Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Oscar Project: Day 10 of 365

My head hurts.  Not like a headache, just that overwhelmed feeling I get when studying, cramming knowledge into nooks and crannies as quickly as I can.  But it is done, this list—at last—is done, and now I can commence with reading.  My biggest surprise was that I actually have everything.  Well, with three exceptions, but I'll get to that in a bit.  Though if you were to ask M'Colleague, I don't think he'd be terribly surprised.  The list is at the end of this post.

I was able to find it all in just ten books, plus one e-book, which means I won't have to constantly be jumping amongst a huge number of volumes.  I actually could have gotten away with it in seven (that Complete Works volume is actually quite true to its name) but I wanted to be able to take Dorian Gray, the short stories, and De Profundis with me in a more purse-friendly manner, as they're the more long form offerings.

Here are the ten books which will be my companions for the next year, also with that absurdly pink version of Complete Works I'd mentioned last week, for good measure:
It will now return to my car.
There have been a small number of letters that have been uncovered in the handful of years since the Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde and A Life In Letters were published, but those shouldn't be difficult to find online.  There are, however, three obscure works which are not included in any published collection, and are either stupidly expensive or nigh-impossible to find online.  I'm looking at you, The Oscar Wilde Society.  I just cannot justify £40 annually to get your periodic publications sent to me stateside and (presumably) access to That One Damn Essay.  Perhaps some day this will seem an insignificant expense, but sadly not right now.

The three in question are below, and are marked by an * on the list:
The Women of Homer, an essay written in 1876, during Oscar's Oxford days.  Held fast in the clutches of The Oscar Wilde Society, and seemingly unavailable anywhere else, unless one has hundreds of pounds/dollars for an out of print version.
An article on the painter Henry O'Neill, which Oscar published anonymously in "Saunders News-Letter" in Dublin, in 1877.  I will still try to look for this online, but so far no luck.
Fire at Sea, a translation of a French short story, ca. 1886.  From everything I can find, it was printed on a 25-page quarto folio, not sure how many copies, and that's about it.  Again, I'll continue to look for this one as well.

So here we have it, the master list of works by Oscar Wilde, not including individual letters, which I intend to read in groups by year.  Two works, a play fragment and a poem, were published posthumously by Robert Ross, and those dates are used.  The final count is:  67 essays and reviews, 6 lectures, 9 plays, 14 short stories, 95 poems, 1 Dorian Gray, and 1 De Profundis for a total of 193 unique pieces.  And the trial transcript.  And all those letters...

I'm beyond excited to have completed this list and be able to get on with the reading.  Wish me luck!

