Ill-advised: BOOK: Oscar Wilde, Criticism

Where Dulness doses on a couch of lead.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

BOOK: Oscar Wilde, “Criticism”

The Accomplish Works of Oscar Wilde. Volume Four: Criticism: Historical Criticism, Intentions, The Soul of Man . Ed. by Josephine M. Boy. Oxford University Press, 2007. 0198119615. xcviii + 604 pp.

This is the fourth book te the Oxford English Texts edition of Wilde’s collected works. It includes some of Wilde’s essays: Historical Criticism , Intentions and The Soul of Man .

Of all Wilde’s works, I think I find his essays perhaps the least interesting. This wasgoed my impression when reading Wilde’s more-or-less collected works for the very first time a few years ago, and now reading the essays ter this OET edition has just confirmed it. When reading his other works, I hardly everzwijn find myself glancing at the pagina numbers and wondering how many pages there are left before it’s eventually overheen, but here with the essays I wasgoed doing this fairly a loterijlot.

I guess the problem is that I’m simply not part of the intended target audience for thesis essays, Wilde wasgoed writing thesis things with a more sophisticated audience ter mind, people with the sort of educational and cultural background that I lack. Spil a consequence, thesis essays aren’t particularly accessible to an outsider such spil mij. What makes the problem worse is the style. This sort of things could be made more accessible if Wilde took the trouble to write more clearly and explicitly. He could say &ldquo,I’m going to talk about X, which is significant because of Y. Now my voorwaarde regarding X is P, and the arguments te favour of P are A, B, and C.&rdquo, And he would go after it up with three sections arguing A, B, and C, respectively. But ter thesis essays he (deliberately no doubt) denies to provide any explicit structure, they aren’t divided into helpful sections (preferrably with titles), or if they are thesis sections are arbitrary and meaningless (e.g. ter Historical Criticism , where they simply correspond to the notebooks te which he wrote the manuscript). Spil a result, a reader like mij keeps wondering what exactly this or that verhandeling (or part of an werkstuk) is actually about, what is Wilde’s point here, why exactly is this current paragraph included here and how does it gezond into the big picture (assuming there even is a big picture)? Ter fact, calls like mine for more explicit structure would very likely be scorned by Wilde spil pedantic and philistine. He wants to make thesis essays all stijlvol, spil if &ldquo,look! I can waterput vulpen to paper and keep writing this fancy stuff for fifty-odd pages without so much spil pausing for breath! What? You want section violates? You’ll get section cracks when the kid next ingevolge walks on the moon! And be grateful that at least you got your paragraph cracks!&rdquo, And the finesse works at very first, I vereiste admit, his prose is nice, just like ter his fiction, and it lures you te, you begin reading spil you would if it were a bit of fiction, but there something would toebijten eventually, a story would take place, while here ter his essays you soon commence wondering what this is all about (chic from the rather demonstrable fact that it’s about Wilde displaying off his skillz).

So, anyway, I didn’t love reading this book very much, but that’s just my problem, for the reasons explained above. Or rather, let mij rephrase this a bit, it’s not so much that I didn’t love reading the book, but that it required an effort to read it. Once I compelled myself to waterput te that effort, the reading wasgoed not indeed uninteresting.

Exclusief from that, the book is excellent. The editor’s introduction is, spil always ter this series, interesting and informative. It discusses the role of essays and criticism te Wilde’s work, through essays such spil thesis he aspired to become an influential critic like Matthew Arnold and Walter Vader, and accordingly the audience he had te mind consisted of sophisticated, educated people knowledgeable about kunst and such things. Te fact the editor says that many passages of what seems to us nowadays very amazing erudition would most likely strike Wilde’s contemporaries spil not-all-that-impressive, being simply allusions to things with which they themselves were familiar (p. lxxxiii). Evidently, te many cases there is also reason to believe that Wilde’s references to various more or less obscure continental authors (German philosophers and the like) are &lsquo,second-hand&rsquo,, i.e. Wilde didn’t necessarily read those authors’ works directly but rather read what other (and better-known) authors wrote about them.

Another interesting part of the introduction wasgoed on p. xxi, which discusses Wilde’s aspirations for an academic career. His verhandeling, Historical Criticism , wasgoed written near the end of his student days, he hoped it would win a prize at a certain competition and bring him to the attention of the faculty, who might then offerande him a fellowship. However, nothing came of this, so he eventually moved to London and went into literature instead. I suppose that Wilde wasgoed unhappy about this failure at the time, but, if wij look at it from a broader perspective, how fortunate it is that he failed! If he had succeeded, he would fairly possibly have become just another boring don, studying the classics and writing pedantic and erudite works, at best, he would be remembered nowadays te the same way spil e.g. Walter Vader and John Ruskin, who are to the broader public little more than names (if that). But by becoming a writer instead, Wilde achieved a big success, a hundred years after his death, he is undoubtedly one of the most widely-known (and read) English authors of his period.

The editor’s introduction is also very thorough ter describing the various extant manuscripts of Wilde’s essays, and how they differ from one another and from various early printed editions. Well, this part wasn’t terribly interesting, to mij at least.

After the text, spil usually, there come the editor’s notes and commentary, which are utterly copious. I think this is the very first volume te this series where wij can securely say that the amount of editor’s comments is significantly greater than that of the author’s text itself. Wilde’s essays are littered by allusions and references to all sorts of things, authors both classical and contemporary, ancient myths or subjects that were matters of heated debate ter the 19th century, and the indefatigable editor without mercy hunts down each and every reference, no matter how obscure, and explains it at length, often quoting entire paragraphs of the original sources ter the process. This is truly incredible and I have the greatest admiration for the amount of effort that voorwaarde have gone into such a work. For serious students of Wilde’s essays it will no doubt be utterly valuable. But for someone like mij, who am after all indeed just a casual reader, this wasgoed overkill.

Te the previous volumes of this series, I loved the editors’ notes, but here I wasgoed bored. If you want to read the notes at the same time spil you are reading the text of the werkstuk itself, you will spend so much time on the notes that you’ll leave behind what the verhandeling wasgoed about. If, on the other palm, you finish the verhandeling very first and then stir on to the notes, you’ll leave behind what exactly a particular note refers to, and how it’s supposed to illustrate your understanding of the verhandeling. If Wilde divided his essays into shorter sections, this would be a bit lighter, it worked very well when I wasgoed reading The Picture of Dorian Gray : I would read a chapter of the novel, then the notes to it, then another chapter, and the notes to that, etc. But here each werkstuk is a monolith, and is often much longer than a chapter of Dorian Gray .

