Weekend links 196

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Cochemare (1810) by Jean Pierre Simon. One of 100,000 high-resolution images now available from Wellcome Images.

• Ted Morgan’s Literary Outlaw: The Life and Times of William S. Burroughs (1990) was a solid biography blighted by a bizarrely bad-tempered and judgemental attitude towards many of Burroughs’ friends and colleagues. Morgan says Burroughs disliked the book (he also says his subject died in 1993, not 1997…) so I’m looking forward to the new biography by Barry Miles, Call Me Burroughs: A Life. There’s a curious detail in Jeremy Lybarger’s piece about August Derleth, HP Lovecraft’s publisher and lifetime champion, causing a fuss after the Chicago Review published extracts from Naked Lunch in 1958. Burroughs enjoyed Lovecraft’s fiction but it’s unlikely that Lovecraft would have been anything other than appalled by Burroughs’s work. Barry Miles will be holding a Q&A session at the ICA, London, next month following a screening of Howard Brookner’s restored documentary, Burroughs: The Movie.

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 105 by Sturqen. At 3quarksdaily Dave Maier writes in praise of drones (the musical variety), and links to three mixes.

• Interviews: Haakon Nelson talks to Harold Budd, Joseph Burnett talks to William Basinski, John Stezaker talks to Nicolas Roeg.

Derek responded to an invitation to address [AIDS] hysteria by lining the gallery with a set of tarred and feathered mattresses loaded with the traces of queer love-making and then framing them against wallpaper made from Xeroxed, blood-spattered front pages. In the middle of all this he then constructed a makeshift barbed-wire cage that imprisoned and protected a pair of apparently naked lovers – usually a pair of handsome, sleeping boys, but for one afternoon at least Tilda Swinton dropped by, just to make the point that the boys didn’t have an exclusive stake in or artistic rights to this crisis. Between the walls and the cage, the air of the gallery was thick with tension and hatred – sometimes literally so, as visitors to the gallery objected vociferously to what they were seeing.

Neil Bartlett on celebrating Derek Jarman 20 years after his death.

• William Friedkin’s Wages of Fear remake, Sorcerer (1977), receives an overdue reissue on DVD/Blu-ray in April.

James Knowlson asks “What lies beneath Samuel Beckett’s half-buried woman in Happy Days?”

• The UK’s web filtering seems to be blocking common sense says Jane Fae.

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A devil buggering a man (19th century).

• The poetry of Hart Crane, from the American epic to personal belonging.

The Sonny Sharrock Quartet play Stupid Fuck, live 1988.

Pinterest nightmares

Borogoves

• Lutinemusic: Espera | Died Of Love | All I Have Is Gold

Wildeana #8

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Illustration by H. Paul.

Continuing an occasional series.

Front Free Endpaper has illustrations by one H. Paul from a “talking book” adaptation of Wilde’s The Happy Prince. This was a hardcover volume published in 1948 which came with a 78rpm vinyl disc containing a recording of the story by BBC newsreader Frank Phillips. Callum found the reading on YouTube. By coincidence I discovered this week that Klaus Kinski recorded some of Wilde’s stories in 1959, German versions of The Happy Prince (again) and The Selfish Giant, and also a reading of The Young King.

Wilde is strikingly prophetic in his denunciations of what he describes here as “authoritarian socialism”.  He says again that in the present state of affairs, at least some men with the advantages of privilege manage to find themselves, to realise their potential “If the Socialism is authoritarian; if there are governments to be armed with economic power as they are now with political power; if, in a word, we are to have industrial tyrannies, then the last state of man will be worse than the first.”  At least some can have freedom now, in this state, no-one would at all. Wilde sees no virtue at all in the equitable distribution of misery.  The collectivism of compunction which existed in Soviet Russia or Mao’s China was precisely the nightmare scenario he was warning against. It seems clear though that Wilde actually thought the sheer unattractiveness of this made it unlikely. “I hardly think any Socialist, nowadays, would seriously propose that an inspector should call every morning to see that each citizen rose up and did manual labour for eight hours”.  He may have ‘hardly thought’ it, but at the same time Wilde wrote this there were plenty of socialists who had just such a vision in mind – and sadly their type were to proliferate, and in some areas to predominate. No wonder that The Soul of Man was an inspiration to many revolutionaries rebelling against the Tsars of Russia, but was later suppressed and banned by Stalin himself.

Ben Granger takes a lengthy and perceptive look at The Soul of Man Under Socialism (1891), an essay of Wilde’s that seldom receives the same degree of attention as his other works.

• “As the weeks have gone by, it’s become clear to my actors that Dorian is the work of a much darker – more radical, and more modern – writer than the flippant genius we’re all so familiar with.” So says Neil Bartlett whose new stage production of The Picture of Dorian Gray is currently running at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin.

• A recipe for Oscar Wilde Strawberry Champagne cocktails? Yes, please.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The Oscar Wilde archive

Oscar Wilde playing cards

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A set of playing cards created in 1986 by artist Rosita Fanto in association with Wilde biographer Richard Ellmann. Out of print now as these things usually are but this card trading site has more views of the cards, as does this page. Fanto and Ellmann also created a card set based on James Joyce’s life and work.

The Oscar Wilde Playing Cards condense Wilde into pictorial form. Three suits are based upon his writings: Hearts are Instigations, Clubs are Images, Diamonds are Complications. Spades are Happenings in his life. Richard Ellman, Wilde’s biographer, has devised the intricate scheme, and R. Fanto has executed the witty and unexpected drawings, with occasional allusion to previous designs.

Update: Neil Bartlett reviews Oscar’s Books by Thomas Wright.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The Oscar Wilde archive