Year of Publication Title Category
1875 San Miniato Poem
1875 Chorus of Cloud Maidens Poem
1876 From Spring Days to Winter Poem
1876 La Bella Donna della mia Mente Poem
1876 The Dole of the King’s Daughter Poem
1876 Rome Unvisited Poem
1876 The Rise of Historical Criticism Essay
1876 *The Women of Homer Essay
1877 Sonnet on approaching Italy Poem
1877 Sonnet written in Holy Week at Genoa Poem
1877 Urbs Sacra Æterna Poem
1877 The Grave of Keats Poem
1877 The Tomb of Keats Essay
1877 *Article on Henry O'Neill, Saunders' Newsletter Essay
1877 Vita Nuova Poem
1877 A Fragment from the Agamemnon of Aeschylos Poem
1877 A Vision Poem
1877 Madonna Mia Poem
1877 Wasted Days Poem
1878 Ravenna Poem
1878 Ave Maria Gratia plena Poem
1878 ΘΡΗΝΩΔΙΑ (A Song of Lamentation) (exact date unknown, assuming college) Poem
1879 Athanasia Poem
1879 Easter Day Poem
1879 Phêdre (A Sonnet to Sarah Bernhardt) Poem
1879 Queen Henrietta Maria Essay
1879 The New Helen/ Poem
1879 Ballade de Marguerite Poem
1880 Vera; or, The Nihilists Play
1880 Impression de Voyage Poem
1880 Ave Imperatrix Poem
1880 Pan, A Villanelle Essay
1880 Libertatis Sacra Fames Poem
1880 The Artist's Dream or Sen Artysty Poem
1881 Serenade Poem
1881 Impression du Matin Poem
1881 La Fuite de la Lune Poem
1881 Les Silhouettes Poem
1881 Amor Intellectualis Poem
1881 Apologia Poem
1881 At Verona Poem
1881 Camma/ Poem
1881 Chanson Poem
1881 Charmides  Poem
1881 E Tenebris Poem
1881 Endymion Poem
1881 Fabien dei Franchi, Camma Poem
1881 Helas  Poem
1881 Her Voice Poem
1881 Humanitad Poem
1881 Impression: Le Reveillon Poem
1881 Impressions du Théatre: Poem
1881 In the Gold Room: a Harmony Poem
1881 Italia Poem
1881 Louis Napoleon Poem
1881 Magdalen Walks Poem
1881 My Voice Poem
1881 Panthea Poem
1881 Portia Poem
1881 Quantum Mutata Poem
1881 Quia Multum amavi Poem
1881 Requiescat Poem
1881 Santa Decca Poem
1881 Silentium Amoris Poem
1881 Sonnet on hearing the Dies Iræ sung in the Sistine Chapel Poem
1881 Sonnet on the Massacre of the Christians in Bulgaria Poem
1881 Sonnet to Liberty Poem
1881 Tædium Vitæ Poem
1881 The Burden of Itys Poem
1881 The Garden of Eros  Poem
1881 The Grave of Shelley Poem
1881 Theocritus: a Villanelle Poem
1881 Theoretikos/ Poem
1881 To Milton Poem
1881 ΓΛΥΚΥΠΙΚΡΟΕ ΕΡΩΣ (Flower of Love) Poem
1881 Impressions: Poem
1881 By the Arno/ Poem
1881 La Mer Poem
1881 Lotus Leaves Poem
1881 On the Sale by Auction of Keats' Love Letters Poem
1881 The True Knowledge Poem
1881 Under The Balcony Poem
1881 With A Copy of "A House of Pomegranates" Poem
1881 Le Jardin des Tuileries Poem
1882 L'Envoi Essay
1882 The Irish Poets of '48 Lecture
1882 House Decoration Lecture
1882 Mrs. Langtry as Hester Grazebrook Essay
1882 Art and the Handicraftsman Lecture
1882 The English Renaissance of Art Lecture
1883 The Duchess of Padua Play
1883 Lecture to Art Students Lecture
1883 Personal Impressions of America Lecture
1884 Woman's Dress Essay
1885 Mr. Whistler's Ten o'clock Essay
1885 The Relation of Dress to Art Essay
1885 Dinners and Dishes Essay
1885 Shakespeare on Scenery Essay
1885 The Harlot's House Poem
1885 Hamlet at the Lyceum Essay
1885 Henry IV at Oxford Essay
1885 The Truth of Masks Essay
1885 Roses and Rue (to L.L.) Poem
1885 A Handbook to Marriage Essay
1885 Aristotle at Afternoon Tea Essay
1885 The Philosophy of Dress Essay
1886 *A Fire at Sea, translation Story
1886 Keats's Sonnet on Blue Essay
1886 Balzac in English Essay
1886 Ben Johnson Essay
1886 A "Jolly" Art Critic Essay
1886 [George Saintsbury] "Half Hours with the Worst Authors Essay
1886 To Read or Not to Read Essay
1886 Two Biographies of Sir Philip Sidney Essay
1887 The Canterville Ghost Story
1887 Great Writers by Little Men Essay
1887 The American Invasion Essay
1887 A Cheap Edition of a Great Man Essay
1887 Injury & Insult Essay
1887 The Sphinx Without a Secret Story
1887 Mr. Pater's Imaginary Portraits Essay
1887 The Model Millionaire Story
1887 Two Biographies of Keats Essay
1887 Lord Arthur Saville's Crime Story
1887 Fantaisies Décoratives Poem
1887 [Dostoevsky's The Insulted and Injured] Essay
1887 A New Book on Dickens Essay
1887 Mr. Mahaffy's New Book [Greek Life and Thought] Essay
1887 The American Man Essay
1887 The Butterfly's Boswel Essay
1887 The Poets and the People Essay
1887 The Rout of the R[oyal] A[cademy] Essay
1887 William Morris's Odyssey Essay
1888 Canzonet Poem
1888 From the Poets' Corner Essay
1888 The Devoted Friend Story
1888 The Happy Prince Story
1888 The Nightingale and the Rose Story
1888 The Remarkable Rocket Story
1888 The Selfish Giant Story
1888 English Poetesses Essay
1888 Sir Edwin Arnold's Last Volume Essay
1888 The Young King Story
1888 [Poems by Henley and Sharpe] Essay
1888 M, Caro on George Sand Essay
1889 London Models Essay
1889 Pen, Pencil and Poison Essay
1889 The Decay of Lying Essay
1889 The New President [of the Royal Society of British Artists] Essay
1889 Some Literary Notes Essay
1889 Symphony in Yellow Poem
1889 Further Literary Notes Essay
1889 The Birthday of the Infanta Story
1889 The Portrait of Mr. W. H.  Story
1889 In The Forest Poem
1889 [Yeats's Fairy and Folk Tales] Essay
1889 [Yeats's The Wanderings of Oisin] Essay
1889 Mr. Froude's Blue Book [on Ireland] Essay
1889 Mr. Swinburne's Last Volume Essay
1889 Ouida's New Novel [Guilderoy] Essay
1889 Poetry and Prison Essay
1889 The Gospel According to Walt Whitman Essay
1890 The Soul of Man Under Socialism Essay
1890 A Preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray Essay
1890 The Critic As Artist Essay
1890 The Picture of Dorian Gray Novel
1890 [Defense of Dorian Gray] (letters to the press) Essay
1890 A Chinese Sage [Confucius] Essay
1890 Mr. Pater's Last Volume [Appreciations] Essay
1891 The Fisherman and his Soul Story
1891 The Star-Child Story
1891 Salome Play
1891 The New Remorse Poem
1892 Lady Windermere's Fan Play
1893 The House of Judgement Poem
1893 A Woman of No Importance Play
1893 The Disciple Poem
1893 To My Wife Poem
1894 The Sphinx Poem
1894 The Artist Poem
1894 The Doer of Good Poem
1894 The Master Poem
1894 The Teacher of Wisdom Poem
1894 A Few Maxims For the Instruction of the Over-Educated Essay
1894 Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young Essay
1894 La Sainte Courtisane Play
1895 An Ideal Husband Play
1895 The Importance of Being Earnest Play
1897 De Profundis Letter
1898 The Ballad of Reading Gaol Poem
1908 A Florentine Tragedy Play
1909 Desespoir Poem

