Irish Writing: Exile and Subversion

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The book had further printings in It was bound in a rich, enamel parchment cover embossed with gilt blossom and printed on hand-made Dutch paper; over the next few years, Wilde presented many copies to the dignitaries and writers who received him during his lecture tours. Aestheticism was sufficiently in vogue to be caricatured by Gilbert and Sullivan in Patience Richard D'Oyly Carte , an English impresario, invited Wilde to make a lecture tour of North America, simultaneously priming the pump for the US tour of Patience and selling this most charming aesthete to the American public.

Wilde journeyed on the SS Arizona , arriving 2 January , and disembarking the following day. When asked to explain reports that he had paraded down Piccadilly in London carrying a lily, long hair flowing, Wilde replied, "It's not whether I did it or not that's important, but whether people believed I did it". Wilde and aestheticism were both mercilessly caricatured and criticised in the press; the Springfield Republican , for instance, commented on Wilde's behaviour during his visit to Boston to lecture on aestheticism, suggesting that Wilde's conduct was more a bid for notoriety rather than devotion to beauty and the aesthetic.

Higginson , a cleric and abolitionist, wrote in "Unmanly Manhood" of his general concern that Wilde, "whose only distinction is that he has written a thin volume of very mediocre verse", would improperly influence the behaviour of men and women. The magazine didn't let its reputation for quality impede its expression of what are now considered odious ethnic and racial ideologies. The drawing stimulated other American maligners and, in England, had a full-page reprint in the Lady's Pictorial.

When the National Republican discussed Wilde, it was to explain 'a few items as to the animal's pedigree. His earnings, plus expected income from The Duchess of Padua , allowed him to move to Paris between February and mid-May While there he met Robert Sherard , whom he entertained constantly. He reportedly entertained the other passengers with " Ave Imperatrix! She happened to be visiting Dublin in , when Wilde was lecturing at the Gaiety Theatre. They had preached to others for so long on the subject of design that people expected their home to set new standards.

The couple had two sons together, Cyril and Vyvyan Wilde became the sole literary signatory of George Bernard Shaw 's petition for a pardon of the anarchists arrested and later executed after the Haymarket massacre in Chicago in Robert Ross had read Wilde's poems before they met. He seemed unrestrained by the Victorian prohibition against homosexuality, and became estranged from his family. By Richard Ellmann 's account, he was a precocious seventeen-year-old who "so young and yet so knowing, was determined to seduce Wilde".

Criticism over artistic matters in The Pall Mall Gazette provoked a letter in self-defence, and soon Wilde was a contributor to that and other journals during — He enjoyed reviewing and journalism; the form suited his style. He could organise and share his views on art, literature and life, yet in a format less tedious than lecturing. Buoyed up, his reviews were largely chatty and positive. When Charles Stewart Parnell was falsely accused of inciting murder , Wilde wrote a series of astute columns defending him in the Daily Chronicle.

His flair, having previously been put mainly into socialising, suited journalism and rapidly attracted notice. With his youth nearly over, and a family to support, in mid Wilde became the editor of The Lady's World magazine, his name prominently appearing on the cover. Two pieces of fiction were usually included, one to be read to children, the other for the ladies themselves. Wilde worked hard to solicit good contributions from his wide artistic acquaintance, including those of Lady Wilde and his wife Constance, while his own "Literary and Other Notes" were themselves popular and amusing.

The initial vigour and excitement which he brought to the job began to fade as administration, commuting and office life became tedious.

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If Wilde's period at the helm of the magazine was a mixed success from an organizational point of view, it played a pivotal role in his development as a writer and facilitated his ascent to fame. Whilst Wilde the journalist supplied articles under the guidance of his editors, Wilde the editor is forced to learn to manipulate the literary marketplace on his own terms.

Wilde published The Happy Prince and Other Tales in , and had been regularly writing fairy stories for magazines. The only evidence for this is two supposed puns within the sonnets themselves. The anonymous narrator is at first sceptical, then believing, finally flirtatious with the reader: he concludes that "there is really a great deal to be said of the Willie Hughes theory of Shakespeare's sonnets.

The story thus is an early masterpiece of Wilde's combining many elements that interested him: conversation, literature and the idea that to shed oneself of an idea one must first convince another of its truth. Though containing nothing but "special pleading", it would not, he says "be possible to build an airier castle in Spain than this of the imaginary William Hughes" we continue listening nonetheless to be charmed by the telling.