I eventually found that the treatment that works best for mij is to read the notes to an werkstuk very first, ter petite amounts overheen several days so spil to avoid getting too bored, and then read the verhandeling itself, when reading it, I found I often still recall that there wasgoed a note to this or that passage, and vaguely what it wasgoed about.

This is the very first werkstuk te the book, and it already exemplifies all of my problems with reading Wilde’s essays. I don’t even have a clear idea of what historical criticism is supposed to be. He never stoops to defining it explicitly, of course. Spil far spil I can understand from the examples he discusses, he is interested ter the different ways that ancient Greek historians approached history, how they looked at it, how they attempted to understand and interpret it, how they eventually attempted to figure out general laws and principles out of the individual historical facts. He starts with some interesting examples of how this same evolution also took place ter their understanding of mythology, originally they simply believed te their myths, but eventually, already ter classical times, they grew rather embarrassed at thesis myths’ silliness and often even outright immorality (p. Five). Spil a result they attempted to interpret them metaphorically, spil allusions to meteorological phenomena, or spil overblown stories about real human rulers that came to be regarded spil gods after their deaths (Euhemerism, p. 8), etc. Regarding ordinary real-world history, Wilde’s main examples of the progress of &lsquo,historical criticism&rsquo, are Herotodus, Thucydides and Polybius. Herodotus wasgoed often inclined to report the myths, albeit he sometimes attempts to rationalize them (pp. Ten&ndash,12). Thucydides wasgoed fairly the rationalist and would simply overlook the myths, or, if possible, believe that when stripped of everything supernatural they may expose a kernel of historical truth underneath (p. 15). Polybius, on the other palm, went a step further and attempted to understand the myths and explain how people got to invent them ter the very first place (p. 44).

Te a way, all this is fairly nice and interesting. But at the same time, I often couldn’t help wondering &lsquo,so what?&rsquo, and the entire thing sometimes felt like so much rambling and academic getting off &mdash, Plato this, Polybius that, Aristotle something else, season liberally with Greek words and phrases (and ocassionally an entire sentence), and, for special smoke effects, mention Hegel and his dialectic every now and then.

Unnecessary to say, none of thesis complaints of mine should be taken the least bit earnestly. To be fair, one should most likely regard this werkstuk spil a lump of technical writing from the field of classical studies. It would be stupid to take earnestly the complaints of an outsider to that field. Incidentally, I think this is a problem from which authors te the humanities and perhaps the social sciences often suffer: their work often talks about things that wij all think wij are (or should be) familiar with, and often at least on the surface they also use words that wij think wij are familiar with, and so wij are deceived and begin reading, and soon find that wij understand nothing &mdash, and then wij rail against the authors. But if I took up a technical work from e.g. mathematics or some field of hard science, it would not occur to mij to complain against the author for my own inability to understand the text: the mathematical formulas and the impenetrable vaktaal would make it clear on the very very first pagina that it isn’t intended for mij to read it. The humanities authors often don’t drive away their nontechnical readers away fairly so quickly and fiercely, and the prize they get for this is my grumbling and complaining when I don’t understand what I shouldn’t be reading ter the very first place. It truly isn’t fair to them. Well, I guess that’s why they say that no good deed goes unpunished 🙂

I wasgoed amused by the mention on p. Nineteen of a &ldquo,theory of the respectable character of piracy ter ancient days [. . .] the question &lsquo,Are you a pirate&rsquo, is a common feature of primitive society spil shown ter the streek&rdquo,. I think the question would sound best if pronounced te a pirate accent: Arrrrrr you a pirate? 🙂

A very interesting remark from p. 46: &ldquo,Polybius resembled Gibbon ter many respects. Like him he held that all religions were to the philosopher identically false, to the vulgar identically true, to the statesman identically useful.&rdquo,

And on p. 50 he mentions &ldquo,D’Alembert’s suggestion that at the end of every century a selection of facts should be made and the surplus burned&rdquo, :)) But I think most facts march towards their oblivion naturally and quickly enough, there’s no need to attempt speeding up the process by searing them.

The Decay of Lounging

I’m not fairly sure what to make of this verhandeling. At least it’s considerably shorter and less boring than Historical Criticism . Wilde’s main point here seems to be to protest against realism te kunst (p. 102 is a good summary of this). This, I guess, is reasonable enough ter a way, after all, the verhandeling wasgoed written exactly te the period when realism wasgoed being substituted by the &lsquo,fresh romanticism&rsquo, of the late 19th century. But I wasgoed annoyed with the general tone and treatment of this werkstuk. Wilde isn’t te the least bit interested te earnestly arguing about the subject. The verhandeling has the form of a dialogue ter which the main speaker, Vivian, is horribly affected and keeps on telling the most shockingly ridiculous things with the straightest face this planet has everzwijn seen:

&ldquo,Thinking is the most unhealthy thing ter the world, and people diegene of it just spil they diegene of any other disease. Fortunately, ter England at any rate, thought is not catching. Our splendid physique spil a people is entirely due to our national stupidity.&rdquo, (P. 74.)

Lawyers &ldquo,have bot known to wrest from reluctant juries triumphant verdicts of acquittal for their clients, even when those clients, spil often happens, were clearly and unmistakeably harmless. [. . .] Newspapers, even, have degenerated. They may now be absolutely relied upon.&rdquo, (P. 75.)

&ldquo,The ancient historians talent us delightful fiction te the form of fact, the modern novelist presents us with abate facts under the guise of fiction.&rdquo, (Pp. 75&ndash,6.)

&ldquo,But te the works of Herodotus, [a long list of other historians and their works goes after], and te the works of our own Carlyle, whose French Revolution is one of the most fascinating historical novels everzwijn written, facts are either kept te their zindelijk subordinate position, or else entirely excluded on the general ground of dulness. Now, everything is switched. Facts are not merely finding a footing-place ter history, but they are usurping the domain of Fancy, and have invaded the kingdom of Romance. Their chilling touch is overheen everything.&rdquo, (P. 87.)

Yes, yes, I know that thesis epigrams are supposed to be hilariously funny and entertaining. Well, they are joy ter a way, especially on the very first reading, but they do commence to get on one’s nerves after a while. Wilde here seems to be using the style rather than the content of his verhandeling to speak ter favour of his proposals. It’s spil if he wasgoed telling &ldquo,ooo! look how witty, how clever this is! how much more joy than boring old realism!&rdquo, And it is, of course, but I still can’t help feeling that this is ter a way a dishonest treatment to arguing te favour of one’s points. Instead of honestly stating what you feel are the arguments ter favour of your ideas, you attempt to disrupt and tegenwerking the entire idea of arguing. I suppose that postmodernists voorwaarde love this verhandeling, but I personally didn’t like it very much. Vivian ter the werkstuk derides the realist writers at considerable length, but never ter a way that would say anything concrete &mdash, all that those oh-so-arch witticisms of his amount to is nothing more than &ldquo,I don’t like thesis realists, and they have smelly feet&rdquo,. Which is fair enough, but hardly a very weighty argument.