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Oscar Project: Day 3 of 365

I am in the process of going back through my collection with the purpose of double-checking what I do and do not have, and discovering some missing pieces along the way.  I thought I'd be getting up my master list today, but I'm starting to think that won't happen.

In the meantime, I have been long itching to show off my Oscar collection.  I started with just one book when I was a teenager (the big purple one, you'll see it) and over the past 15-ish years, it has expanded.  They can't all fit nicely into one photo, so I've broken them into smaller groups, plus one of those that are older than 75 years.  Well, one is 74, but I gave it a pass.

Also, this turned into a MUCH longer post than I'd originally intended, so read at your own risk.

These are the biographies, some better than others.  Frank Harris (second in from the right) got there first, but as a contemporary of Wilde's, still caught up in the salacious scandal, he gets a lot of things wrong and/or sensationalises them.  Richard Ellmann's (4th from left) is probably the best known, though also gets things wrong and as such is responsible for some nasty misconceptions.  H. Montgomery Hyde has written three Oscariana biographies in my collection:  One general biography (the creased paperback in the middle), one focusing on the time of his sentencing to his release from Reading Gaol (The Aftermath) and one of Lord Alfred Douglas, which I have yet to read because I still don't want to have sympathy for him.  The big one on the left is a "pictorial biography" with lots of really fantastic pictures; the bitty one in the middle is an exploration of Wilde's friends and family by the actor and Wilde fanatic Simon Callow.  I've not yet read the Pearson one, and so can't speak to it.  The two best ones, though are (1) Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs. Oscar Wilde by Franny Moyle, which I'm in the midst of reading right now and am really enjoying, and (2) Built of Books by Thomas Wright, which is one of the best biographies I've ever read, period.

