Declaring His Genius: Oscar Wilde in North America

Arriving at the port of New York in 1882, a 27 year old Oscar Wilde quipped he had nothing to declare but my genius But as Roy Morris, Jr reveals in this sparkling narrative, Wilde was, for the first time in his life, underselling himself A chronicle of the sensation that was Wilde s eleven month speaking tour of America, Declaring His Genius offers an indelible portArriving at the port of New York in 1882, a 27 year old Oscar Wilde quipped he had nothing to declare but my genius But as Roy Morris, Jr reveals in this sparkling narrative, Wilde was, for the first time in his life, underselling himself A chronicle of the sensation that was Wilde s eleven month speaking tour of America, Declaring His Genius offers an indelible portrait of both Oscar Wilde and the Gilded Age.Wilde covered 15,000 miles, delivered 140 lectures, and met everyone who was anyone Dressed in satin knee britches and black silk stockings, the long haired apostle of the British Aesthetic Movement alternately shocked, entertained, and enlightened a spellbound nation Harvard students attending one of his lectures sported Wildean costume, clutching sunflowers and affecting world weary poses Denver prostitutes enticed customers by crying We know what makes a cat wild, but what makes Oscar Wilde Whitman hoisted a glass to his health, while Ambrose Bierce denounced him as a fraud.Wilde helped alter the way post Civil War Americans still reeling from the most destructive conflict in their history understood themselves In an era that saw rapid technological changes, social upheaval, and an ever widening gap between rich and poor, he delivered a powerful anti materialistic message about art and the need for beauty Yet Wilde too was changed by his tour Having conquered America, a savvier, mature writer was ready to take on the rest of the world Neither Wilde nor America would ever be the same.
Declaring His Genius Oscar Wilde in North America Arriving at the port of New York in a year old Oscar Wilde quipped he had nothing to declare but my genius But as Roy Morris Jr reveals in this sparkling narrative Wilde was for the first

  • Title: Declaring His Genius: Oscar Wilde in North America
  • Author: Roy Morris Jr.
  • ISBN: 9780674066960
  • Page: 430
  • Format: Hardcover
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    1 thought on “Declaring His Genius: Oscar Wilde in North America”

    1. OWs 1882 US lecture tour took him to Washington, DC, where he lamented that America had "no ruins, no natural curiousities," whereupon a quick society hostess responded : "Our ruins will come soon enough. And we import our curiousities." He laughed out loud. The opening chapters are lively as the author sees OWs solo show -- written, produced, directed by Wilde -- as an early example of Performance Art which "played" in 140 cities and towns across the country. OWs advisories on how to get beauty [...]

    2. The method of this book is simple: chronicle Oscar Wilde's 1882 tour of America from his arrival in New York harbor to his departure a year later, relying heavily on the entertaining reporting of the day, and taking special pains to introduce to readers the many fascinating, if mostly forgotten, characters with who Wilde visited, conversed, and battled with. To a Wilde fan, the portrait of a 27-year-old Wilde still very much in the process of becoming himself is fascinating, and to a history buf [...]

    3. This book is little more than a timeline peppered with light anecdotes. It is intellectually bereft and its main interest, though never explicitly stated, is the nature of celebrity in America in 1882 when a young, dandified Oscar Wilde arrives in New York for a year-long a lecture circuit.Critically, Morris fails at the outset of the book to provide anything more than the broadest possible context of who Wilde is and where his work and the movement that he represents (Aestheticism) fit into the [...]

    4. Wilde goes to Town X, is interviewed by reporters from Town X's newspapers, and performs at Town X's theater, where he is received with Y. Lots of quotes from the interviews and performances. Repeat a large number of times and you get this book. There are a few interesting historical tidbits pertaining to characters tangentially involved with Wilde's trip. Overall: painfully dull.

    5. Declaring His Genius: Oscar Wilde in North America by Roy Morris jnr. Belknap Press. 248 pp. $26.95."I have nothing to declare but my genius" says Oscar Wilde 1882.1.3 thereby fueling a mini-industry in tea-towels, coffee mugs, etc. The customs officer replies "That, Sir, is a commodity that does not require protection in the United States". This interchange may be a myth, possibly first recorded by Arthur Ransome (1884.1.18-1967) in 1912 and embellished later by Martin Fido. Morris accepts that [...]

    6. The book is a condensed account of Wilde's nearly year-long lecture tour in America, focusing on Wilde's celebrity and often mixed reception in nineteenth-century America. It quoted newspapers, letters, and reviews--primarily primary sources--to give us a sense of the American experience at the time. What I particularly like is that these snippets give us many Wilde gems that we'd miss if we just stuck to his aphorisms and well-known plays. And, this is a big reason why Wilde was famous in the f [...]

    7. If I could I would rate this 2 and a half stars. There was hardly a mention of his time in Canada, it seemed to be brushed over, which was a pity. There is a house still in existence that was created in mind from the lecture House Beautiful when it was delivered in Woodstock. The mayor and his wife of a nearby community that is now known as Tillsonburg built their family home on the inspiration of this lecture. It has no mention in the book. Nor the fact if you go to the City Hall in Woodstock y [...]

    8. In 2013, the Irish playwright and wit Oscar Wilde returned to the stage as the subject two new productions. "The Judas Kiss", the restaging of David Hare's 1998 play about Wilde's relationship with "Bosie" (Lord Alfred Douglas), is receiving rave reviews from theater-goers in London (including by me!) and the Santa Fe Opera is premiering a newly written opera about Wilde in their 2013 season. And along with the renewed interest in Oscar Wilde comes a small book, "Declaring His Genius: Oscar Wild [...]

    9. In 1882, Oscar Wilde, charming but still at the height of his youthful offending for stunt publicity and with a 27 year old's arch brittleness, came to America on a speaking tour tethered to Gilbert and Sullivan's American production of Patience, which contained a caricature of Wilde and was a clever 19th century exercise in marketing synergy. Wilde took this on as a one-man British invasion (plus suitable support staff and wardrobe), and proceeded to offend and stir east coast audiences, stoppi [...]

    10. I didn't finish it. It was interesting at first because I really knew nothing about Wilde. I'm still interested in the man, but I became bored with his activities while in the US. Just seemed to be a pattern of "making" an appearance, offending the locals, and then boring the locals with a monotone speech about fashion.

    11. Great account of OW time in America. Was surprised to read that it was not the success I thought it was. He was definitely a role model for celebrity seekers. He knew how to play the part of getting media on his side. I also enjoyed the encounters with Walt Whitman and James Joyce. For Oscar fans

    12. Cut some of the unending newspaper reviews. Wished for more insights into the young Wilde's motivations to tour and his reactions to Americans. Wished for more on the tour-management business. Especially wished to know how Wilde was changed.

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