62 Matching Annotations
  1. Apr 2018
  2. Nov 2016
    1. Maria has lost one who was once like a brother to her

      The story of Miriam/Maria and Antonio’s relation is never fully told by Wilde. The remark here suggests something of the reason why Maria may have taken on the pseudonym of Miriam, who was the elder sister of Moses and who watched as he was discovered and adopted by the Pharaoh’s daughter, intervening so that his nurse would be of Jewish blood. Imagining Antonio as the lost son, we can begin to sense their connection, although this does not suggest why they were exiled from their native Spain or from each other.

    2. sad of mouth and eye

      This description of Kenyon’s travels resembles, particularly in this phrase, William Morris’ description of Launcelot’s quest to reach Guenevere in Glastonbury in King Arthur’s Tomb (1858). In his ‘Garden of Eros’ of 1881, Wilde paid tribute to Morris as a poet who “with soft and sylvan pipe has oft beguiled / The weary soul of man in troublous need”.

    1. Sr Carlo Binbua, Santa María de Montserrat de los Españoles

      The address here suggests what Wilde has already hinted: that Miriam and Brother Antonio are of Spanish origin, and that they have some significant connection to the Catholic Church.

    1. The laying out of that man in the church of his brotherhood made a strong and unpleasant impression upon her, which the beauty of your native countryside has yet to overcome.

      Kenyon here appeals to the beauty of Tuscany as the healing balm for Hilda’s disdain for Donatello. The idea of natural beauty, and more generally beauty, as a curative for negative experience is a common one.

    2. It is to be delivered to an address in Rome on a specific day, upon Miriam’s express order.

      It is somewhat unusual that Miriam continues to have this stipulation despite knowing that Donatello will be travelling. Chapter 13 is vague about the instructions given by Miriam to Donatello, and about the changes that she makes to the package from the one that Hilda offers her.

    3. Arthur Derby,

      Although we are given no surname earlier in the novel, it is safe to assume that this Arthur is the same as the one who formed part of the midnight walking group in Chapter 10.

    1. apparently unaware of what occurred beneath her

      It is generally thought that the suckling twins beneath the wolf are an addition to the original she-wolf, as they are made in a wholly different style.

    1. Salomé

      Wilde wrote his one-act play Salomé much later, in 1891. The subject began to fascinate Wilde, it seems, after Pater introduced him to Hérodias (one of Flaubert’s Trois Contes) in late 1877. The mention here thus seems to be, by and large, following Hawthorne’s own description of Donatello considering some of Miriam’s sketches, which Wilde had omitted from his Chapter 4 but perhaps did not wish to abandon entirely. It is worth noting that Hawthorne does not name Salomé, but refers to her through her father and the story. Wilde’s reframing of the description shows a sensitivity to the tale that was later to show in his play.

    2. the final few touches

      The portrait seems to be in a state of convenient limbo. In Chapter 4, it appeared that Donatello was doing his final sitting, as perhaps intended by Miriam, but the portrait was not quite concluded.

    3. you must resign yourself to conduct inferior work afterward!

      All three of the artists in Wilde’s novel are at the height of their powers, it seems, and this feature is more pronounced than in Hawthorne’s novel. Wilde sharpens the contrast between the three artistic friends, achieving great aesthetic feats, and Donatello and Miriam’s still-nameless model, who both lack such skills or outlet, and so wreak change in the world instead.

    4. that was all

      The phrase “that was all” is used by Dorian Gray as he attempts to reason with the supernatural nature of his picture. There are many echoes between how Miriam reconciles herself to her past acquaintance’s death and how Dorian behaves. It may be that Wilde had in mind, consciously or unconsciously, some of the phrases and ideas expressed in this work when writing the only novel he published during his lifetime.

    1. the deed which she was forced to witness.

      Donatello’s crime, such as it may have been, is enlarged here and seems to become fixed in Kenyon’s mind not from his own observation of it, but from the conversation here with Donatello. “I saw but little” becomes a deed that (presumably) both he and Hilda were “forced to witness”.

    2. “You say that it was done with your good will, Kenyon?”

      Donatello seeks here the approval of Kenyon, rather than of Miriam. The knowledge of the murder, if it is such, becomes momentarily a homosocial affair.