These are my Vyvyan and Merlin Holland* books.  Vyvyan Holland was Oscar's only surviving child, Cyril having died in WWI.  He published a pictorial biography of his own (centre) and an autobiography, Son of Oscar Wilde.  The rest of them are by Merlin Holland, Vyvyan's son, who is not only a national treasure, but really a gift to the world.  He's done so much for Oscar's legacy, I can't even begin to express it, and will try very hard now not to verbally flail on about how incredible he really is.  I think—think—these are all of his books, though I may well be wrong.  The two on the left are collections of Oscar's correspondence over his life.  The Wilde Album is another collection of pictures.  Third in from the right, in yellow and red, is The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde, which are uncensored transcripts of his libel case against Bosie's father, the Marquess of Queensberry, and are quite a powerful read.  The red damask-print book next to Real Trial is called Irish Peacock & Scarlet Marquess, which is the exact same thing all over again, only with the title it originally had when published in the UK.  I guess American readers just couldn't do a book with that flamboyant a title?  Anyway.  Because they contain some of Oscar's most supreme wit, I'm going to include the transcripts in my Project, even though it isn't material that Oscar penned; it is important enough to me.  The last one is Coffee With Oscar Wilde, part of a series of books with similar titles, all of which offer insight into their respective subjects under the guise of meeting for coffee and chatting.  It captures the essence of Wilde using actual quotes where appropriate, but mostly just a very keen insight.  The first time I read it, I cried at the end, it seemed that real.

*Following the scandal, Oscar's wife Constance moved to the European continent with their two children and changed their surname to Holland, which is a family name from her side, to keep a low profile.

 These are all* of the anthology/"Complete Works" books I have, none of which are, actually, complete.  The big purple one is my first, the one that's been with me longest, and which stayed with me during my teens, through Uni, and now on to my adult life.  Other than that, there's not much else to say.  Oh, the pink one on the end is turned cover-up because the spine is too faded to read properly.

*Not actually.  I've one more, a neon pink (no, really) hard cover tome which lives in my car so that I always have something guaranteed to be good if I'm stuck in a place and need to read.  I'd have included it here, only it is very cold outside today, and I'm quite lazy.

These are the books I have which, the Complete Works collections aside, are specifically Oscar's fiction.  The four in the middle are short(er) stories, and my two copies of The Picture of Dorian Gray are on either side.  I'm actually quite proud of myself that (again, Complete Works not withstanding) I only own two copies of Dorian, because there are so many pretty versions of it out there.  I've seen a couple that I may try to collect some day, which are beautifully illustrated inside and out.  The big one is one of my antique books, and so doesn't get much handling, whereas the paperback is my standby, and has been with me for more than ten years - by the spine you can tell it's well loved.

These are my poetry, prose, and other non-fiction anthologies which aren't from Merlin Holland.  The two of note are  (1) The Artist as Critic, from biographer Richard Ellmann, is a collection of his essays, literary criticism, and other such writings, and (2) The Uncollected Oscar Wilde, compiled by John Wyse Jackson, another collection of essays, lectures, and critical writings.  It is primarily thanks to these two that I'm now revising and expanding my master list.

 These are a hodgepodge of analysis, Oscariana fiction, and other such offerings.  From left to right:

