Wildeana 10

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Illustration from The House of Pomegranates (1914) by Jessie M. King.

Continuing an occasional series. Recent Wildean links.

• It’s a measure of a writer’s success if the characters or stories they create resonate sufficiently with future generations to be subject to new interpretations. Among Oscar Wilde’s contemporaries this has happened to Arthur Conan Doyle and Bram Stoker, both of whom Wilde knew. Increasingly it’s been happening to Wilde’s own fiction, especially in the case of Dorian Gray whose tragedy assumes the status of a modern myth. At Cannes this year, Clio Barnard premiered a contemporary retelling of Wilde’s The Selfish Giant. Bleeding Cool has some clips. The social realism is a long way from Wilde’s tale but that shows how flexible these fables can be.

• Jessie M. King’s illustrations for Wilde’s The House of Pomegranates have appeared here before but the copies posted at The Golden Age are the usual quality scans.

Rick Gekoski: “Visiting the US, I am reminded of Oscar Wilde’s tour there in 1881, which allowed him to become an orator and a celebrity.”

Paper Dolls by David Claudon based on the characters from The Importance of Being Earnest. (Thanks to Gabe for the tip.)

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The Oscar Wilde archive

Mrs Patrick Campbell

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The Vampire (1897) by Philip Burne-Jones.

Two pictures of the same woman—Mrs Patrick Campbell (1865–1940)—that were regarded as scandalous in their time. Since the centenary of Bram Stoker’s death recently passed I was looking for better copies of the only painting by Philip Burne-Jones that anyone today bothers with, but the best copies to be had are in books so this is a scan from the Coulthart library. It seems the original is either lost or destroyed which makes its status as poor old Burne-Jones’ most celebrated work doubly unfortunate.

Philip Burne-Jones was the son of Edward Burne-Jones, and Burne-Jones Jr’s depiction of a predatory woman was deemed scandalous not for its content—predatory women were a common fixture of male paranoia in the 1890s—but for the rumours that its model, stage actress Mrs Patrick Campbell, and the artist, were having an affair. Mrs Patrick Campbell was born Beatrice Stella Tanner but took her first husband’s name as her stage name. Given the theme, and the fact that Burne-Jones painting was first exhibited the year that Bram Stoker’s Dracula was published, prints of The Vampire are a regular fixture in books about the cultural history of vampires in general and Dracula in particular.

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Mrs Patrick Campbell (1894) by Aubrey Beardsley. From The Yellow Book, Vol. I.

As for Aubrey’s delightful drawing, this is one of the many Beardsley pictures that caused great consternation when they were first printed yet which appear today to be quite innocuous. Beardsley’s presence in The Yellow Book, and the umbrage taken against drawings such as this, helped give that publication an edge which it lost when Beardsley was forced to leave the magazine following Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment in 1895.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Symbolist cinema
Druillet’s vampires

Weekend links 107

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Le Faune (1923) by Carlos Schwabe.

• “When I recently attended a conference in China, many of the presenters left their papers on the cloud—Google Docs, to be specific. You know how this story ends: they got to China and there was no Google. Shit out of luck. Their cloud-based Gmail was also unavailable, as were the cloud lockers on which they had stored their rich media presentations.” Ubuweb’s Kenneth Goldsmith on why he doesn’t trust the Cloud.

• “I’m a poet and Britain is not a land for poets anymore.” A marvellous interview with the great Lindsay Kemp at Dangerous Minds. Subjects include all that you’d hope for: Genet, Salomé, David Bowie, Ken Russell, Derek Jarman, The Wicker Man and “papier maché giant cocks”.

• “As early as the 1950s, Maurice Richardson wrote a Freudian analysis which concluded that Dracula was ‘a kind of incestuous-necrophilious, oral-anal-sadistic all-in wrestling match’.” Christopher Frayling on the Bram Stoker centenary.

Björk gets enthused by (among other things) Leonora Carrington, The Hour-Glass Sanatorium and Alejandro Jodorowsky’s YouTube lectures.

• Before Fritz Lang’s Metropolis there was Algol – Tragödie der Macht (1920). Strange Flowers investigates.

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David Marsh recreates famous album covers using Adobe Illustrator’s Pantone swatches.

• New titles forthcoming from Strange Attractor Press. Related: an interview with SAP allies Cyclobe.

• 960 individual slabs of vinyl make an animated waveform for Benga’s I Will Never Change.

• An exhibition of works by Stanislav Szukalksi at Varnish Fine Art, San Francisco,

Keith Haring‘s erotic mural for the NYC LGBT Community Center is restored.

