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Oscar Wilde wrote this play in 1891. His text is in French, while staying in Paris. It has been suggested that Wilde wrote the play as a vehicle for the actress, Sarah Bernhardt, and she showed interest in starring in a London performance; and a production was planned when the play was suddenly banned from the London stage because of its depiction of Biblical characters. Wilde was furious. "If the Censor refuses Salome, I shall leave England to settle in France where I shall take out letters of naturalization. I will not consent to call myself a citizen of a country that shows such narrowness in artistic judgment. I am not English. I am Irish, which is quite another thing."
The play was then translated into English by Wilde's male lover, Lord Alfred Douglas. Wilde was not pleased with the translation and it has been rumored that he "corrected" its text before publication. Aubrey Beardsley supplied grotesquely delicious illustrations, one of which ("The Woman in the Moon") shewed irreverence toward Wilde.
The play is a work of High Decadence and was composed in the same spirit with which Wilde wrote other works around this time, "The Harlot's House" and THE PICTURE OR DORIAN GRAY. The play is richly poetic and highly erotic. The fantasy that Salome dances so as to win the head of the murdered John the Baptist is Wilde's fabrication, yet there are those who now accept it as Gospel truth. This is an extremely powerful drama and, produced with care, can be a potent theatrical experience. The play itself has been incorporated fantastically in the perverse and wondrous film, SALOME'S LAST DANCE.--Submitted by Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire.
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