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Salomé (1893)

by Oscar Wilde

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,5782911,246 (3.56)72
Drama. Fiction. HTML:

Salome is a tragic play written by Oscar Wilde, which tells the biblical story of Salome. Salome dances the Dance of the Seven Veils so well that she receives a boon from her stepfather Herod Antipas. Much to his dismay and her mother's delight she requests the head of John the Baptist on a silver platter. Though John is a favorite of Herod and under his protection, Herod cannot rescind his boon.

Wilde originally wrote the play in French, and it was translated three years later into English.

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» See also 72 mentions

English (26)  Swedish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (28)
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Bare Bones Edition
Review of the HarperPerennial Classics Kindle eBook (November 25, 2014) of the English language translation (1894) of the French language original (1893).

Ah! I have kissed thy mouth, Jokanaan. I have kissed thy mouth. There was a bitter taste on thy lips. Was it the taste of blood…? But perchance it is the taste of love…They say that love hath a bitter taste…But what of that?


I read Oscar Wilde's Salome as background for my current reading of Silvia Moreno-Garcia's upcoming The Seventh Veil of Salome (currently available as a NetGalley ARC, expected publication July 16, 2024). Although published under the HarperPerennial Classics imprint there was no introductory essay or background to provide any historical context which you would normally expect in a "classics" edition. A reader interested in those things will have to do a considerable amount of research.

The history of the play can be read on Wikipedia. The (mostly) mythical history of Salome can also be read on Wikipedia. The main points of interest about the play were that it was originally written in French, and even after translation it could not be performed in England (supposedly because of a ban on portraying Biblical characters on stage) due to the public censors. Although the English translation was published in 1894, the translation had to wait until 1931 to be performed.

The other curious thing is the use of the name Jokanaan for John the Baptist. Introducing the letter "k" into the name is odd, as the Biblical version (Biblical Greek: Ἰωάννης / Iōánnēs) doesn't have anything like it. Presumably it comes from the occasional Hebrew spelling as "Jochanan" with the "ch" pronounced as a "k"?

See title page at https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/f/f8/Salome-title-page-1893.png/...
Title page of the original French language edition (1893). Image sourced from Wikipedia.

The Salome portrayed in Wilde's play is an exaggerated fictional figure used to convey various degrees of lust and depravity. Character motivation is slim. Salome lusts for John the Baptist and when he rebuffs her, she takes her revenge by demanding his beheading so that she can finally kiss his lips. Her stepfather, the Tetrarch Herod Antipas, horrified at the blood-drenched spectacle, orders his soldiers to kill her to end the play. The real life Salome went on to marry 3 times, finally becoming the Queen of Armenia.

See painting at https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/94/19_Salome.JPG/800px-19...
Original full painting of “Salome” by Juana Romani (1867-1923), cropped for the HarperPerennial Classics cover. Image sourced from Wikipedia by Carolina Carlesimo - Transferred from it.wikipedia to Commons. 20 October 2011 (original upload date). Original uploader was Gabriele Romani at it.wikipedia, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17083490.

Trivia and Links
Salome is in the Public Domain and can be read online at various sites such as Project Gutenberg.

The original French language Salomé is also in the Public Domain and can be read online at various sites such as Project Gutenberg.

Oscar Wilde's Salome has been the inspiration and source of the plot / libretto / screenplay for various ballets, operas and films which are too many to list here. See a list at the Wikipedia for Salome (Play): Themes and Derivatives. ( )
  alanteder | Jan 20, 2024 |
Story: 7 / 10
Characters: 7
Setting: 9
Prose: 8

Themes: Desire, Religion, Power ( )
  MXMLLN | Jan 12, 2024 |
Curious, more than anything else, what Wilde's play would be like. Thankfully it was a quick read. I can see why Wilde received a lot of notoriety about the play, but I don't understand why anyone would consider this good literature. Certain characters keep repeating the same lines, as if they can't remember what they were really supposed to say and there's no one to prompt them with the "real" line. The illustrations done for this work are truly bizarre, and did not add anything to the experience. ( )
  MarkLacy | May 29, 2022 |
Maybe I'm missing the connections, but I found that Beardsley's drawings didn't correspond at all to WIlde's text... It's not really surprising though, because Beardsley was famous for doing his own thing even when he was given a text to illustrate. None the less, I was very impressed by both the play and he illustrations on their own. Beardsley's linework and characterization were intriguing and beautiful, even if we have no actual idea of who they correspond to in the play. As for Wilde's text, he carefully blended literary and biblical themes with those of common humanity (ti doesn't get much more real than the revenge of a woman scorned from love), and I found myself very attracted to Salomé's wild and determined feamel archetype. ( )
  JaimieRiella | Feb 25, 2021 |
Nada que ver con las otras obras de Oscar Wilde.
Parece que los personajes no hacen mas que enfocarse en un tema y hablar de el hasta agotarlo, moverse al siguiente tema, y asi hasta el final.
Quiza no lo he entendido pero no he sacado demasiado de esta lectura. ( )
  trusmis | Nov 28, 2020 |
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» Add other authors (225 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wilde, OscarAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Angelo, ValentiIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Arbasino, AlbertoForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beardsley, AubreyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Derain, Andresecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Douglas, Lord AlfredTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holland, VyvyanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martin, FrankIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Porzio, DomenicoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ross, Robert BaldwinIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Valenti, AngeloIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vassos, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vroom, Jean-PaulIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Scene. A great terrace in the Palace of Herod, set above the banqueting-hall. Some soldiers are leaning over the balcony. To the right there is a gigantic staircase, to the left, at the back, an old cistern surrounded by a wall of green broze. The moon is shining very brightly.
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Wilde wrote the play in French. The standard English translation was done by his lover Lord Alfred Douglas.
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Drama. Fiction. HTML:

Salome is a tragic play written by Oscar Wilde, which tells the biblical story of Salome. Salome dances the Dance of the Seven Veils so well that she receives a boon from her stepfather Herod Antipas. Much to his dismay and her mother's delight she requests the head of John the Baptist on a silver platter. Though John is a favorite of Herod and under his protection, Herod cannot rescind his boon.

Wilde originally wrote the play in French, and it was translated three years later into English.

.

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