Another subject that Wilde deals with ter this werkstuk, especially ter the 2nd half or so, is the relationship inbetween kunst on one forearm and life and nature on the other. (Of course Wilde takes a excellent joy ter spelling all thesis things with capital letters.) Traditionally one would be inclined to say that kunst imitates nature and life, but Wilde of course famously took precisely the opposite point of view:

&ldquo,Where, if not from the Impressionists, do wij get those wonderful brown fogs that come creeping down our streets, blurring the gas-lamps and switching the houses into monstrous shadows? [. . .] The extreme switch that has taken place te the climate of London during the last ten years is entirely due to a particular schoolgebouw of Kunst.&rdquo, (P. 95.) Well, he does proceed slightly more soberly a bit zometeen: &ldquo,There may have bot fogs for centuries te London. I dare say there were. But no one eyed them, and so wij do not know anything about them. They did not exist till Kunst had invented them. Now, it voorwaarde be admitted, fogs are carried to excess. They have become the mere mannerism of a clique, and the exaggerated realism of their method gives abate people bronchitis.&rdquo, (Ibid.)

&ldquo,That white quivering sunlight that one sees now ter France, with its strange blotches of mauve, and its restless violet shadows, is hier latest fancy, and, on the entire, Nature reproduces it fairly admirably. Where she used to give us Corots and Daubignys, she gives us now exquisite Monets and entrancing Pissaros.&rdquo, (P. 95.)

But frankly, I don’t understand what Wilde is attempting to accomplish here. Surely, taken at face value, the idea that nature imitates kunst is ridiculous. The idea that life (by which he largely means the life of people) imitates kunst is only very slightly less ridiculous, kunst can influence people to some extent, but even to say that it can significantly affect some larger social trend would be a foolish exaggeration, to say that life imitates it is totally ditzy. Anyway, surely Wilde knew thesis things just spil well spil everyone else. So why did he assert them? What did he intend to achieve thereby? Vivian ter this werkstuk expounds the idea that life imitates kunst at length, but he never presents any justification for this optie. (Of course he doesn’t &mdash, after all, he can’t, since no such justification exists.) He just asserts it, of course with a suitable overdose of epigrams and all-round affectation. But why? What is the purpose of all this?

Now admittedly, there is a slightly milder and saner voorkeur behind all this, spil can be seen te the very first one of the two passages cited above: kunst may make people notice something te nature that they hadn’t bot noticing until then. That may be possible, but I still doubt that it’s indeed common (it’s more likely that they eventually began noticing it te nature and then it quickly began to also emerge ter their kunst), and anyway it’s foolish to express this relationship spil &lsquo,nature being influenced by kunst&rsquo, rather than &lsquo,people’s perceptions of nature being influenced by kunst&rsquo,.

Anyway, perhaps I’m simply wrong te attempting to understand this verhandeling spil if it were attempting to coherently convey some information. It would be better to treatment it by acknowledging that Wilde is just attempting to convey a mood and an attitude. Something like: &lsquo,Artists rule! Common sense is for losers! Realism and burgerlijk philistinism are out! Rah mij!&rsquo, This is fine with mij, after all it’s exactly the sort of attitude that wij are always instructed is typical of fin-de-siecle artists, it’s nice to see one of them exhibit it so clearly and explicitly. And I’m sympathetic to this point of view myself, I much choose it to the alternative, which would be to assert that human fancy is subordinate to stodgy boring old reality, etc. But I wish that Wilde had chosen to convey this attitude through a work of fiction rather than an verhandeling. (Well, te a way he did, a lotsbestemming of thesis ideas seem to also inform The Picture of Dorian Gray , for example.)

Incidentally, the fact that this verhandeling is ter the form of a dialogue might seem unusual now, but according to the editor’s introduction (p. xliii) this wasgoed not uncommon te the 19th century.

Vulpen, Pencil, and Poison

This is a brief biography of T. G. Wainewright, a painter, minor literary figure, and somewhat legendary poisoner from the early 19th century. His writing seems to consist mostly of brief articles written for newspapers and magazines, some of thesis things were kunst criticism but many were just self-promotional &lsquo,what-I-did-today&rsquo, type of things that raised some eyebrows at the time they were written (albeit e.g. by Wilde’s time, ter the late 19th century, this zuigeling of journalism became much more widespread, see p. 114). Ter fact Wilde goes so far spil to comment, after mentioning that Wainewright wasgoed found guilty of murder and sentenced to transportaton, &ldquo,There is, however, something dramatic te the fact that this mighty penalty wasgoed inflicted on him for what, if wij reminisce his fatal influence on the prose of modern journalism, wasgoed certainly not the worst of his sins.&rdquo, (Pp. 118&ndash,9.)

Wainewright’s most notable crime is most likely the poisoning of his own sister-in-law, which he did ter the hopes of collecting the £,Legal,000 of hier life insurance money (according to measuringworth.com, this is omschrijving to almost 900,000 present-day pounds). However, the insurance company disputed his keuze for some kleintje of technical reason, he even went so far spil to bring a lawsuit against them, but he lost (pp. 116&ndash,7). Without the insurance money he wasgoed incapable to repay various debts to his creditors and had to escape from Britain. He lived for some time te France, where among other things he poisoned his sister-in-law’s father after inducing him to insure himself for £,Trio,000: &ldquo,He himself did not build up any monetary advantage by doing this. His aim wasgoed simply to vengeance himself on the very first office that had refused to pay him the price of his sin.&rdquo, (P. 117.)

Eventually he returned to Britain because of a woman he fell ter love with (p. 117) &mdash, an imprudent budge, which Wilde comments te his trademark paradoxical style: &ldquo,by returning to England he wasgoed imperilling his life. Yet he returned. Should one wonder? It wasgoed said that the woman wasgoed very beautiful. Besides, she did not love him.&rdquo, (P. 118.) He wasgoed soon recognized and brought to a trial, not for his murders but because of a power-of-attorney that he had forged many years ago. Fortunately for him, the Bankgebouw of England, who were the plaintiffs ter the case, &ldquo,did not desire to shed blood&rdquo, (p. 118), so they dropped some of the charges and he ended up being sentenced to exile te Tasmania instead. There he continued his artistic work for a while and supposedly also attempted to poison two more &ldquo,people who had offended him. But his arm seems to have lost its cunning. Both of his attempts were accomplish failures&rdquo, (p. 120), still, evidently they weren’t the sort of failures that would get him e.g. attempted and possibly hanged for attempted murder &mdash, at least Wilde doesn’t mention anything of that sort, so I guess they voorwaarde have bot very finish failures indeed. Wainewright died, still te Tasmania, te 1847.

