History of Literature










Oscar Wilde


I. "The Ballad of Reading Gaol"

"The Paradox"


II. "The Picture of Dorian Gray"




III. Oscar Wilde "Salome" Illustrations by Beardsley



 

Salome

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Salome (or in French: Salomé ) is a tragedy by Oscar Wilde. The original 1891 version of the play was in French. Three years later an English translation was published. The play tells in one act the Biblical story of Salome, stepdaughter of the tetrarch Herod Antipas, who, to her stepfather's dismay but to the delight of her mother Herodias, requests the head of Jokanaan (John the Baptist) on a silver platter as a reward for dancing the Dance of the Seven Veils.
 

Salome (Greek: Σαλωμη, Salōmē), the Daughter of Herodias (c AD 14 - between 62 and 71), is known from the New Testament (Mark 6:17-29 and Matt 14:3-11, where, however, her name is not given). Another source from Antiquity, Flavius Josephus's Jewish Antiquities, gives her name and some detail about her family relations.

Name in Hebrew reads שלומית (Shlomit) and is derived from Shalom שלום, meaning "peace".

Christian traditions depict her as an icon of dangerous female seductiveness, for instance depicting as erotic her dance mentioned in the New Testament (in some later transformations further iconised to the dance of the seven veils), or concentrate on her lighthearted and cold foolishness that, according to the gospels, led to John the Baptist's death.

A new ramification was added by Oscar Wilde, who in his play Salome let her degenerate into a necrophiliac, killed the same day as the man whose death she had requested. This last interpretation, made even more memorable by Richard Strauss's opera based on Wilde, is not consistent with Josephus's account; according to the Romanized Jewish historian, she lived long enough to marry twice and raise several children. Few literary accounts elaborate the biographical data given by Josephus.

 


Rehearsals for the play's debut on the London stage began in 1892, but were halted when the Lord Chamberlain's licensor of plays banned Salomé on the basis that it was illegal to depict Biblical characters on the stage. The play was first published in French in 1893, and an English translation, with illustrations by Aubrey Beardsley, in 1894. On the Dedication page, Wilde indicated that his lover Lord Alfred Douglas was the translator. In fact, Wilde and Douglas had quarrelled over the latter's translation of the text which had been nothing short of disastrous given his poor mastery of French — though Douglas claimed that the errors were really in Wilde's original play. Beardsley and the publisher John Lane got drawn in when they sided with Wilde. In a gesture of reconciliation, Wilde did the work himself but dedicated Douglas as the translator rather than having them sharing their names on the title-page. Douglas compared a dedication to sharing the title-page as "the difference between a tribute of admiration from an artist and a receipt from a tradesman."

The play eventually premiered in Paris in 1896, while Wilde was in prison. When asked why he had chosen to write Salomé in French, Wilde cited Maeterlinck as an example of the interesting effect resulting when an author writes in a language not his own.


Maud Allan as Salomé with the head of John the Baptist in an early adaptation of Wilde's play


In June 1906 the play was presented privately with A Florentine Tragedy by the Literary Theatre Society at King's Hall, Covent Garden. The Lord Chamberlain's ban was not lifted for almost forty years; the first public performance of Salomé in England was at the Savoy Theatre on October 5, 1931.

In 1992 the play was performed on Broadway at the Circle in the Square Theatre, under the direction of Robert Allan Ackerman. Sheryl Lee starred as the title role alongside Al Pacino. The play costarred Suzanne Bertish, Esai Morales and Arnold Vosloo.
 

 


 

Oscar Wilde "Salome"

Illustrations by Beardsley


 

 




 




 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



 

 

 
 
 
 
 

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