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Wilde's French Salomé

Abstract : This paper focuses on Wilde’s use of French in his dramatization of the Biblical story, Salomé. It argues that Wilde adopted the foreign language as a strategy for representing the taboo of incestuous and homoerotic desire, murder and necrophilia. His aesthetic objective was to produce a work belonging to the school of French decadentism and adhering to its principles of symbolism. He uses the French language as if it were a system of signs divorced from their semantic meaning, creating as pure a musical notation as verbal language can allow. A study of the manuscript versions of his play reveals his limited knowledge of French, though this paper interprets the mistakes as key to his poetic achievement. Wilde’s play is untranslatable: both the illustrator Aubrey Beardsley and the composer Richard Strauss recognized the quintessential French quality of the script, and respected it in their creative translations into another artistic genre.
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Emily Eells. Wilde's French Salomé. Cahiers Victoriens et Edouardiens, Montpellier : Centre d'études et de recherches victoriennes et édouardiennes, 2010, Studies in the Theatre of Oscar Wilde, ⟨10.4000/cve.2729⟩. ⟨hal-01676193⟩

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