewed Vernon Lee’s Chapters on Art and Life and Robert Ross’s Masques and Phases.
ERIC PUDNEY in ‘Paradox and the Preface to Dorian Gray considers whether the Preface is a convenient defence against the unpleasant insinuations of hostile critics, a joke that Wilde shared with himself, or an expression of Wilde’s profound love of paradox which always tempered his apparent embrace of Aestheticism.
MICHAEL SEENEY finds that Éibhear Walshe’s ‘Oscar’s Shadow: Wilde, Homosexuality and Modern Ireland is an exercise in historiography which throws little new light on Wilde, but gives an interesting insight into the beliefs and ideas of Wilde commentators.
DONALD MEAD considers Gerald Hanberry’s More Lives Than One: The Remarkable Wilde Family Through the Generations to be a lively account of the families of Oscar’s parents and of Oscar himself, written in an illuminating and popular style.
J.D. MURPHY reviews The Dublin Years – The Lost Journal of Bram Stoker. It is not only for Stoker completists but will appeal to the casual reader, giving a flavour of the Dublin of Oscar’s time.
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The Wildean No. 40 was issued in January 2012
MARK SAMUELS LASNER and JOHN A. QUINTUS in ‘In defence of Oscar Wilde: Alexander Cohen’s Contribution to The Torch’ reproduce for the first time in its entirety the Dutch anarchist’s passionate defence of Wilde in the radical periodical edited by Olive and Helena Rossetti. It is one of the few public utterances in Wilde’s favour to appear at the time of his trials and conviction.
ANTONY EDMONDS in his illustrated article ‘Oscar Wilde and the Worthing “Festivals’’’ recounts Wilde’s attendance at the Venetian Fete, the Regatta, the Lifeboat Demonstration and other ‘Festivals’ during his family holiday in Worthing in August and September 1894, with quotations from reports in the Worthing Gazette. These give delightful glimpses of Oscar during the last largely carefree summer of his life.
ANTONY EDMONDS imagines in ‘In the Footsteps of Oscar Wilde: A Sequence of Old Photographs of Worthing’ that on a beautiful morning in late August 1894 Oscar and Bosie walk from the Esplanade to Worthing Pier for a late-morning sailing-boat outing with Alphonse Conway, his friend Stephen, and Percy, and back through the town. The article is illustrated with maps and thirty-five postcards – four in colour. These give a vivid picture of the town as Wilde knew it: the pier with its kiosks, the street traffic, shops, and beaches with bathing huts, bathing tents and rowing boats.
BERNARD RICHARDS in ‘Oscar Wilde and Ruskin’s Road’ considers one of the most picturesque and well-known episodes in Wilde’s life – his involvement with Ruskin’s road-building in North Hinksey when he was an undergraduate at Oxford. Wilde loved and revered Ruskin. Ruskin believed that manual dexterity was a key component of artistic creativity. The road-building project set out to beautify the road, and to promote the doctrine of work amongst the privileged members of society.
MICHAEL SEENEY in ‘Maurice Schwabe: A Name on a Piece of Paper’ sets out what is known about Maurice Schwabe who played an active part in the lives of Wilde and Alfred Douglas but whose name went – almost – unmentioned in the Wilde trials. He fills in more detail of Schwabe’s life than has previously been available, and quotes two letters from Douglas to Schwabe which were recently ‘discovered’ in the National Library of New South Wales. Bosie’s language is extraordinarily explicit and the letters demonstrate a much closer relationship than had previously been thought and seem to confirm that Oscar and Bosie shared their conquests.
NEIL McKENNA tells the story of the extraordinary lives of two young Victorian sodomites, ‘a story of foolishness, of foolhardiness, and, it must be said, of formidable courage’ in ‘ “There was an old person of Sark” – The Strange Story of Fanny and Stella.’
ELISABETH MANSÉN in ‘A Splendid New Picture of Jane Francesca Wilde?’ discusses a photograph, published for the first time outside Sweden, in the deposition of Lotten von Kræmer in the Royal Library, Stockholm. She considers its provenance, compares it with the known likenesses of Lady Wilde, and assesses whether it may be a newly identified picture of her.