Wilde, having tired of journalism, had been busy setting out his aesthetic ideas more fully in a series of longer prose pieces which were published in the major literary-intellectual journals of the day. Having always excelled as a wit and raconteur, he often composed by assembling phrases, bons mots and witticisms into a longer, cohesive work. Wilde was concerned about the effect of moralising on art; he believed in art's redemptive, developmental powers: "Art is individualism, and individualism is a disturbing and disintegrating force. There lies its immense value. For what it seeks is to disturb monotony of type, slavery of custom, tyranny of habit, and the reduction of man to the level of a machine.

At the same time, he stressed that the government most amenable to artists was no government at all. Wilde envisioned a society where mechanisation has freed human effort from the burden of necessity, effort which can instead be expended on artistic creation.

George Orwell summarised, "In effect, the world will be populated by artists, each striving after perfection in the way that seems best to him. This point of view did not align him with the Fabians , intellectual socialists who advocated using state apparatus to change social conditions, nor did it endear him to the monied classes whom he had previously entertained. Wilde considered including this pamphlet and The Portrait of Mr. The first version of The Picture of Dorian Gray was published as the lead story in the July edition of Lippincott's Monthly Magazine , along with five others.

When Gray, who has a "face like ivory and rose leaves", sees his finished portrait, he breaks down. Distraught that his beauty will fade while the portrait stays beautiful, he inadvertently makes a Faustian bargain in which only the painted image grows old while he stays beautiful and young. For Wilde, the purpose of art would be to guide life as if beauty alone were its object. As Gray's portrait allows him to escape the corporeal ravages of his hedonism, Wilde sought to juxtapose the beauty he saw in art with daily life.

Reviewers immediately criticised the novel's decadence and homosexual allusions; The Daily Chronicle for example, called it "unclean", "poisonous", and "heavy with the mephitic odours of moral and spiritual putrefaction". That is all. Contemporary reviewers and modern critics have postulated numerous possible sources of the story, a search Jershua McCormack argues is futile because Wilde "has tapped a root of Western folklore so deep and ubiquitous that the story has escaped its origins and returned to the oral tradition. The census records the Wildes' residence at 16 Tite Street, [] where he lived with his wife Constance and two sons.

Wilde though, not content with being better known than ever in London, returned to Paris in October , this time as a respected writer. He had continued his interest in the theatre and now, after finding his voice in prose, his thoughts turned again to the dramatic form as the biblical iconography of Salome filled his mind.

A tragedy, it tells the story of Salome, the stepdaughter of the tetrarch Herod Antipas , who, to her stepfather's dismay but mother 's delight, requests the head of Jokanaan John the Baptist on a silver platter as a reward for dancing the Dance of the Seven Veils. When Wilde returned to London just before Christmas the Paris Echo referred to him as "le great event" of the season. Wilde, who had first set out to irritate Victorian society with his dress and talking points, then outrage it with Dorian Gray , his novel of vice hidden beneath art, finally found a way to critique society on its own terms.

Lady Windermere's Fan was first performed on 20 February at St James's Theatre, packed with the cream of society. On the surface a witty comedy, there is subtle subversion underneath: "it concludes with collusive concealment rather than collective disclosure". The play was enormously popular, touring the country for months, but largely trashed by conservative critics. Peter Raby said these essentially English plays were well-pitched, "Wilde, with one eye on the dramatic genius of Ibsen, and the other on the commercial competition in London's West End, targeted his audience with adroit precision".

An intimate friendship sprang up between Wilde and Douglas and by Wilde was infatuated with Douglas and they consorted together regularly in a tempestuous affair. If Wilde was relatively indiscreet, even flamboyant, in the way he acted, Douglas was reckless in public. Douglas soon initiated Wilde into the Victorian underground of gay prostitution and Wilde was introduced to a series of young working-class male prostitutes from onwards by Alfred Taylor. These infrequent rendezvous usually took the same form: Wilde would meet the boy, offer him gifts, dine him privately and then take him to a hotel room.