    3. before Saint Francis

      The church contains, in the first chapel, Gherado delle Notti’s Christ Mocked alongside the St Michael of Guido, which is not mentioned in the narrative. In the second chapel, which Miriam and Donatello have apparently passed over. is a Transfiguration (Mario Balassi) and a Nativity scene (Lanfranco). It is to Domenichino’s Saint Francis receives stigmata that Donatello turns. There is a certain similarity to the structure of the two paintings, which feature an upright principal figure and a secondary figure in the bottom-right corner, but while St Francis turns his face upwards to the heavens, St Michael’s face is turned downwards at the devil whom he tackles. St Francis, the first to receive the stigmata, died while reciting Psalm 142, which has as its closing lines “In the path where I walk people have hidden a snare for me”. One may speculate about whether Donatello recollects this fact, as the innocent ensnared by people around him is a facet of the Donatello character in both Hawthorne and Wilde’s novels (although Hawthorne makes it more explicit by blaming Miriam’s look for Donatello’s murder of the model). On the other hand, the turn to St Francis may be a commentary by Wilde on Donatello-as-Faun, as St Francis was known for preaching sermons to animals.

    1. satyr

      Wilde’s insistence on the distinction between fauns and satyrs is evident throughout the novel, and reflects his interest in distinguishing Greek and Roman mythology, as it was in the latter that the satyr and faun became conflated. Broadly, one can distinguish between followers of Dionysus (satyrs) and followers of Pan (fauns). The satyr is primal, lustful, and drunken, and they were often more horse-like than fauns, who were distinctly goat-like in their representations, and who were associated more with the rural wilderness and mountainous regions. The sexual nature of the satyr lends the dark spectre of Wilde’s novel a particularly threatening air.

    1. rusticated

      The word is slightly misused, but is an amusing reference to Wilde’s own circumstances.

    2. Archangel

      Wilde leaves it to the reader to infer from Kenyon’s description, or their prior knowledge, that the Archangel is Michael, setting his foot upon the demon.

    3. gaze

      Hawthorne waxes about the “delightful” nature of believing in these drawings’ “authenticity”, as such sketches “make the spectator more vividly sensible of a great painter’s power” than the completed work. Wilde attributes less import, as well he might, in the circumstances, to provenance; Donatello’s enjoyment is, instead, purely of the form.

    1. that which he wished to flee

      Hilda’s description mirrors that of the man himself in the previous chapter, suggesting her keenness of insight and objectivity, in contrast to Kenyon’s hasty judgment and uncertainty.

    2. an English accent on her tongue

      Given Wilde’s rapid acquisition of such an accent, we may detect a hint of irony in Kenyon’s remark that such elocution tells little of the person.

    3. freely

      The repetition of “freely”, here and in the first paragraph, to describe somatic motion is suggestive of the bodily freedoms that might be derived through art and aestheticism.

    1. all the risk of its sweet music still being her own

      Hawthorne’s original makes a passing reference to “persons with overburdened hearts” making confessions to “holes in the earth”, an oblique reference to the fable of the king with a donkey’s ears, whose barber tells the secret to a hole that is later discovered by children. In an Irish variant, the king’s barber tells a tree, which is then chopped down and turned into a harp, which retells the king’s secret in its first melody in front of him. Wilde renders more explicit the danger that Miriam might invite upon herself by warning Donatello of her own unsuitability.

    2. springs

      It is not quite clear what Wilde wishes to imply here. It may be a case of labouring the metaphor, or to suggest that Donatello is perhaps not as young as his character implies. There is a greater air of ambiguity about Wilde’s Donatello than Hawthorne’s gently besotted soul.

    1. a little way

      Palazzo Cenci is only a short distance from Via di Tor Millina, on the other side of Piazza Navona. The Borghese Gardens, however, are much further away, in much the same direction as Kenyon’s studio. The suggestion is that Miriam has been delaying her meeting with Donatello, perhaps for the purposes of avoiding the model who haunts her step.

    2. producing a photograph so true to life

      Beatrice Cenci was a figure of much interest in the mid-nineteenth century. Juliet Margaret Cameron produced a set of photographs, not of Reni’s picture, but of contemporary women portraying Cenci in various poses.

    3. clavigera

      Wilde uses the word in the sense of ‘key-bearer’ here. It is most commonly recognised as part of the title of John Ruskin’s series of letters to working men, Fors Clavigera, in which he provides three definitions, ‘key-bearer’ being the third.

    4. coterie

      Wilde abandons Hawthorne’s “confraternity”, a religious and gendered term, in favour of an Aesthetic one. Although Hilda remains associated with the Virgin Mary, her religiosity, and in particular her Puritanism, is all but washed away in Wilde’s new version.

    5. Hilda’s studio

      Wilde’s directions are more explicit than Hawthorne’s, tracing a course from Kenyon’s apartment near the Piazza del Popolo towards what must be Tor Millina, just west of Piazza Navona.

    6. Poseidon

      Wilde chooses to use the Greek name for Neptune, perhaps with his mind still partly full of his short trip to Athens, which preceded his stay in Rome.

