Saturday, February 16, 2008

Oscar Wilde to John Ruskin

I am currently transcribing the text of a chapter by Walter T Spencer in his book Forty Years in My Bookshop, on his experience of the 1890s, of Wilde, Beardsley, Smithers and the gang. Spencer spends a lot of time 'mentioning' books in his possession which I imagine, for those reading him at the time was rather annoying, but which now offer some helpful bibliographical insights. There is a very sweet letter from Wilde to John Ruskin which Spencer quotes. The letter was inside a copy of Wilde's The Happy Prince which Spencer had in his possession. I am no Wilde scholar and have no idea if the letter remains extant but, as an example of sheer charm and eloquence:

“The dearest memories of my Oxford days are my walks and talks with you, and from you I learned nothing but what was good. How else could it be? There is in you something of prophet, of priest, and of poet, and to you the gods gave eloquence such as they have given to none other, so that your message might come to us with the fire of passion, and the marvel of music - making the deaf to hear and the blind to see.”

1 comment:

spycoops said...

The letter is extant, and resides in the Henry W. and Albert B. Berg Collection held at the New York Public Library.

This snippet cited is in a letter Wilde wrote when sending his book "The Happy Prince and Other Tales" to Ruskin in June 1888.

q.v. Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde (Holland & Hart-Davis)

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