Unlike Wilde's idealised, pederastic relations with Ross, John Gray , and Douglas, all of whom remained part of his aesthetic circle, these consorts were uneducated and knew nothing of literature. Soon his public and private lives had become sharply divided; in De Profundis he wrote to Douglas that "It was like feasting with panthers; the danger was half the excitement I did not know that when they were to strike at me it was to be at another's piping and at another's pay. Douglas and some Oxford friends founded a journal, The Chameleon , to which Wilde "sent a page of paradoxes originally destined for the Saturday Review ".

Lord Alfred's father, the Marquess of Queensberry , was known for his outspoken atheism, brutish manner and creation of the modern rules of boxing. In June , he called on Wilde at 16 Tite Street, without an appointment, and clarified his stance: "I do not say that you are it, but you look it, and pose at it, which is just as bad. And if I catch you and my son again in any public restaurant I will thrash you" to which Wilde responded: "I don't know what the Queensberry rules are, but the Oscar Wilde rule is to shoot on sight".

He did not wish to bear Queensberry's insults, but he knew to confront him could lead to disaster were his liaisons disclosed publicly. Wilde's final play again returns to the theme of switched identities: the play's two protagonists engage in "bunburying" the maintenance of alternative personas in the town and country which allows them to escape Victorian social mores.

Mostly set in drawing rooms and almost completely lacking in action or violence, Earnest lacks the self-conscious decadence found in The Picture of Dorian Gray and Salome. The play, now considered Wilde's masterpiece , was rapidly written in Wilde's artistic maturity in late Both author and producer assiduously revised, prepared and rehearsed every line, scene and setting in the months before the premiere, creating a carefully constructed representation of late-Victorian society, yet simultaneously mocking it. Premieres at St James's seemed like "brilliant parties", and the opening of The Importance of Being Earnest was no exception.

Allan Aynesworth who played Algernon recalled to Hesketh Pearson , "In my fifty-three years of acting, I never remember a greater triumph than [that] first night. Wilde's professional success was mirrored by an escalation in his feud with Queensberry. Queensberry had planned to insult Wilde publicly by throwing a bouquet of rotting vegetables onto the stage; Wilde was tipped off and had Queensberry barred from entering the theatre. On 18 February , the Marquess left his calling card at Wilde's club, the Albemarle , inscribed: "For Oscar Wilde, posing somdomite" [ sic ]. Queensberry was arrested for criminal libel ; a charge carrying a possible sentence of up to two years in prison.

Under the Libel Act , Queensberry could avoid conviction for libel only by demonstrating that his accusation was in fact true, and furthermore that there was some "public benefit" to having made the accusation openly. The scene was witnessed by George Bernard Shaw who recalled it to Arthur Ransome a day or so before Ransome's trial for libelling Douglas in To Ransome it confirmed what he had said in his book on Wilde; that Douglas's rivalry for Wilde with Robbie Ross and his arguments with his father had resulted in Wilde's public disaster; as Wilde wrote in De Profundis.

Douglas lost his case. A team of private detectives had directed Queensberry's lawyers, led by Edward Carson QC , to the world of the Victorian underground. Wilde's association with blackmailers and male prostitutes, cross-dressers and homosexual brothels was recorded, and various persons involved were interviewed, some being coerced to appear as witnesses since they too were accomplices to the crimes of which Wilde was accused.

Oscar Wilde

The trial opened on 3 April before Justice Richard Henn Collins amid scenes of near hysteria both in the press and the public galleries. The extent of the evidence massed against Wilde forced him to declare meekly, "I am the prosecutor in this case". He characterised the first as a "prose sonnet" and admitted that the "poetical language" might seem strange to the court but claimed its intent was innocent. He claimed to regard the letters as works of art rather than something of which to be ashamed.

Carson, a fellow Dubliner who had attended Trinity College, Dublin at the same time as Wilde, cross-examined Wilde on how he perceived the moral content of his works. Wilde replied with characteristic wit and flippancy, claiming that works of art are not capable of being moral or immoral but only well or poorly made, and that only "brutes and illiterates", whose views on art "are incalculably stupid", would make such judgements about art.

Carson, a leading barrister, diverged from the normal practice of asking closed questions. Carson pressed Wilde on each topic from every angle, squeezing out nuances of meaning from Wilde's answers, removing them from their aesthetic context and portraying Wilde as evasive and decadent. While Wilde won the most laughs from the court, Carson scored the most legal points. Playing on this, he returned to the topic throughout his cross-examination.