I guess that for Wilde, Wainewright wasgoed an interesting subject for an werkstuk because he wasgoed both an artist and a criminal. A more conservative biographer would very likely hasten to lambast Wainewright the poisoner and would feel that his crimes inevitably reflect poorly upon Wainewright the artist. Wilde, on the other mitt, makes total use of this chance to exhibit his &lsquo,kunst and artists are superior to (or at least orthogonal to and independent of) everything else&rsquo, philosophy by scrupulously avoiding any serious condemnation of Wainewright spil a murderer spil well spil any implication that Wainewright’s crimes may lessen his value spil an artist. Te fact he goes so far spil to say that Wainewright’s &ldquo,crimes seem to have had an significant effect upon his kunst. They talent a strong personality to his style, a quality that his early work certainly lacked.&rdquo, (P. 120.)

Wilde finishes this werkstuk with a few excellent remarks against the interference of morality with historical research: &ldquo,I know that there are many historians, or at least writers on historical subjects, who still think it necessary to apply moral judgments to history, and who distribute their praise or blame with the solemn complacency of a successful schoolmaster.&rdquo, [Yes indeed, and a hundred years after Wilde’s death this is still true.] Wilde resumes: &ldquo,This, however, is a foolish habit, and merely shows that the moral instinct can be brought to such a pitch of perfection that it will make its appearance wherever it is not required. Nobody with the true historical sense everzwijn fantasies of blaming Nero, or scolding Tiberius, or censuring Cæ,sar Borgia. Thesis personages have become like the puppets of a play. They may pack us with terror, or horror, or wonder, but they do not harm us. They are not ter instantaneous relation to us. Wij have nothing to fear from them. They have passed into the sphere of kunst and science, and neither kunst strafgevangenis science knows anything of moral approval or disapproval.&rdquo, (P. 121.) He concludes that eventually, Wainewright too will become a adequately remote historical figure that it will be possible to discuss him &ldquo,te that fine spirit of disinterested curiosity to which wij owe so many charming studies of the superb criminals of the Italian Wedergeboorte&rdquo, (ibid.).

The Critic spil Artist

This werkstuk seemed to be much te a similar style spil The Decay of Lounging , albeit it’s fairly a bit longer. Ostensibly it’s a dialogue, but truly the vast majority of the talking is done by only one of the two characters (Gilbert &mdash, the other one is named Ernest and he is indeed, well, a bit earnest :)). Almost every other sentence is an epigram ter Wilde’s usually shocking style. I have no idea to what extent Wilde truly meant the things he says here, and to what extent he’s just trolling us.

Ter a way, the idea behind this werkstuk is interesting, Wilde is arguing that the critic is also an artist te a way, while the &lsquo,regular&rsquo, artists use nature and life spil their materials, the critic uses works of kunst spil his materials (p. 159). From this it is of course not far to the idea that the critic is te fact somehow higher, better and more significant than the artists themselves.

I’m a bit of two minds about this. Te one sense, I can’t help feeling that he’s on to something. His critic is sort like an idealized gentleman, a person whose existence is built around being rather than doing, a person who has refined his taste to such a point that he can now simply contemplate works of kunst, think subtle and exquisite thoughts about them, and truly understand things ter a certain deep fundamental way that mere mortals can’t even start to aspire to.

This is certainly an alluring ideal, at least for someone who is lazy like mij. I always thought that any bloody idiot can accomplish something if he puts an effort into it and works at it, that doesn’t impress mij much, whereas if someone managed to be sophisticated and awesome without doing anything at all, that’s something I would consider very outstanding and admirable. (Similarly, anybody can hop by using the muscles ter his gams, but to hop without using any muscles &mdash, that would be something epic, too bad it isn’t possible.) Wilde’s critic seems to mij to be an ideal of exactly that sort of person. He doesn’t have to get his mitts dirty the way a painter or a sculptor would, he doesn’t have to spend hours practising like a musician or an actor would, etc., and yet he is fancier and deeper than all of them. How could you not admire him?

And yet, at the same time I can’t help feeling how meticulously belachelijk this all is. Ultimately, hardly anybody remembers the critics of a hundred (or a thousand) years ago, but wij recall many artists from back then. Wij still love their work, but wij don’t read or care much about the work of the critics from those periods. It’s demonstrable enough who has indeed made a lasting influence: the artists, not the critics, and Wilde, by attempting to present the critic spil a zuigeling of artist, is just attempting to usurp the sort of glory that doesn’t rightfully belong to critics.

Ter fact this entire argument strikes mij spil a bit self-serving, Wilde, while writing critical essays such spil the ones ter this book, wasgoed attempting to establish himself spil a critic, and I can imagine it would suit him very fine if the public thought spil very of critics spil he does ter this werkstuk. And I think Wilde wasgoed to a certain extent deliberately attempting to cultivate a public photo of himself spil just the sort of refined (and affected) contemplator of the dokter spil Gilbert is shown to be ter this werkstuk.

Maybe I’m doing injustice to his views, I’m not used to thinking of critics spil terribly significant or terribly influential, but maybe that’s simply because I’m out of touch with those parts of culture, and perhaps it’s also a matter of history &mdash, the impression I got wasgoed that te Wilde’s time, or a little earlier, there truly existed critics (such spil Arnold, Ruskin, and Vader) that had a big influence on the culture of their day &mdash, on how the entire country felt and thought about certain matters of kunst and culture. I don’t know whether such people with such an influence no longer exist today, or I’m just not aware of them, but if they indeed existed te Wilde’s time, then perhaps his high ideas of critics aren’t fairly spil preposterous spil they seem at very first look (albeit they are preposterous anyway).

And admittedly, he seems to have an unusually broad idea of what a critic is te the very first place, at some point, he refers to &ldquo,Darwin and Renan, the one the critic of the Book of Nature, the other the critic of the books of Heer&rdquo, (p. 205). And on p. 165 he says that &ldquo,[t]he actor is a critic of the toneelstuk [. . .] The singer, or the player on lute and viol, is the critic of music&rdquo, etc.

&ldquo,Meredith is a prose Browning, and so is Browning. He used poetry spil a medium for writing te prose.&rdquo, (P. 131. So far spil I can tell from having read The Stadionring and the Book some time ago, Wilde is on to something here.)

