Open Forum: Wilde and Salome

“A Wilde Idea, or More Injustice to Ireland!”  Punch cartoon by J. B[ernard] P[artridge], 9 July 1892.

In two separate newspaper interviews at the time when Salomé was being considered by the London theater censor (and subsequently banned), Wilde stated his opposition and intent to leave England for France once and for all:

“If the Censure refuses Salomé […] I shall leave England and settle in France, where I will take out letters of naturalization.  I will not consent to call myself a citizen of a country that shows such narrowness in its artistic judgement.  […] I am not English; I’m Irish—which is quite another thing” (Oscar Wilde, “The Censure and Salomé,” interview, The Pall Mall Budget, xl, 30 June 1892, 947, quoted in E.H. Mikhail [ed.], Oscar Wilde: Interviews and Recollections, vol. 1, 188).

“My resolution is deliberately taken.  Since it is impossible to have a work of art performed in England, I shall transfer myself to another fatherland, of which I have long been enamoured.  There is but one Paris, voyez-vous, and Paris is France.  It is the abode of artists; nay, it is la ville artiste.  I adore Paris” (“La Salomé de M. Oscar Wilde,” Le Gaulois, June 29, 1892, 1, quoted from ibid.)

The unsympatheticNew York Times reported on July 3, 1892:  “[a]ll London is laughing at Oscar Wilde’s threat to become a Frenchman” (cited in Richard Ellmann, Oscar Wilde, 373).

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