Friday, 16 July 2010

Mephitic odours of moral and spiritual putrefaction

Frank Key proffers some extracts from four contemporary reviews of Wilde's 'Picture of Dorian Gray'. We assume our journalism is pretty vicious nowadays but I don't think I've read anything like these, even when a work by Martin Amis was the subject.

Here's one of them, probably the fruitiest:
“This is a tale spawned from the leprous literature of the French decadents – a poisonous book, the atmosphere of which is heavy with mephitic odours of moral and spiritual putrefaction.” – The Daily Chronicle

Pop over and read the others.


malty said...

Mention should be made of William Ernest Henley’s effort to establish, in 1889, The Scots Observer as a literary review and an organ of imperialism, to be issued in Edinburgh, so that the Scottish capital might rival London in the possession of a weekly review, as it had done in quarterly reviewing and in daily journalism. Henley summoned to his colours the most famous Scottish writers of the day, but, in a couple of years, it was found necessary to transfer the paper to London, and to alter its title to The National Observer. Even so, unfortunately, it did not find room for permanent growth.
Obviously the imperial organ wouldn't stretch as far as perverted telegraph boys. The Observer sounds like a Victorian Daily Mail.

The power of television...why can I now never think of Dorian Gray without picturing him as Stephen Fry.

Gaw said...

You don't get many organs of imperialism to the kilo nowadays do you?

Surely perverted telegraph boys (and girls) are the mainstay of the present-day press, perhaps especially the Mail, where the cry goes up 'no, it's not us, it's that other lot - disgusting, should be banned - shove up, let's have another look..'

No Good Boyo said...

I once taught a Russian girlfriend English by reading her Dorian Gray. She had a great vocabulary for hothouse plants by the end of it. I still cherish my Region 1 dvd of the George Sanders film version from the 1940s.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Perverted Telegraph boys?? Simon Heffer, Auberon Waugh, and Sir Peregrine Worsthorne??

Gaw said...

Boyo: A Russian girl talking about hothouse plants in a West Walian accent? But that's one of my secret fantasies.

Gadjo:I imagine they're the least of it.