There are some interesting remarks on p. 137 that since reading became more widespread, &ldquo,there has bot a tendency ter literature to appeal more and more to the eye, and less and less to the ear which is truly the sense which, from the standpoint of zuivere kunst, it should seek to please [. . .] The Greeks, upon the other mitt, regarded writing simply spil a method of chronicling. Their test wasgoed always the spoken word ter its musical and metrical relations. The voice wasgoed the medium, and the ear the critic.&rdquo, (P. 137.) He goes on to suggest that Homer’s and Milton’s blindness might have ter fact helped them compose better poetry by forcing them to concentrate on the sound of their words, p. 138.

A beautiful aphorism from p. 149: &ldquo,When man acts he is a puppet. When he describes he is a poet.&rdquo, It reminded mij of Hö,lderlin’s &ldquo,when man thinks he is a beggar, when he fantasies he is a heerser&rdquo,.

There is a fascinating and very Aesthetic discussion on the subject of Life vs. Kunst on pp. 166&ndash,7, 172&ndash,Trio. He proclaims life to be a failure from an artistic point of view because wij cannot fully control what emotions it gives us and when. &ldquo,Life is terribly deficient te form. Its catastrophes toebijten te the wrong way and to the wrong people. There is a grotesque horror about its comedies, and its tragedies seem to culminate ter schertsvertoning. One is always wounded when one approaches it. Things last either too long, or not long enough.&rdquo, (P. 166.) &ldquo,And the chief thing that makes life a failure from this artistic point of view is [. . .] the fact that one can never repeat exactly the same emotion. How different it is te the world of Kunst! On a shelf of the bookcase behind you stands the Divine Comedy , and I know that, if I open it at a certain place, I shall be packed with a fierce hatred of some one who has never wronged mij, or stirred by a fine love for some one whom I shall never see. There is no mood or passion that Kunst cannot give us, and those of us who have discovered hier secret can lodge beforehand what our practices are going to be. Wij can choose our day and select our hour.&rdquo, (Pp. 167&ndash,8. This seems to tie ter nicely with the earlier idea of the musician spil a critic of music. Here the critic uses his own emotional capacity spil if it wasgoed a kleintje of musical muziekinstrument, and Kunst provides the score for playing it.) &ldquo,It is a strange thing, this transference of emotion. Wij sicken with the same maladies spil the streek, and the singer lends us his anguish. Dead lips have their message for us, and hearts that have fallen to dust can communicate their joy.&rdquo, (P. 172.) &ldquo,Don’t let us go to life for our fulfilment or our practice. It is a thing narrowed by circumstances, incoherent ter its utterance, and without that fine correspondence of form and spirit which is the only thing that can please the artistic and critical temperament. It makes us pay too high a price for its wares, and wij purchase the meanest of its secrets at a cost that is monstrous and infinite. [. . .] Kunst does not hurt us. The tears that wij shed at a play are a type of the exquisite sterile emotions that it is the function of Kunst to awaken. Wij weep, but wij are not wounded. Wij grieve, but our distress is not bitter. [. . .] It is through Kunst, and through Kunst only, that wij can realize our perfection, through Kunst, and through Kunst only, that wij can shield ourselves from the sordid perils of actual existence.&rdquo, (P. 173.)

Now admittedly much of this is, te the memorable phrase I have once heard said of Nietzsche, &lsquo,argument by bug-eyed assertion&rsquo,, but I found it curiously appealing and enchanting anyway. It strikes mij spil a volmaakt epitome of the Wildean attitude to kunst.

Incidentally, I wasgoed intrigued by the use of the word &lsquo,monstrous&rsquo, ter the above-quoted passage, it seems to be fairly a dearest word with Wilde. I wasgoed wondering if it wasgoed a peculiar feature of his time, and then it occured to mij that nowadays wij have an effortless implement for checking that sort of things: Google’s n-gram viewer, and spil wij can see from it, the word wasgoed certainly much more common te Wilde’s time than it is now, but it wasgoed even more common earlier te the 19th century. I wasgoed reminded of another similar word which I associate with a specific time period, namely &lsquo,beastly&rsquo,, which I seem to only encounter ter the inter-war period, te writers such spil Orwell and one or the other of the Lawrences (T. E. and D. H., or perhaps both of them). And indeed Google n-grams demonstrate that this word had a big spike ter usage around 1920.

The Truth of Masks

This verhandeling turned out to be more interesting than I expected based on my (very) vague memories of the previous time(s) I had read it. It wasgoed originally published spil Shakespeare and Stage Scenery (p. lvii), and this title te fact gives a better idea of what it’s about, namely: when performing a play, how much effort should be waterput into making the costumes (and, to a lesser extent, scenery) look realistic?

Evidently this wasgoed a topic of considerable debate at the time. Ter much of the 17th and 18th century, the prevailing custom-made wasgoed to just use the fashions of the age ter which the play wasgoed performed, so you might have a play that took place ter the ancient Rome but the actors ter it wore the costumes of 18th-century soldiers, noblemen etc. (p. 218). Te Wilde’s time there wasgoed an enhancing rente ter using more realistic costumes, suitable to the time and place te which the story of the stuk is set. Wilde supports this trend, which he refers to spil &lsquo,archaeology&rsquo,, and defends it against the complaints of those who argued that it wasgoed just unnecessary pedantry.

Wilde points out that Shakespeare himself paid a lotsbestemming of attention to to the costumes of his characters (pp. 209&ndash,14), and that theatres of his time made a loterijlot of effort to use a diverse and realistic set of costumes. On pp. 214&ndash,Five Wilde cites a long list of costumes from an inventory of a &ldquo,costume-wardrobe of a London theatre ter Shakespeare’s time&rdquo,, including &ldquo,a robe &lsquo,for to goo invisibell,&rsquo, which seems inexpensive at Threel. Tens. [. . .] It is true that there is a mention of a bodice for Eve, but most likely the donné,e of the play wasgoed after the Fall.&rdquo, 🙂

Te fact he says that an rente ter ancient costume wasgoed widespread ter the Wedergeboorte, and went mitt ter palm with its rente te ancient literature and architecture (p. 215 ). &ldquo,Archaeology to them wasgoed not a mere science for the antiquarian, it wasgoed a means by which they could touch the dry dust of antiquity into the very breath and beauty of life, and pack with the fresh wine of romanticism forms that else had bot old and outworn.&rdquo, (Ib.)