    7. Dovecote

      In Wilde’s story, Hilda has no actual doves. The naming of Hilda’s home thus seems to suggest an ironic jab at Hawthorne’s original, although Wilde does go on to associate Hilda with doves elsewhere throughout the novel.

    1. “Would that I knew how you might, Kenyon.”

      Wilde removes all of Kenyon’s doubts about his capacity to understand and sympathise with Miriam, instead figuring this moment of missed understanding—in reality a moment for Wilde to signal a secret—as one of uncertainty in Miriam.

    2. Marc Antony

      Alma-Tadema was to paint Antony and Cleopatra a few years later, although with little of the attention to authentic Egyptian dress that Kenyon shows here.

    3. Veils can be made translucent in marble as in lace

      Chauncey Bradley Ives had not yet completed ‘Undine Rising from the Waters’, but Strazza’s ‘Veiled Virgin’ was completed at least two decades prior, and may be what Wilde had in mind here, as a Carrara marble sculpture produced in Rome.

    4. a grand, calm head of Milton, moulded after the long and careful study of all known representations of the poet with whom Kenyon shared a birthplace

      Wilde’s flight of fancy links Kenyon to Cheapside in London. In the previous chapter, Kenyon’s home in England was described as strewn with repurposed ruins. This could indicate London, or perhaps that Kenyon was born in one place and grew up in another. York would be an obvious example for the description in Chapter 4.

    5. Studio

      That Wilde follows “Miriam’s Studio” with “The Sculptor’s Studio” seems to distinguish between the two characters and their creative spaces, but also of course draws them into dialogue, a key feature of his bringing together of Kenyon and Miriam in a way that Hawthorne did not.

    1. shade⁠

      Wilde changes Hawthorne’s “wretch” to “shade” here, emphasising the supernatural element of the guide’s story, as well as creating a starker contrast between the supposedly lost fellow and the sunshine that penetrates only the shallowest regions of the catacombs.

    2. The singular nature of Miriam’s model’s first appearance, and the way in which he had become one of Miriam’s train of followers, had little attracted Kenyon’s sympathies

      Wilde in this chapter bundles up two separate episodes of Hawthorne’s text. As the text proceeds, the direct structural linkages between Wilde’s novel and Hawthorne’s fall away, revealing a pattern entirely of Wilde’s own making. Here, his decision creates a greater link between Kenyon’s attitudes towards Miriam and her model, and the scene in the catacomb, than existed in Hawthorne’s work, strengthening the attachment between Miriam and Kenyon. The change also defers contemplation of Miriam’s “ambiguity” until after the events in the catacomb, increasing our sympathy with her.

    3. “Even from hour to hour, in canvas or in flesh” Miriam agreed.⁠

      There is a certain banal facticity about the changing appearance of painted figures as paints dry, both oil or watercolour. Miriam’s remark, Wilde’s addition, is suggestive of his only other novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and the idea seems prioritised by Wilde’s decision to remove the remainder of Miriam’s remarks and attribute them to Hilda, leaving the comment as a conversational road not taken.

    4. I defy any painter to move and elevate me without my own consent and assistance

      There is a Paterian element to this assertion that, although echoing Hawthorne’s Kenyon, is suggestive of Wilde’s emerging theories of aestheticism, and the role of art and spectator.

    1. Kenyon

      Wilde changes the addressee here from Hilda to Kenyon, again suggestive of the reorientation of relations to come.

    2. cat⁠

      Hawthorne writes “dog”. The change is insignificant and whimsical, but also suggestive of Wilde’s different attitude to his characters.

    3. His hand joined hers on the sculpture before carefully freeing them both from its attractive force.⁠

      This additional sentence is the first hint at the different relations that Wilde imagines for the four friends, which become clearer as his version of the novel progresses.

    4. stands on the very edge of Nature, with both feet in it but his toes straining at the circle that bounds him

      Miriam repeats Kenyon's metaphor of the Faun both unveiled—at the very edge of Nature—and restrained.

    5. Having succeeded in imprisoning the frisky creature in marble, he makes it seem contented, too, ignorant of his own restraints. The union of man’s art and sylvan delight, of youth and animal, human skill and natural beauty, is a friendly one, and trapped within that discoloured marble surface uncovered by Praxiteles.⁠

      The metaphor of sculpture is muddled here. Praxiteles both imprisons and unveils, a combination not present in Hawthorne’s description of Praxiteles’ art.

    6. takes the pure image of a young man

      Wilde here eschews Hawthorne’s apologetics regarding the inadequacy of ekphrasis to capture the “magic peculiarity” of the sculpture. What follows echoes the short commentary of Wilde’s first letter to Tafani.

