Friday, 27 February 2009

Slash and Swinburne

You know what really irks? It's when you're writing an essay on Algernon Charles Swinburne, and in your wanderings round the world-wide-webble, you learn that Oscar Wilde allegedly described Algernon Charles Swinburne as “a braggart in matters of vice, who had done everything he could to convince his fellow citizens of his homosexuality and bestiality without being in the slightest degree a homosexual or a bestializer,” and this would be the most excellent alleged allegation in the world for the purposes of your essay, except that though the www has over three hundred instances of this purported Wildeanism, not one of them tells you where or when Wilde allegedly said what he allegedly did say, and so you could cite the alleged Wilde quotation in your essay, but you would have to accompany it with a whopping big disclaimer, and a glaring gap where the comments about to whom or why or when Wilde said what he allegedly said should be. Meanwhile, you have spent the last two hours checking every darn database in town. To No Avail.

Happily, however, I just checked the letterbox, and it turns out that after two years of diligently swiping my FlyBuys card, I am now entitled to a $20 voucher.

11 comments:

Jen said...

But don't you know that Oscar Wilde said everything?

On a more serious note - Myer One, dude! I get a $20 voucher every six months or so. That's gotta beat FlyBuys any day. Of course, it does require spending money at Myer...

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

If Myer sets up a cheap line in loo paper and spaghetti, I'll seriously consider it, m'dear.

TimT said...

Email Glenn Everett. He used the quote in this essay, and he seems to have credentials (though what credentials those who gave him his credentials have, I do not know.) Anyway, several sources on the net seem to reference him (and by several, I mean two).

I think I might use it anyway, as it's one of those possibly-false quotes that are too good not to use. Just like:

WHISTLER: There's only one thing in the world worse than being witty and that is not being witty.
(Fifteen seconds more of the same)
WILDE: I wish I had said that.
WHISTLER: You will, Oscar, you will.

TimT said...

Oscar Wilde also famously said, 'This play is a load of bollocks', but that one never quite made it into the collected quotations.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

Thanks, Timnus. Good sergestion. And I've gone and writ an email to Glenn.

TimT said...

I shall whistle 'Down in the Glen' in his honour. Also, I nabbed that Whistler/Wilde quote from the first website I came to, which turned out to be a Monty Python skit - hence the seemingly meaningless stage direction amidst the dialogue.

eyrie said...

I can't hope to match the wit of Tim's research assistance, but Victoria Web is certainly trustworthy, so you should be in luck as to its existence. My first move would be to check for references to Swinburne in the index of Wilde's letters. Failing that, you could send a query to the VICTORIA discussion group, whose members are prompt and generous.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

Thanks, Eyrie. Glenn of Victoria Web wrote back and he can't remember whence he sourced the quotation. Suggests I visit the indices of Swinburne's print biographies - which is a good suggestion, except that I was hoping not to have to leave the comfort of my deskchair.

eyrie said...

I own the Donald Thomas one and Wilde is only in the index once (p.198- Swinburne didn't think much of him either, apparently). My hunch would be that it's probably in the Gosse one (this is where Thomas gets the small reference to Wilde he has), which, sadly, is only available as a snippet view on Google Books. So unless your library has a pretty extensive database of nineteenth-century prose, you could well have to go "old school" and forsake the desk chair, I'm afraid.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

You happen to have a Swinburne biography in your personal possession? That's very impressive. I thought noone was interested in Swinburne except me - and I've only been since I read his work on Blake. Dyou know that this year's the centenary of his death? I'm wondering if I can get up a Swinburne Appreciation Movement for the occasion.

I'd really like to read the Gosse biography of Swinburne -- though more for what it says of G (trying to pretend he was in with the Aesthetes) than S.

My institution's library has a good collection of S biographies

eyrie said...

I have a few things about Swinburne in my personal collection and have liked him since my undergraduate days (I suspect that probably says that I have a lascivious mind of a long standing). I was once interrupted reading Swinburne and eating strawberries by a young mormon and was so annoyed that I was actually a bit rude to him. Swinburne hasn't had as many critical editions and so on as he merits.

It's all Darwin so far as anniversaries go. Even the Milton 400th pales in comparison. I would certainly support the Swinburne Appreciation movement. And Gosse is also extremely fascinating, judging from Father and Son.