Nina Antonia’s new book – ‘Dancing With Salomé – Courting the Uncanny with Oscar Wilde & Friends’
A decadent treat comprising a portmanteau of essays exploring the uncanny in the life of Oscar Wilde and his circle. Growing up in the glory days of Amicus & Hammer Films left me with a yearning to utilise the word ‘portmanteau’ in at least one project. Make no mistake there is an aspect of horror inherent in ‘Dancing with Salome’ though it is of the strange and glittering kind which artist Eli John has captured so elegantly in his cover artwork, featuring Wilde’s love interest, Lord Alfred Douglas, morphing into Dorian Gray.
Each of the essays were initially housed by independently produced publications including ‘Wormwood’ ‘Fiddler’s Green’ ‘Egaeus Press’ and ‘Fenris Wolf’. There is more creative freedom outside of mainstream media and none more so than in the field of supernatural literature. When commercial publishers recall the phantasmagorical (another favourite word) they go no further than reprinting the tried and tested, Dickens, M.R James and if you are exceedingly lucky, Arthur Machen. The supernatural is regarded as a tricky field, the unseen at odds with an era pledged to ‘reality’. As Oscar Wilde once opined ‘Leave us with some unreality!’ The 1890’s was the decade of Peacocks and Sphinx’s, the forerunner to the ‘Swinging Sixties’ only infinitely more enticing and well mannered. It seems no accident that just at the point of Wilde’s imminent success with ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ that the Golden Dawn, the most significant esoteric lodge in England’s history, should also bloom. The initiated included Wilde’s wife, Constance, W.B Yeats, Aleister Crowley and Arthur Machen, all of whom would play a part, either directly or indirectly in the drama of Oscar Wilde’s enchanted and accursed life.