    7. such experiences have wrought themselves on his face in a subtle fashion

      Hilda echoes here the linkage between thoughts and appearances, of which Wilde was so fond, as mentioned in the notes to his first letter.

    8. New England

      Wilde jabs here, we may deduce, at Hawthorne himself, born in Massachusetts, whose novel Wilde interprets as overly certain and lacking in the romance and mystery of the Old World.

    9. touch

      Touch, rather than measurement, becomes “absolute” in Wilde’s version. It is the senses, rather than objective facts, that hold the final truth of any artefact.

    10. “Cunning a bust-maker as you think yourself, Kenyon,” the tall, dark-eyed young woman of the company said, “you must needs confess that you never freed from marble, nor wrought in clay, a more vivid likeness.

      Wilde again reorders, more than rewrites, Hawthorne’s original. Here, Miriam emphasises Kenyon’s self-image, as well as setting forth a strengthened theory of the mode of sculpture recovering, rather than producing, forms from marble.

    11. a pretty figure of a child contends with the symbols of Evil and Innocence, assaulted by a snake, but clasping a dove to her bosom

      Again, Wilde reorders the symbolism of Hawthorne’s rendition; the snake is here prioritised, and the dove of less importance. The insertion of a paragraph break here draws attention to the symbol of the Soul, inviting the reader to dwell on how it might “complete” the moment that the four friends inhabit.

    12. the Antinous, the Lycian Apollo, the Juno and the Amazon

      Wilde’s rendition of the original opening paragraph here re-orders the sculptures that are available to the viewer, demoting the Amazon to the end of this list.

    13. Chapter 1: Four Friends

      Wilde’s preferred title, for a chapter that blends material from Hawthorne’s “Miriam, Hilda, Kenyon, Donatello” and “The Faun”, helps solidify the affiliation between Donatello and The Faun: both form one of the four friends.

    1. our visits

      Wilde’s letters but rarely refer to the first-person plural, although he was of course travelling with several companions. That he does so here is suggestive that the visits to sites associated with British literary lions may have been at the prompting of one of his companions.

    1. Signore Tafanito

      It is difficult to know quite what to make of this correction by Wilde, or what it signifies regarding their relationship. Their prior correspondence, to which Wilde refers further on, may have shed light on this, but without that additional data, any interpretation would be only speculative.

    1. Kenyon

      The introduction of Kenyon into this scene presents Miriam and Kenyon as the worldly figures of Donatello’s initiation into adulthood, changing the dynamic quite significantly.

    2. preparing a canvas

      Wilde omits Hawthorne’s paean to the “feminine task” of needlework and places Miriam instead within the tradition of artists whose concern with their materials extends to all aspects of the artistic production.

    3. The windows were half-closed with shutters, leaving the far side of the room with a surfeit of light that could not seem to breach an invisible divide along the length of the room.⁠

      Hawthorne presented Miriam’s studio as always in a necessary sort of shadow, “the first requisite towards seeing objects pictorially”. Wilde rejects this description of artistic working conditions in favour of an implicit preference for light except where shadow may produce some particular effect in the expression of a sitter.

    4. that sculptor

      Wilde places Kenyon in Donatello’s place here in this visit to Miriam’s studio. The painting of Donatello’s portrait—with Kenyon present—occupies a latter position in the chapter, but the interposition of Kenyon both of the shifting relationships between the characters in Wilde’s novel and of a long-standing fascination for Wilde in the moment of production of art.

    5. fragments of antique statues, headless and legless torsos, and busts, pieces of marble and granite that have invariably lost one or two or more of their constituent parts

      In this passage, Wilde removes some of Hawthorne’s more hyperbolic descriptions, such as of an Egyptian sarcophagus holding “the rubbish of the courtyard”. In doing so, he blurs the supposedly generic description of an archetypal Roman palazzo with an actual description of Miriam’s home.

    1. The interposition of Hilda between Miriam and Kenyon, and Kenyon between Miriam and Hilda,

      Wilde begins to develop here a different model of relations between Miriam, Hilda and Kenyon. There is something chaismic in the description of the triangular relationships, somehow aligning Miriam and Hilda with “improper Bohemian relations” and Miriam and Kenyon with “fervency of friendship”, when the reverse might be expected. This suggests Wilde thinking through the potential freedoms of creative relationships, and may be seen as prefiguring some of his interest in women’s position in aesthetic circles, such as expressed through his work on The Lady.

    2. drawn to join them

      It is odd that the almost perfect triangulation that Wilde describes in the previous sentence, holding the various friendships in a sort of necessary suspension, must immediately be supplemented by the addition of another.