Carson then moved to the factual evidence and questioned Wilde about his friendships with younger, lower-class men. Wilde admitted being on a first-name basis and lavishing gifts upon them, but insisted that nothing untoward had occurred and that the men were merely good friends of his. Carson repeatedly pointed out the unusual nature of these relationships and insinuated that the men were prostitutes. Wilde replied that he did not believe in social barriers, and simply enjoyed the society of young men. Then Carson asked Wilde directly whether he had ever kissed a certain servant boy, Wilde responded, "Oh, dear no.

Wilde hesitated, then for the first time became flustered: "You sting me and insult me and try to unnerve me; and at times one says things flippantly when one ought to speak more seriously. In his opening speech for the defence, Carson announced that he had located several male prostitutes who were to testify that they had had sex with Wilde. On the advice of his lawyers, Wilde dropped the prosecution. Queensberry was found not guilty, as the court declared that his accusation that Wilde was "posing as a Somdomite [ sic ]" was justified, "true in substance and in fact".

After Wilde left the court, a warrant for his arrest was applied for on charges of sodomy and gross indecency. Robbie Ross found Wilde at the Cadogan Hotel, [] Pont Street , Knightsbridge , with Reginald Turner ; both men advised Wilde to go at once to Dover and try to get a boat to France; his mother advised him to stay and fight. Wilde, lapsing into inaction, could only say, "The train has gone. It's too late. Events moved quickly and his prosecution opened on 26 April , before Mr Justice Charles. Wilde pleaded not guilty. He had already begged Douglas to leave London for Paris, but Douglas complained bitterly, even wanting to give evidence; he was pressed to go and soon fled to the Hotel du Monde.

Fearing persecution, Ross and many others also left the United Kingdom during this time. Under cross examination Wilde was at first hesitant, then spoke eloquently:. Charles Gill prosecuting : What is " the love that dare not speak its name "? Wilde: "The love that dare not speak its name" in this century is such a great affection of an elder for a younger man as there was between David and Jonathan, such as Plato made the very basis of his philosophy, and such as you find in the sonnets of Michelangelo and Shakespeare.

It is that deep spiritual affection that is as pure as it is perfect. It dictates and pervades great works of art, like those of Shakespeare and Michelangelo, and those two letters of mine, such as they are. It is in this century misunderstood, so much misunderstood that it may be described as "the love that dare not speak its name", and on that account of it I am placed where I am now. It is beautiful, it is fine, it is the noblest form of affection. There is nothing unnatural about it.

It is intellectual, and it repeatedly exists between an older and a younger man, when the older man has intellect, and the younger man has all the joy, hope and glamour of life before him. That it should be so, the world does not understand. The world mocks at it, and sometimes puts one in the pillory for it. This response was counter-productive in a legal sense as it only served to reinforce the charges of homosexual behaviour.

The trial ended with the jury unable to reach a verdict. Wilde's counsel, Sir Edward Clarke, was finally able to get a magistrate to allow Wilde and his friends to post bail. The final trial was presided over by Mr Justice Wills. On 25 May Wilde and Alfred Taylor were convicted of gross indecency and sentenced to two years' hard labour. May I say nothing, my Lord? He first entered Newgate Prison in London for processing, then was moved to Pentonville Prison , where the "hard labour" to which he had been sentenced consisted of many hours of walking a treadmill and picking oakum separating the fibres in scraps of old navy ropes , [] and where prisoners were allowed to read only the Bible and The Pilgrim's Progress.

A few months later he was moved to Wandsworth Prison in London. Inmates there also followed the regimen of "hard labour, hard fare and a hard bed", which wore harshly on Wilde's delicate health.

His right ear drum was ruptured in the fall, an injury that later contributed to his death. Richard B. The transfer itself was the lowest point of his incarceration, as a crowd jeered and spat at him on the railway platform. About five months after Wilde arrived at Reading Gaol, Charles Thomas Wooldridge , a trooper in the Royal Horse Guards, was brought to Reading to await his trial for murdering his wife on 29 March ; on 17 June Wooldridge was sentenced to death and returned to Reading for his execution, which took place on Tuesday, 7 July — the first hanging at Reading in 18 years.

Wilde was not, at first, even allowed paper and pen but Haldane eventually succeeded in allowing access to books and writing materials. Between January and March Wilde wrote a 50,word letter to Douglas. He was not allowed to send it, but was permitted to take it with him when released from prison.