  • Wilde - the script of the movie starring Stephen Fry as Wilde and Jude Law as Bosie.  It is beautifully and lovingly crafted, the soundtrack is impeccable, and if you've never seen it, please very much do so.
  • Oscar Wilde and A Death of No Importance by Gyles Brandreth - This is a truly silly thing, fiction, casting Oscar as a Holmesian detective when he's not dandying about writing plays or bumming rentboys.  It can only be described as bizarre, and contains an honest to god "What's in the box?!" moment.  Better yet, it is part of a series, which I think I need to get, against my better judgement.  Also, the author was a Conservative MP.
  • Oscar Wilde and the Yellow Nineties by Frances Winwar - Originally published in the '40s, this is an exploration of the Gay Nineties/Belle Epoque, as centred around Oscar and his circle, as well as other outliers.
  • Oscar Wilde: A Long and Lovely Suicide by Melissa Knox - a psychoanalysis of the man and his works.  I've yet to read this, and am saving it for when I've finished this grand escapade.
  • Oscar Wilde: A Study, From the French of Andre Gide - From the French author and Nobel laureate, this book is a reprint of a translation from the Cornell University library collection, dating back to 1905.  "M. Gide's Study of Mr. Oscar Wilde (perhaps the best account yet written of the poet's latter days) appeared first in L'Ermitage, a monthly literary review, in June, 1902.  It was afterwards reprinted with some few slight alterations in a volume of critical essays... by M. Gide.  It is now published in English for the first time, by special arrangement with the author."
  • Oscar Wilde by Katherine Worth - An analysis of his plays, both well known and obscure.
  • Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde by Moises Kaufman - This is a fantastic play, originally starring the brilliant Michael Emerson (Ben Linus from LOST, among others) as Oscar.
  • I Give You Oscar Wilde by Desmond Hall - a "biographical novel".  I've also not read this yet.
  • Oskar Wilde sein drama von Carl Sternheim - Look, I don't speak or read German.  But I know it is a dramatic play about Oscar and his trials, similar to Gross Indecency.  It is old as hell and falling apart, but some day, I swear it, I shall teach myself German by reading this.

And these are the antiques*, dating from a Collected Works volume from 1941 (far left) to another Works Of volume from 1909.  The books are not in order, but are dated as follows (left to right): 1941, 1931 (#361 of 1500 copies), 1930, 1925 (the German play), 1935, 1927, 1909 (#396 of 1000).  Some pictures of the interior pages of each follow, with the exception of the actual antique, which will eventually get its own post, as it is Very Special.

*I'm using this term liberally, I know.  Common practice is that only books over 100 years old are proper antiques, of which I have the one.  However, as they're all at least pushing that mark, they count to me, damn it.  

From 1941

From 1931
Dorian #361/1500

From 1930

From 1925

"What is needed is individualism!" from The Soul of Man Under Socialism

The play came originally from a bookseller in Oxford

From 1935

From 1927

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Oscar Project: Day 1 of 365

I'll do a larger post on this over the weekend with lists and such, but here it is—my new year's resolution, life enrichment activity, whatever.  I am simply calling it: The Oscar Project.

In 2015, it is my intention to read every available writing of Oscar Wilde, in as much of a chronological order as I can manage.  Though I have ready many of his more major works over the years, I've never done an undertaking like this before.  By reading everything I can find, in roughly the order which he wrote it, I hope to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the figure I have admired and adored for roughly half of my life.

He was quite prolific, not just the one novel and nine plays (yes, nine, there are four that are less popular).  He wrote upwards of 75 known poems—I'm convinced my list is lacking—14 short stories, hundreds of letters ("De Profundis" being The One Everyone Knows), as well as at least 44 essays and notable reviews, and four popular lectures that were given repeatedly in the UK and the US.

I've got... a lot.  A lot of books, a lot of saved articles and online archives I've gathered over the past 15 years or so.  But I know I don't have everything.  So that will be part of the fun throughout the year, sleuthing and researching to find the more obscure bits that have been lost to all but academia.

Today I will start with "San Miniato", a poem he wrote, depending on whom you ask, between 1875 (the earliest attribution I can find) and 1881, when it was included in his first book of collected poetry.  Roughly 20 years after this was penned, at the end of his life, Oscar converted to Catholicism and was known to be quite fond of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  Though my guess is that this was inspired by one of his many collegiate trips to Italy, where the town of San Miniato is home to a well known cathedral, it is frankly a little chilling that what is arguably his earliest known work brings his life full circle.  Note also the themes of a journey's end and repentance.

San Miniato, ca. 1875-1881

SEE, I have climbed the mountain side
  Up to this holy house of God,
  Where once that Angel-Painter trod
Who saw the heavens opened wide,

  And throned upon the crescent moon
  The Virginal white Queen of Grace,—
  Mary! could I but see thy face
Death could not come at all too soon.

  O crowned by God with thorns and pain!
  Mother of Christ! O mystic wife!
  My heart is weary of this life
And over-sad to sing again.

  O crowned by God with love and flame!
  O crowned by Christ the Holy One!
  O listen ere the searching sun
Show to the world my sin and shame.