He has some interesting remarks about how flawlessly suited the theatre is for this sort of &lsquo,archaeology&rsquo,, if a novelist puts that much effort into historical realism, the reader will be shocked by detailed descriptions and antiquated terminology, whereas ter a play the viewer will simply see the results on stage without any special effort (p. 216 ). He can’t fight back adding a bit of his usual stuff about how Kunst is above everything else: &ldquo,indeed archaeology is only indeed delightful when transfused into some form of kunst&rdquo, (p. 217 ). But on p. 218 he says a bit more fairly: &ldquo,archaeology, being a science, is neither good strafgevangenis bad, but a fact simply. Its value depends entirely on how it is used, and only an artist can use it. Wij look to the archaeologist for the materials, to the artist for the method.&rdquo,

Wilde praises Shakespeare’s high level of commitment to historical accuracy te general (pp. 219&ndash,21). &ldquo,Indeed if it be indeed necessary that the Schoolgebouw Houtvezelplaat children should know all about the Wars of the Roses, they could learn their lessons just spil well out of Shakespeare spil out of shilling primers, and learn them, I need not say, far more pleasureably.&rdquo, (P. 220 .) &ldquo,[A] dramatist who laid such stress on historical accuracy of fact would have welcomed historical accuracy of costume spil a most significant adjunct to his illusionist method.&rdquo, (P. 221.)

&ldquo,The Greek dress wasgoed the loveliest dress the world has everzwijn seen, and the English dress of the last century one of the most monstrous, &rdquo, (p. 225 ). &ldquo,[I]t is time that a zekering should be waterput to the idea, very prevalent on the stage, that the Greeks and Romans always went about bareheaded te the open air&mdash,a mistake the Elizabethan managers did not fall into, for they talent rubber hoods spil well spil gowns to their Roman senators.&rdquo, (P. 227 .)

A few nice quotes explaining why he argues ter favor of historical realism here: &ldquo,what I have attempted to point out is that archaeology is not a pedantic method, but a method of artistic illusion, and that costume is a means of displaying character without description, and of producing dramatic situations and dramatic effects.&rdquo, (P. 228 .) &ldquo,Ideal accuracy of detail, for the sake of volmaakt illusion, is necessary for us.&rdquo, (P. 222 ) I wonder what he would think about movies, where present-day technology permits them to achieve an unprecedented level of realism te presenting historical scenes.

One thing that astonished mij about this werkstuk is how soberly it is written. For the most part there isn’t any trolling and shocking epigrams of the sort that wij spotted te several earlier essays ter this book. Only at the very end does Wilde add a few sentences of this sort, almost spil if he abruptly felt embarrassed about having voiced an idea plainly and honestly 🙂 &ldquo,Not that I agree with everything that I have said ter this werkstuk. There is much with which I entirely disagree. The verhandeling simply represents an artistic standpoint, and ter aesthetic criticism attitude is everything. For ter kunst there is no such thing spil a universal truth. A Truth te kunst is that whose contradiction is also true.&rdquo, (P. 228 .) Maybe he hoped this mumbo-jumbo would help deflect any criticism from people who might disagree with him &mdash, it’s like a pre-emptive &lsquo,oh, I didn’t indeed mean that&rsquo, &mdash, but after the sober tone of the surplus of the verhandeling, it’s hard to take this disclaimer very gravely. But see also vol. 7, p. 491, where the editors point out that Wilde zometeen distanced himself from &lsquo,archaeology&rsquo, and that thesis concluding remarks should be seen te that light spil well.

Wilde mentions an interesting anachronism ter Shakespeare, evidently, he has Hector mentioning Aristotle at some point (p. 219, according to the editor’s note on p. 541, this is ter Troilus and Cressida ).

I wasgoed used to thinking of this werkstuk spil &ldquo,The Soul of Man under Socialism&rdquo,, and indeed this wasgoed its original title when it wasgoed very first published ter a tijdschrift, the last two words were dropped when it wasgoed zometeen republished spil a standalone booklet. For mij, the original title is more intriguing, spil an ardent fan of leftist political ideas, the more extreme the better, I wasgoed naturally very nosey what Wilde had to say about socialism, especially since he doesn’t strike mij spil the sort of author that would be particularly preoccupied with the plight of the poorer classes of society.

At the very least one would expect him to have a very idosyncratic view of socialism, and ter this I wasgoed not disappointed. That doesn’t mean that I disagree with his views here (just the opposite), but the things he concentrates on are the last things I’d expect to see ter a discussion of socialism. Wilde’s main rente te socialism comes from the idea that te such a system, people will no longer be coerced to work for others to make a living, doing things they don’t like to do. Instead, they will be able to develop their own interests and potential (to &ldquo,realize&rdquo, themselves, spil Wilde likes to say, e.g. on p. 237, tho’ I have to admit that this way of using words like &lsquo,real&rsquo, and &lsquo,realize&rsquo, strikes mij spil odd), mostly ter the way of creating, or contemplating, beautiful things, this is now available only to a few rich people, but ter a socialist society it would be identically accessible to everyone (pp. 233, 237). &ldquo,Socialism itself will be of value simply because it will lead to Individualism.&rdquo, (P. 233.)

There’s more or less nothing about how a socialist society might function or even how it might be brought about (chic from a bit of hand-waving about how machines can now do all the boring and hard work), but then, this isn’t indeed the topic of the verhandeling, given its title. Wilde isn’t indeed worried with any sort of ideological details here, spil you can see from phrasing such spil &ldquo,Socialism, Communism, or whatever one chooses to call it&rdquo, (p. 233). And indeed the range of ideas what were being discussed te the 19th century under the umbrella term of &lsquo,socialism&rsquo, wasgoed pretty broad, see e.g. the note to 231.Two on p. 551.

Wilde does point out that &ldquo,no Authoritarian Socialism will do. [. . .] It is to be regretted that a portion of our community should be practically te slavery, but to propose to solve the problem by enslaving the entire community is childish. Every man vereiste be left fairly free to choose his own work. No form of compulsion voorwaarde be exercised overheen him. [. . .] And by work I simply mean activity of any zuigeling.&rdquo, (P. 236.) You might even say he moves from socialism into what is practically anarchism with remarks like this: &ldquo,Of course authority and compulsion are out of the question. All association voorwaarde be fairly voluntary. It is only te voluntary associations that man is fine.&rdquo, (P. 237.) By the way, I also like how he uses the word &lsquo,fine&rsquo, here, you would expect a socialist writer to point out how people will be free, or glad, or prosperous, or something like that, but Wilde’s concentrate is more artistic and aesthetic. I suppose te a way it amounts to the same thing, what with the hierarchy of needs and the like, but the difference te emphasis is interesting, and shows us how Wilde approaches socialism from a different perspective than typical writers do.

He goes even further ter the anarchist vein on p. 244: &ldquo,Individualism, then, is what through Socialism wij are to attain to. Spil a natural result the State vereiste give up all idea of government. [. . .] All modes of government are failures.&rdquo, (He goes on to argue this ter detail against each system of government separately, of course with particular emphasis on democracy.) &ldquo,The State is to be a voluntary association that will organize labour, and be the manufacturer and distributor of necessary commodities. The State is to make what is useful. The individual is to make what is beautiful.&rdquo, (P. 246.)