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His own estimation of himself was: one who "stood in symbolic relations to the art and culture of my age". The second half of the letter traces Wilde's spiritual journey of redemption and fulfilment through his prison reading. FoB is the outcome of a basic functional mechanism instantiated by our brain-body system, Embodied Simulation, enabling a more direct and less cognitively-mediated access to the world of others. Interestingly here, irony is also based on echoing and textual mirroring mechanisms. I have not seen my son for two days. Then, on the radio, I hear he is dead.

VIAF ID: 7493010 (Personal)

They give out his description. I drink milk. I cry. But he comes in for his tea. The news begins. Like a woman I stand drying a plate, watching the headlines. There is a ring at the door. The boy answers it, his shirt tail out. Voices in the hallway. My son with friends. What he does not do with me. To take me fishing. If one further considers that the fish, in Celtic mythology, is the symbol of knowledge, the resonance is sinister. The arm around the shoulder is another key image.

The only moment when this much longed-for gesture will be made possible is when the son is dead, striking yet another bitter ironical note at the end. It also leaves unanswered the widely shared experience of readers, and indeed authors, feeling themselves involved in the text world, alongside the fictional characters. Experience seems to question narrative theory here and call for a radical renewal of perspective that would eventually make it possible to include fiction and reality in a shared ontological space.

This is generally considered anathema, but it seems to be the only way to account for the complexity of the relation to the Other in fictional writing. Mirror Mechanisms might help us operate such a shift. Empathic reading, in the light of Irish experience, therefore takes on new meaning. In a way you write from anger. In the first novel [Lamb], the anger is against what the institutionalised church does to people, so that you end up with tragedy.

The anger in the second novel [Cal] comes from violence. They're spurs to your creativity, because as an individual you can't do anything to stop violence. You can try and write something James Joyce, John McGahern were forced to leave because they expressed a difference that was unacceptable to censors. New York is the city of exiles — everyone comes from somewhere else.

Ireland has been for years a country of exiles — everyone wanting to be somewhere else. The Irish writer has always had a peculiar home in the world. By a combination of strategies — going into exile, subverting the language, twisting the fictional form — he or she has, in general, remained provocative, at the edge MacLaverty is talking about anger, McCann about rage:. I believe we must have a rage and a belief that it does matter. The text itself becomes a vast jigsaw puzzle; the combination of heterodiegetic narration and MM makes us follow different perspectives that dovetail with one another; that of Milton, who can be considered as the main reflector of the story, but also that of the different family members, and especially that of one of his sisters, Hazel, who left Ireland, presumably for good, when she married.

No need for a complement here; ellipsis creates intransitivity that makes knowledge absolute and radical. The epiphany eventually erases all difference whatsoever between characters and readers and the final choice of the passive form turns all of us into silent accomplices. Empathy mechanisms, anchored in the character and the narrator, but also in the author, through the echo with the title, unambiguously, because of its paratextual position, attributable to Trevor, lead the reader to perceive the ironical undermining of the final assertion.

With death, lost ground cannot ever be regained. The only clear-sighted perspective is that of the voluntary outsider, the third party.

Everything in this Country Must combines all strategies. At the end of the story, the father, in an unbearable act which the reader is nevertheless led to understand through direct and embedded Mirror Mechanisms, shoots the horse:. When Father came in from outside I knew what it was. He picked up his teacup and it rattled on the saucer so he put it down again and he put his face in his hands and stayed like that. Everything in this country must… die. We therefore understand why the father kills the horse, we feel his distress, though the act cannot have any acceptable justification.

It is the privilege of Mirror Mechanisms to take us as far as that sideration of body and mind. We here follow the perspective of a young Protestant boy, Andrew, whose mother decides, unbeknownst to her husband, to accept an order for poles for an Orange March. It is winter, there is snow on the ground, and they work at the mill at night to have the poles ready. The conflicts in perspectives here are less devastating and violent than in the previous story.

The political recedes behind the economical. Again, as readers, espousing gestures and decisions, we intimately feel the conflict in allegiance, without judging it. It opens on a young boy — the reflector 47 — observing an old couple rowing on a yellow kayak. We understand that the mother took her fatherless son away from Northern Ireland Derry , where her brother, a young IRA prisoner on a hunger strike, is dying.

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