Thursday, 1 August 2013

Oscar Wilde Salome

Gustave Moreau Salomé 1876

Lowry makes reference to Salome in his novel Ultramarine; "Herod, he looked like, Herod, watching Salome. Among them you will seem like a moon moving in a white cloud, but do not ask for the head of this man. Male Salome. Satsuma wares. Salome wears - what? And they pierced his hands his side his feet, and dey heard dat noise in the Jerusalem street...."  (Pg.116). Lowry's source for the story of Salome is possibly the Oscar Wilde play.

Salome is a tragedy by Oscar Wilde. The original 1891 version of the play was in French. Three years later an English translation was published. The play tells in one act the Biblical story of Salome, stepdaughter of the tetrarch Herod Antipas, who, to her stepfather's dismay but to the delight of her mother Herodias, requests the head of Jokanaan (John the Baptist) on a silver platter as a reward for dancing the dance of the seven veils. Scholars like Christopher Nassaar point out that Wilde employs a number of the images favored by Israel's kingly poets and that the moon is meant to suggest the pagan goddess Cybele, who, like Salomé, was obsessed with preserving her virginity and thus took pleasure in destroying male sexuality. Read more on Wikipedia

Lowry's  reference to the "white moon" may stem from Wilde's episodes within the play - following the prelude three demarcated episodes follow: the meeting between Salome and Iokanaan, the phase of the white moon; the major public central episode, the dance and the beheading, the phase of the red moon; and finally the conclusion, when the black cloud conceals the moon.

For Lowry's reference to a "Male Salome" - see I.S.R. Miles

Lowry also conducts a word-play with Salome and Satsuma wares, a type of pottery which feature elsewhere in Chapter 3. Lowry may use of the phrase "and dey heard dat noise in the Jerusalem street"  may relate to an unidentified spiritual relating to the story of Salome or possibly reference back to the crucifixion of Christ.

No comments:

Post a Comment