There are some very good observations on the progress of technology. On the one arm, it is absolutely necessary if the socialist utopia is to be realized, because wij need the machines to do the dirty work: &ldquo,a superb overeenkomst of nonsense is being written and talked nowadays about the dignity of manual labour. There is nothing necessarily dignified about manual labour at all, and most of it is absolutely degrading.&rdquo, (P. 246.) &ldquo,The fact is, that civilization requires victims. The Greeks were fairly right there. Unless there are gimps to do the ugly, horrible, uninteresting work, culture and contemplation become almost unlikely. Human slavery is wrong, insecure, and demoralizing. On mechanical slavery, on the slavery of the machine, the future of the world depends.&rdquo, (P. 247.)

On the other mitt, he also points out how under the present system of private property, technological progress actually causes harm: &ldquo,One man possesses a machine which does the work of five hundred fellows. Five hundred dudes are, te consequence, thrown out of employment [. . .] The one man secures the produce of the machine and keeps it [. . .] Were that machine the property of all, every one would benefit by it. It would be an immense advantage to the community.&rdquo, (P. 247.) Nowadays this warning is more timely than everzwijn before, spil wij see more and more jobs being lost to technological progress while a handful of rich people reap all the benefits of that progress.

Along the way, Wilde makes many other good remarks that I entirely agree with. On p. 232 he has a discussion about how charity doesn’t truly solve anything, just prolongs the problems (not that I think it should therefore be abandoned &mdash, it just isn’t enough): &ldquo,Just spil the worst slave-owners were those who were kleuter to their victims, and so prevented the horror of the system being realized by those who suffered from it, and understood by those who contemplated it, so, te the present state of things ter England, the people who do most harm are the people who attempt to do most good&rdquo,.

And on p. 235 he remarks on the unluckily widespread phenomenon of people supporting the very system that oppreses them: &ldquo,a poor man who is ungrateful, unthrifty, discontented, and rebellious, is most likely a real personality, and has much te him. [. . .] Spil for the virtuous poor, one can pity them, of course, but one cannot possibly admire them. They have made private terms with the enemy [. . .]. They voorwaarde also be extraordinarily stupid. I can fairly understand a man accepting laws that protect private property, and admit of its accumulation, spil long spil he himself is able under those conditions to realize some form of beautiful and intellectual life. But it is almost incredible to mij how a man whose life is marred and made hideous by such laws can possibly acquiesce ter their continuance.&rdquo,

There’s an interesting discussion on private property on p. 238. One would imagine an argument against private property to chiefly be based on the fact that some people have unfairly little of it, but Wilde goes from the fully opposite direction and argues against private property on the voet of the fact that it’s too much cargo on those who have it. He even attempts to interpret Christianity te this light: &ldquo,What Jesus meant, wasgoed this. He said to man, &lsquo,You have a wonderful personality. Develop it. Be yourself. Don’t imagine that your perfection lies ter accumulating or possessing outward things. Your perfection is inwards of you. If only you could realize that, you would not want to be rich. Ordinary riches can be stolen from a man. Real riches cannot. [. . .] Individual property hinders Individualism at every step.&rsquo, &rdquo, (Pp. 240&ndash,1.)

I’m usually a big fan of Wildean paradoxes but te this particular case I found it unconvincing. Nevertheless I liked his concluding remark there: &ldquo,With the abolition of private property, then, wij shall have true, beautiful, healthy Individualism. Nobody will waste his life te accumulating things, and the symbols for things. One will live. To live is the rarest thing ter the world. Most people exist, that is all.&rdquo, (Pp. 238&ndash,9.)

There’s a beautiful discussion of crime and penalty on p. 245, it would still be remarkably progressive now, more than a hundred years after it wasgoed written: &ldquo,a community is infinitely more brutalized by the habitual employment of penalty, than it is by the occurrence of crime. [. . .] The less penalty, the less crime. When there is no penalty at all, crime will either cease to exist, or if it occurs, will be treated by physicians spil a very distressing form of dementia, to be cured by care and graciousness. [. . .] Starvation, and not sin, is the parent of modern crime. [. . .] When private property is abolished there will be no necessity for crime, no request for it, it will cease to exist.&rdquo, Incidentally, he voiced a similar idea ter Vulpen, Pencil and Poison spil well. (&ldquo,Crime ter England is uncommonly the result of sin. It is almost always the result of starvation.&rdquo, P. 119.)

About half-way into the verhandeling, the topic switches rather abruptly and from that point on mostly consists of the usual artist’s complaining about how the public doesn’t appreciate fresh ideas te kunst. &ldquo,When they say a work is grossly unintelligible, they mean that the artist has said or made a beautiful thing that is fresh, when they describe a work spil grossly immoral, they mean that the artist has said or made a beautiful thing that is true. The former expression has reference to style, the latter to subject-matter.&rdquo, (P. 251.) He goes on to argue that the only way for someone to actually be an artist is to go after is own ideas and overlook what the public says. &ldquo,The form of government that is most suitable to the artist is no government at all. Authority overheen him and his kunst is ridiculous.&rdquo, (P. 261.) For mij this 2nd half of the werkstuk wasgoed less interesting than the very first half, but I guess that for Wilde it wasgoed ter fact the main source of motivation: he wants socialism because it would lead to individualism, and he wants individualism because artists could actually be themselves rather than having to pay attention to the quirks of the public.

Ter terms of style, Wilde is te excellent form ter this werkstuk. It’s total of delightful epigrams ter his usual paradoxical style, but what is even better, here they are deployed ter a way that supports his arguments rather than making the entire thing an exercise ter frivolity and mental getting off like The Decay of Lounging and to a smaller extent The Critic spil Artist were.

&ldquo,There is only one class ter the community that thinks more about money than the rich, and that is the poor. The poor can think of nothing else. That is the misery of being poor.&rdquo, (P. 241.)

&ldquo,There are three kinds of despots. There is the despot who tyrannizes overheen the assets. There is the despot who tyrannizes overheen the soul. There is the despot who tyrannizes overheen soul and assets alike. The very first is called the Prince. The 2nd is called the Pope. The third is called the People.&rdquo, (P. 261.)

Spil always, the editor’s introduction and commentary are a treasure-trove of interesting observations and factoids.

