with pagan forms
of idolatry, as they re-emerged in nineteenth century’s
cultural image repertoire to subvert and/or reconfirm Christianity
caught in a ‘crisis in belief, is suggested by OscarWilde’s interpretation of a Renaissance anecdote: ‘In
1485 some workmen digging on the Appian Way came across an old Roman
sarcophagus inscribed with the name “Julia, daughter of
of the century, the Victorian cult of death had transmuted into a
pervasive sense of decay, as libertines such as OscarWilde’s
Dorian Gray and ancient evils such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula 4 embodied the fears of a
generation, for whom the foreign horde threatened to overrun the
imperial capital whilst the Englishman himself became a corrupt shadow
of his former heroic self.
In the United States
way, to sexological readings of
gender that argue for a disjunction between sexual orientation and
gender performance. The figure of the masculine homosexual, for example,
appears to conceal same-sex desire and this is an issue which played an
important role in the trials, and indeed in the writings, of OscarWilde
which are discussed in Chapter 6 . As we shall see,
Wilde’s camp performance covertly
‘All men kill the thing they
love’, OscarWilde had written fifteen years previously; 18 but the real question
here is about anthropomorphism, and about what this textual, rhetorical
move to spread the emotion of jealousy across the natural world achieves
and what it runs the danger of destroying. 19 What seems to me most interesting
here is the extraordinary complexity of the phrases around the
OscarWilde sort’. 2 A recent thesaurus gaily mixes together desires, deeds and descriptors in coming up with more than eight hundred synonyms for gay male (from ‘A-gay’ to ‘zebrajox’) and 230 for lesbian (from ‘Amazon’ to ‘zamie girl’). 3 The ‘Juliet question’ – ‘What’s in a name?’ – is just as pertinent and unresolved a decade after Hensher wrote; but he exaggerated the demise of ‘queer’, at least in the academy and upon university campuses, where it remains in robust health.
Of all the possible terms, queer is perhaps the most contentious. Before the
twin who is socially and temperamentally different from him. The
influence behind it is more likely to be Shakespeare’s
Errors than OscarWilde’s The Importance of Being
Earnest , because of the curious celebrity of the former in
India, in different language-speaking communities. Richard Allen argues
that there is a special affinity between The Comedy of Errors and
feels after he is hit by
the young officer Ouless, leading to a cathartic fight, can be read in sexual terms
as desire, frustration and release.
43 John Moray Stuart-Young, the subject of a 2006 study by Stephanie Newell, was
brought up in one of the poorest areas of Manchester. Working as a clerk he
funded the lifestyle of a well-off aesthete by embezzling from his employer. He
began to write to his literary heroes, among them OscarWilde, Edward Carpenter
and Rudyard Kipling. In later memoirs he claimed that he was lifted out of
Manchester by the intervention of
resort to this mainly – though not only –
when their opportunities for meaningful talking and voting break down.
Thinking about the politics of violent dissent has a long history in
political thought. OscarWilde, not normally regarded as a political
thinker, noted in The Soul of Man Under Socialism:
Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through
disobedience and rebellion. (1997, 899)
Not everyone will agree with Wilde’s statement, though Hegel’s claim
Hannan (eds), Gender and Material Culture in Britain since 1600 (London: Palgrave
Macmillan, 2016), 68–89 ; Karen Harvey, ‘Men of parts: masculine embodiment
and the male leg in eighteenth-century England’, Journal of British Studies 54:4
(2015), 797–821; Dominic Janes, OscarWilde Prefigured: Queer Fashioning and
British Caricature, 1750–1900 (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press,
2016); Declan Kavanagh, Effeminate Years: Literature, Politics, and Aesthetics in
Mid-Eighteenth-Century Britain (Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 2017);
‘Becoming the Dada Body: Masks, Dance and Mime’, in Dada 1916 in
Theory: Practices of Critical Resistance (Liverpool: Liverpool University
Press, 2014), pp. 54, 66.
6 Cravan to Loy, 16 December 1917, in ŒPAL, p. 165.
7 Cravan to Loy, 25 December 1917, in ŒPAL, pp. 172–4.
8 ‘Je t’aime, je t’aime, je t’aime.’ Cravan to Loy, 16 December 1917, in ŒPAL,
9 Cravan to Loy, 18 December 1917, in ŒPAL, p. 166.
10 André Gide, OscarWilde: A Study, trans. Stuart Mason (Oxford: Holywell
Press, 1905), p. 84.
11 The only verifiable Cornell in the Cravan