SALOMÉ. A Tragedy in One Act:. Oscar Wilde.
SALOMÉ. A Tragedy in One Act:
SALOMÉ. A Tragedy in One Act:

SALOMÉ. A Tragedy in One Act:

Translated from the French of Oscar Wilde, with Sixteen Drawings by Aubrey Beardsley. London: John Lane, The Bodley Head | New York: John Lane Company, 1907 [vere September 1906]. Original olive green cloth elaborately decorated in gilt.

First trade edition to contain the two "hitherto suppressed" Beardsley plates -- their only prior appearance was in the pirated 250-copy limited edition published by "Melmoth & Co." (Leonard Smithers) in 1904.

Wilde's "Salomé" was being rehearsed in June 1892 for production in London (with Sarah Bernhardt in the lead), when the Lord Chamberlain exercised his censorial rights and closed it down, forcing the premiere to occur in Paris. At that time Wilde wrote,

I shall publish SALOMÉ. No one has the right to interfere with me, and no one shall interfere with me... The action of the Censorship in England is odious and ridiculous... If the Censor refuses SALOMÉ [which he did], I shall leave England and settle in France where I will take out letters of naturalization. I will not consent to call myself a citizen of a country which shows such narrowness in its artistic judgment.

Thus the true first edition (in French, unillustrated and in wrappers) was published in Paris in 1893. The year after, Mathews & Lane published the first edition in English -- translated from Wilde's French by his friend and lover Lord Alfred Douglas, and provocatively illustrated by Aubrey Beardsley, known for his Japanese-style portrayals of the grotesque, the decadent and the erotic. Two of Beardsley's plates -- plus his drawing that was to appear as a wrapper design -- were suppressed from the 1894 edition (and from subsequent printings of the same).

In addition to the original wrapper design (here used in gilt on the binding), the two plates here first enjoying trade publication are "John and Salomé" (opposite p. 20) and "The Toilette of Salomé II" (opposite p. 50). Although the latter is the second so-titled in the book, it was actually the first created by Beardsley: Mathews & Lane had rejected it in 1894 (naked Salomé and naked androgynous youth were apparently OK, but not the other youth masturbating in the foreground) -- so Beardsley produced the much-tamer other version for the 1894 edition. Incidentally, several of the other plates include a peripheral caricature of Wilde -- the frontispiece plus those opposite pages 16, 24, and 32. Beardsley later may have regretted this SALOMÉ collaboration with Wilde, because when Wilde was arrested for indecent morals in 1895, Beardsley was fired, by association, from his job as art editor of The Yellow Book. In any event, Beardsley died (at 25!) in 1898 and Wilde followed (at 46) in 1900.

Condition is very good-plus, perhaps near-fine, with some light wear at the extremities; the plates (on Japan vellum) are clean and sharp. In all: this 1907-dated volume combines four giants of the British Age of Decadence -- Wilde, Beardsley, Douglas and Lane. Mason 355; Gallatin pp 46-49; Samuels Lasner 59D. Item #14601

Price: $675.00

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