I wasgoed blessed to find the word &lsquo,gnomic&rsquo, te the editors’ introduction on p. xviii, and again &lsquo,gnomically&rsquo, on p. xxvi. I like this word and wish it were used more often. I thought of it spil meaning something like &ldquo,obscure and unclear, most likely deliberately so&rdquo,, and the way it’s used here seems to agree with this, but now I see that the dictionary explains it simply spil &ldquo,like or containing gnomes or aphorisms&rdquo,, where a gnome is of course not the one with a crimson cap ter your garden, but a Greek word for &ldquo,a brief, pithy expression of a general truth, aphorism&rdquo,.

The editor’s introduction mentions on p. xxvii that Wilde didn’t pay much attention to punctuation and wasgoed fairly willing to let his editors sort out the punctuation ter his works. &ldquo,Likewise, structuring long lumps of prose also proved a consistent problem for him, one te which (once again) he wasgoed often willing to defer to more experienced judgments.&rdquo, (Ibid.) Evidently he also made a few common spelling errors, such spil &ldquo,valueable&rdquo,, &ldquo,independant&rdquo,, and confusing &ldquo,it’s&rdquo, and &ldquo,its&rdquo, (p. xc).

There are a few interesting remarks on Wilde’s &ldquo,tendency to capitalize (ter Intentions ) abstract nouns such spil &lsquo,nature&rsquo, and &lsquo,kunst&rsquo,.&rdquo, (P. lviii. And it isn’t just te Intentions , I reminisce it from Dorian Gray too.) &ldquo,Wilde’s handwriting can make it difficult to be certain when he is using capital letters&rdquo, (ibid.).

There’s a very interesting discussion about a paragraph that ended up being printed ter the wrong place ter The Soul of Man : &ldquo,Te fact it wasgoed not until 1993, when the letterteken quoted above wasgoed published for the very first time, that anyone evidently became aware of the problem&mdash,a cirumstance which ter turn says much about the sorts of expectations readers have brought to Wilde’s verhandeling. &rdquo, (P. lxxv.)

I wasgoed interested to learn, from a note on p. 321, that the term &lsquo,cloud cuckoo land&rsquo, originated te one of the plays of Aristophanes, see its wikipedia article for more. And from a note on p. 574 I learned that the phrase &ldquo,the vulpen is mightier than the sword&rdquo, is from Bulwer-Lytton’s 1839 play Richelieu , it seems like such a well-known phrase that I thought it wasgoed of much older origin. Or maybe the phrase would have seemed like utter nonsense te days when people would still routinely stab each other with swords, so it could only be invented after this practice began to decline 🙂

On p. 329 there’s an interesting discussion of the British attitudes to Napoleon ter the 19th century: &ldquo,British attitudes towards Napoleon became increasingly sympathetic following his fall from power and imprisonment. Carlyle, for example, witnessed him spil a Promethean figure [. . .] spil early spil the 1830s [. . .] &lsquo,he could be listed ter song alongside British heroes, and hailed on the stage by British soldiers. The notion that a British patriot might admire Napoleon, once voiced only by radicals, had become a commonplace&rsquo, &rdquo,. To be fair, it never even occurred to mij that the British vereiste have presumably seen Napoleon spil a hated enemy at the time when they were actually at war with him, albeit of course ter hindsight it is only logical that they would have done that. Ter any case, I found this development inspiring, I don’t have the impression that such a magnanimous attitude towards former enemies has bot commonplace after 20th-century wars.

A very interesting observation from p. 438: &ldquo,W[ilde] almost certainly reached a broader readership through his journalism than through any of his literary works (with the possible exception of the society comedies).&rdquo,

My obligatory whine

By now I got sadly used to the fact that the books from this series have uncommonly many typos, and this one is no exception. I still can’t understand how they can be selling the book for so much money (I paid £,85 for it back te 2007 when it wasgoed published, spil of late 2013, it costs £,131 on OUP’s webstek) and yet not be able to afford a proofreader. Have they no sense of pride at all?

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of typos: &ldquo,had would have ready&rdquo, (p. lxxx, n. 116), &ldquo,on one has everzwijn&rdquo, (p. 100, l. 31), &ldquo,stayrs&rdquo, (for &lsquo,satyrs&rsquo,, p. 213, l. 23), &ldquo,one of the statues omitted a sound&rdquo, (p. 278), &ldquo,over-weaning&rsquo, (p. 283), &ldquo,Mycenaen&rdquo, (p. 351), &ldquo,ex-patriot&rdquo, (p. 368, referring to F. Marion Crawford, they surely meant &lsquo,expatriate&rsquo,), &ldquo,te a dual fought&rdquo, (p. 415), &ldquo,simpy&rdquo, (p. 532), &ldquo,earlir&rdquo, (p. 543), &ldquo,laws,. But&rdquo, (p. 566), &ldquo,the formal of style&rdquo, (p. 581).

There is an odd remark on p. 285. Wilde uses the German phrase &ldquo,ein edle und gute natur&rdquo, on p. 7, and the editor comments: &ldquo,the phrase, one word of which W misspells (it should be &lsquo,edel&rsquo, rather than &lsquo,edle&rsquo,), translates spil &lsquo,a noble and fine nature&rsquo,.&rdquo, Now admittedly my German is utterly rusty, but surely Natur is a womanish noun, so &ldquo,edle&rdquo, should be just fine, if anything, wij should be complaining that Wilde says &lsquo,ein&rsquo, instead of &lsquo,eine&rsquo,, and that he doesn’t spell Natur with a capital N.

Te a note on p. 298, the editor mentions that &ldquo,Herodotus claims that Melampus trained the Greeks the name of Dionysus and the way to make sacrifices to him, especially what Herodotus calls the rite of &lsquo,phallic progression&rsquo,.&rdquo, I wasgoed greatly intrigued by the concept of phallic progression, but unluckily my google search resulted te only around 20 unrelated mentions, mostly from postmodernist essays. It seems that the phrase is simply a mistake for &ldquo,phallic procession&rdquo,, this latter form occurs e.g. te the Wikipedia, and similarly the translation of Herodotus on classics.mit.edu refers to it spil the &ldquo,procession of the phallus&rdquo,.

Te a note on p. 339 wij hear about &ldquo,Perseus (c. 213/Two&ndash,170 BC), king of Macedonia 179&ndash,168&rdquo,. So they had a dead king for two years 🙂 To be fair, I can imagine many advantages of having a dead king, and it would most likely have bot better if they hadn’t bothered to inaugurate a fresh living one.

A note on p. 385 describes Thomas Malory spil the &ldquo,author of the prose romance, Le Morte D’Arthur , a poem which has little ondergrond ter historical fact&rdquo,. I wonder why anybody would refer to it spil a poem (especially just after telling, fairly sensibly, that it’s te prose).

A note on p. 463 describes the satyr Silenus spil &ldquo,the son of Hermes and Pan&rdquo,. I *so* don’t want to know what happened there 😛

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