Mephitic Odours & Perverted Telegraph Boys

Further to the critical responses to Ulysses and Infelicia, here are extracts from four contemporary reviews of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture Of Dorian Gray:

“If Mr Wilde can write for none but outlawed noblemen and perverted telegraph boys, the sooner he takes to tailoring (or some other decent trade) the better for his own reputation and the public’s morals.” – The Scots Observer

“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

“The book is unmanly, sickening, vicious and tedious.” – The Athenaeum

“I would rather give my daughter a dose of prussic acid than allow her to read this book.” – ‘Paterfamilias’ in Uplift

ADDENDUM : Apropos Oscar Wilde, here is Gertrude Atherton explaining why, having seen his photograph, she declined an invitation to meet him : “His mouth covered half his face, the most lascivious, coarse, repulsive mouth I had ever seen. I might stand it in a large crowded drawing-room, but not in a parlour, eight by eight, lit by three tallow candles. I should feel as if I were under the sea, pursued by some bloated monster of the deep.”

5 thoughts on “Mephitic Odours & Perverted Telegraph Boys

  1. The real problem is that every time Stephen Fry reads Oscar Wildes name he thinks of Stephen Fry too.

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