By James Campbell
This ebook reads Oscar Wilde as a queer theorist and Wilfred Owen as his symbolic son. It facilities at the thought of 'male procreation', or the new release of recent rules via an erotic yet non-physical connection among males, and it sees Owen as either a product and a continuation of this Wildean culture.
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Extra info for Oscar Wilde, Wilfred Owen, and Male Desire: Begotten, Not Made
Lurking beneath the recorded text of Western culture there hides a homoerotic genealogy, an occult version of the patrilineal lists sprinkled throughout the Pentateuch. Only in this case, rather than the sons of Noah begetting the races of the world (Genesis 10), the sons of Plato (or perhaps Socrates, who sired Plato’s dialogues) beget new generations of ideas. Of course, the entire story is constructed to illustrate this procreative concept. While Willie Hughes sires the sonnets on Shakespeare, Shakespeare in turn (and in a reversal of implied gender roles) begets the Willie Hughes theory on Cyril Graham.
Though Wilde clearly is reading Symonds as though both have been initiated into the mysteries and thus understand the code, at a fundamental level, Symonds’s construction of Greek love is opposed to that implied by Wilde in ‘Mr W. ’ and other texts. For Symonds, effeminacy is a betrayal of true Greek homoeroticism. 27 Symonds sets up a struggle within classical Greek sexuality in which the essence of Dorian manliness constantly wars against ‘Oriental’ pleasure seeking and effeminacy. For Wilde, of course, effeminacy is indispensable, and I think it is not too anachronistic to claim that, despite his working outside the medical discourse of sexology, Wilde’s theory of homoerotic procreation implies a version of what the sexologically informed Carpenter presented as inversion.
When the narrator arrives, however, he learns that Erskine had known he was dying of consumption and attempted to forge his own death into martyrdom for the cause. This plot sketch applies equally to the Blackwood’s and the posthumous version; Wilde’s additions to the text do little to expand its storyline. Almost all of them concern the narrator’s ruminations and expansions on Cyril Graham’s basic ideas. Most of these, in turn, focus on the intellectual justification of male homoeroticism in terms of neoplatonism.