ALEXANDER GINGELL in ‘Will Self’s Dorian: An Imitation. Homage, Parody or Misrepresentation?’ compares Wilde’s novel and Self’s book which, according to the publisher’s blurb, ‘set against the Aids epidemic of the 1980s and ‘90s was a shameless reworking of our most significant myth of shamelessness.’ He finds that in scaling heights of pornography Self is unable to recapture any of the beauty of Wilde’s original, as any evocative moments are buried amidst the offensive depravity’.
MICHAEL SEENEY reviews Salomé’s Modernity by Petra Dierkes-Thrun. It is a thesis on why Salomé should be considered a modernist work but does not give much consideration to the changing face of modernity. It emphasises the historical background with more attention to productions than to interpretations. He also reviews Joseph Donohue’s new translation of Salomé in ‘a colloquial and spare American English version’ of Wilde’s French text. He praises an excellent introduction and the masterful woodcuts by Barry Moser which illustrate the book, but finds the translation only partially successful in turning Wilde’s consciously stylised French prose poem into ‘language essentially no different from what my intended audience might use outside the theatre’.
PETER ROWLAND contributes a postscript to Judith Paltin’s article on ‘Algy’s Romantic Blunder’ in The Wildean No. 39 finding observations by Cecily in the four-act version of Earnest.
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The Wildean: A Journal of Oscar Wilde Studies is a publication of permanent interest and back copies of previous issues are available.
To quote Professor Joseph Bristow,
'The Wildean is brimful of good things'.
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The Society’s programme of forthcoming events, with booking forms, is published in Intentions, a Journal/Newsletter which is issued to all members about five times a year.
Intentions, edited by Michael Seeney, is fully illustrated in colour and also gives information about public performances of Wilde plays, other theatrical occasions and films. In each issue there is a detailed survey of newly published books of Wildean interest, with publishing details, synopses and comment.
Intentions is also a journal of record for Society events. To take just a few examples:
At recent Birthday Dinners the Society has enjoyed a talk by Simon Wilson on Jacob Epstein’s Wilde monument in Père Lachaise, and Oliver Parker’s rare and generous insight into the film-making process including the problems of bringing Dorian Gray to the screen. Neil McKenna (author of The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde) gave a talk on ‘Edward Shelley: A Boy of Some Importance’ and Rick Gekoski an authoritative and very entertaining lesson in how to form a book collection, including the formation and disposal of the John Simpson Collection.
At recent Society lunches Neil McKenna talked about 'Fanny and Stella' (Boulton and Park); Thomas Wright and Simon Scardifield presented 'Oscar's Books' ; Don Mead and Thomas Wright presented 'Oscar Wilde: The Women of Homer'; and Gyles Brandreth gave some background to his series of detective stories featuring Wilde; and Joy Melville spoke on Ellen Terry.
Intentions records the Society’s visits including those to Paris for the commemoration by Société Oscar Wilde en France of Wilde’s re-interment at Père Lachaise , and to Reading Gaol (copiously illustrated with contemporary and archive photographs and drawings) and
Intentions publishes interesting and unusual items culled from sometimes obscure sources. Recent issues contain an article by Constance Wilde in The Young Woman on 'How to Decorate a House'; a review by Willie Wilde of a performance of 'Helena in Troas'; and an article in Harper's Weekly in January 1882 about Wilde 'Our Aesthetic Visitor'.
Intentions regularly reproduces advertisements, rare trade cards and other commercially produced items connected with Oscar Wilde and his works.
Click here to see a recent example of Intentions
Special publications for members include Don Mead's guides prepared for the Society visits to places associated with Wilde. Oscar Wilde in Paris was recently reissued on the occasion of the Society’s participation in the commemoration of the re-interment of Wilde’s remains at Père Lachaise organised by Société Oscar Wilde en France. Oscar Wilde in Dublin, and Oscar Wilde in Dieppe and Berneval were also updated for successive visits. The various sites are identified in the notes, so that the booklets may also be of use to the unaccompanied visitor.
Copyright 2013 - The Oscar Wilde Society