chapter  1
22 Pages


Wilde's short-story, 'The Portrait of Mr W. H'., written during 1887 and published the following year in Blackwood's is something of a dry-run for Dorian Gray insofar as it explores the erotics of influence between men: the narrator; the older Erskine; and Cyril Graham who concocts the theory that Shakespeare's sonnets were inspired by and dedicated to a beautiful young boy-actor, Willie Hughes. In some respects, Salome is Wilde's most anti-naturalistic drama, and to that degree further evidence of the way his aesthetic theories inform his dramatic practice, but in this context it makes an instructive comparison. But in Salome that process of appropriation is evident only in the way he rewrites the Biblical Salome, transforming her from the passive instrument of others' will, and at the level of language, in what Owen Dudley Edwards calls his 'professional linguistic use' of the Authorized Version of the Bible, a skill he had already demonstrated in his story 'The Young King'.