19 April 1893

On this day in 1893: Oscar Wilde’s A Woman of No Importance opens at the Haymarket Theatre, London.

5 comments

  • Hello,

    I’ve been reading your blog and was wondering if I could e-mail you regarding some suggestions on reading material for Wilde? I’m currently writing a 2nd year grad thesis on Dorian Gray. My subject is a little particular and any help would be VERY much appreciated. If you have the time, please send me an e-mail. I’m assuming it shows up on your end through the information form below. If not, I’ll post it here. Thanks and hope to hear from you soon.

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    • Hi, Max. Thanks for reading the blog! Feel free to post a question and I’ll help if I can.

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      • Well, my thesis is on flowers in Dorian Grey and to be honest there isn’t very much “academic” material on the subject. Last year I briefly mentioned this on your blog and you had some suggestions regarding articles on Oscholars. Unfortunately I can’t find the link to your comment so your suggestions were lost. If you have any reading material that discusses flowers in Wilde’s work, or even specifically in Dorian Gray, it would be a great help to my research. Thanks again and keep up the good work 🙂

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      • In his chapter on ‘Dorian Gray’ in ‘Is Heathcliff a Murderer?’, John Sutherland suggests that flowers are used anachronistically in the novel, with flowers being in bloom and scented at the wrong time of year. This could signal Dorian’s ‘unnatural’ tendencies and/or his disruption of time and mortality as the man who remains forever young. Sutherland also points out that the novel, against Anglo-Saxon tradition, frequently refers to the sense of smell. (I find it interesting that Wilde’s contemporary and family friend, Bram Stoker, uses smell to elicit taboos and horror in ‘Dracula’.)

        In No. 37 of ‘The Wildean’ (July 2010), a journal published by the Oscar Wilde Society (UK), E. Charles Nelson refutes Sutherland’s claims that Wilde has the wrong flowers blooming together for the season. Nelson says that Sutherland doesn’t know enough about horticulture and weather patterns in Victorian times. Nelson thinks that Wilde’s use of flowers in ‘Dorian Gray’ is mostly realistic and accurate. I can’t reproduce Nelson’s essay for copyright reasons but if there are no libraries that hold copies of the Society’s journal, perhaps you can contact the Society for help.

        Wilde was critical of realism and sought to be associated with Symbolists and Decadents such as Mallarme, Gautier and Baudelaire. Knowing this, and Wilde’s delight in the ‘unnatural’ carnation, dyed green, and his assertion of the superiority of culture and art over nature, I’m inclined to think that Wilde’s use of flowers in his work is symbolic and not intended to mimic horticultural facts.

        Then again, Wilde was a stylist, and sometimes revelled in using a word simply for the aesthetic pleasure of its sound, and style may have trumped factual accuracy when Wilde was choosing flowers.

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      • Thank you very much for your help! I will definitely check out those resources. Please keep up the good work! Your blog is an asset to budding scholars of Wilde :-)…

        Best regards,
        Max

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