The Situationist Times (1962–1967) is resurrected at Boo-Hooray.

• Doors Closing Slowly: Derek Raymond‘s Factory Novels.

Will Wilkinson insists that fiction isn’t good for you.

• More bookplates at BibliOdyssey and 50 Watts.

The Top 25 Psychedelic Videos of All Time.

Flannery O’Connor: cartoonist.

• RIP Adam Yauch.

• Their finest moment: Sabotage (1994) by Beastie Boys.

Symbolist cinema

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Symbolist? Arguably. Decadent? Certainly. Watching Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula (1992) again this weekend I thought it worth making note of some of these resonances. The real age of Symbolist cinema was the Silent Era from around 1910 onwards, something I discussed in more detail here. That being so, several films made since can be taken as Symbolist (more usually Decadent) productions even if this was never their original intention. Kenneth Anger‘s Magic Lantern Cycle comes immediately to mind, so too Sergei Parajanov’s The Colour of Pomegranates.

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Bram Stoker’s novel was published in 1897 at the ebbing of the fin de siècle but vampires and vampirism were already recurrent Symbolist themes. Aesthetic magus Walter Pater wrote of the Mona Lisa in 1893, “She is older than the rocks among which she sits; like the vampire, she has been dead many times, and learned the secrets of the grave…” Dracula almost demands a Symbolist interpretation, and for now Coppola’s production is the closest we get. I’ve found this makes the film more satisfying in a way: you can ignore the shoddy performances by secondary characters and concentrate on the decor and details (and the tremendous score by Wojciech Kilar). Some of the following screen grabs argue my point.

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Oh look, peacock feathers. I loved the artificiality of this film, the excessive palette, the obvious models and miniatures, the layering of images. The dissolve from a peacock feather to Jonathan Harker’s infernal train journey is a great moment.

Continue reading “Symbolist cinema”

Weekend links: New Year edition

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Flower Me Gently (2010) by Linn Olofsdotter.

• “Many of Moorcock’s editorials are published here, and they still make exhilarating reading. Then, as now, Moorcock set his face against a besetting English sin: a snobbish parochial weariness, an ironic superiority to the frightful oiks who have started filling up the streets. You can almost hear, behind the languorous flutter of the pages, Sir Whatsits sniggering to Lady Doo-Dah. It still goes on, and it’s usually the same flummery in different clothes. Moorcock not only would not go to the party: he threw the literary equivalent of explosive devices into the Hampstead living rooms.” Michael Moorcock’s Into the Media Web reviewed. And also here.

• “Beefheart channeled a secret history of America, the underbelly of a continent and a culture that has now all but vanished along with one of its greatest poets.” Jon Savage on the life and work of the late Captain.

Miniatures Blog, in which musician Morgan Fisher works his way through each of the fifty one-minute tracks on his extraordinary Miniatures compilation album, with details and anecdotes about the artists and the recording of each piece.

Look at Life: IN gear (1967). A Rank Organisation newsreel about Swinging London. Sardonic commentary and some great colour photography showing how the often shabby reality differs from the caricature. Many of the shots are familiar from documentaries about the era but this is the first time I’ve seen them all in one place.

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Predator (Self-portrait) by Linn Olofsdotter.

Lewis Carroll’s new story: The Guardian‘s review of Through the Looking-Glass from December, 1871. Related: My Through the Psychedelic Looking-Glass 2011 calendar is now reduced in price.

The United Kingdom and Ireland as seen from the International Space Station, December, 2010. Related: Spacelog, the stories of early space exploration from the original NASA transcripts.

The “Big Basket” Fraud, 1958: “…there seems to be a limited segment with a one-track mind interested in seeing an exaggerated masculine appendage.”

• “Ancient arena of discord”: a billboard for King’s Cross by Jonathan Barnbrook. Related: Vale Royal by Aidan Andrew Dun.

• The inevitable Ghost Box link, Jim Jupp is interviewed at Cardboard Cutout Sundown.

• Amazon is still playing the random moral guardian at the Kindle store.

Antwerpian Expressionists at A Journey Round My Skull.

Salami CD and vacuum packaging by Mother Eleganza.

Paris 1900: L’Architecture Art Nouveau à Paris.

Bill Sienkiewicz speaks about Big Numbers #3.

Philippe Druillet illustrates Dracula, 1968.

Aesthetic Peacocks at the V&A.

Well Did You Evah! (1990), Deborah Harry & Iggy Pop directed by Alex Cox.