Sunday, 16 August 2015

Oscar Wilde

Writers sometimes have fun imagining what a real person would say in a fictional situation. Poul Anderson gives us several historical figures but maybe not any recent or contemporary celebrities? Brian Aldiss fictionally quoted Aldous Huxley in an early novel. William Clinton spoke at Superman's funeral because he was President of the United States in 1993. Earlier, Supes had conversed with Ronald Reagan.

In From Hell, written by Alan Moore and drawn by Eddie Campbell, a character at a party looks exactly like Oscar Wilde and indeed is introduced as such. When asked, "Oscar Wilde, the playwright?," Wilde responds, "Heavens, no! Can't stand the man! I'm Oscar Wilde, the Florist!"

What would Wilde say about SM Stirling's Domination of the Draka? Stirling tells us and we instantly recognize authenticity:

"'How did Oscar Wilde put it, after he settled in the Domination? The rest of the Anglo-Saxon world is convinced that the Draka are brutal, licentious, and depraved; the Draka are convinced that outlanders are prigs, hypocritical prudes, and weaklings, and both parties are right...'"
-SM Stirling, Marching Through Georgia (New York, 1991), p. 71.

As Puck said when watching Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream in Neil Gaiman's The Sandman: A Midsummer Night's Dream:

"It never happened; yet it is still true. What magic art is this?"
-Neil Gaiman, The Sandman: Dream Country (New York, 1995), p. 75.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    I've read Stirling's MARCHING THROUGH GEORGIA at least and I've forgotten the bit about Oscar Wilde and the aphorism he ficntionally said. Frankly, I'm surprised he would settle in the Domination of the Draka, even if it was still, technically, a nominal part of the British Empire at the time. Wilde would seem, in many ways, the kind of man the Draka would heartily despise: bisexual with homosexual tastes, an aesthete, a fop, and in his more serious moments Wilde seems to have evinced a longing for God which led to his deathbed conversion to the Catholic Church.

    But, I will look up what MARCHING says about Wilde!


    1. Drat! I meant to say I've read MARCHING THROUGH GEORGIA at least twice in the first sentence of my previous note, but I omitted it!


    2. Kaor Paul!

      You mentioned how Poul Anderson gave us several examples of what actual historical persons might have said fictionally. I immediately thought of his shrewd, sympathetic, and historically accurate depiction of Cardinal Richelieu in the chapter found in THE BOAT OF A MILLION YEARS called "The Kitten and the Cardinal."


    3. Hmmm, I wonder if Eric Flint or David Weber was referencing that chapter when their book *1633* included a scene of Richelieu with a kitten.

    4. Hi, David!

      Alas, I've read only two of the "Ring of Fire" books: 1632, and THE GALILEO AFFAIR. The first book rather turned me off from the series because of how I detected an unpleasant strain of anti Catholicism running thru the book. but GALILEO more than made up for that and wiped out the bad taste left by the first book.

      I do recall, either from 1632 or GALILEO that a more negative view was taken of Cardinal Richelieu than Poul Anderson believed was true. I've not read 1633 so I have not seen the possible reference to Anderson in that book.


    5. Sean, the series in general portrays Richelieu as an enlightened and pleasant man FOR HIS TIME -- but it needs to also be remembered that he's effectively governing a nation which he intends to make the greatest on Earth ... so he's ruthless when he feels he needs to be, for the benefit of France.

      Eric Flint said he could easily have written Richelieu as becoming an ally of the people from the future -- but he needed a SMART adversary, or things would be too easy for them.

      The immediate follow-ons to *Galileo Affair* are *The Cannon Law* and *The Papal Stakes*. They show Pope Urban as a very classy and devout man, trying to work out what's the best and most righteous action for the Church to take. Alas, there ARE characters like Cardinal Borja....

    6. Hi, David!

      Thanks for your comments. Yes, I agree that a leader sometimes HAS to be hard, even ruthless, if he's to be effective in governing hs country. And it was interesting how Eric Flint said he wanted his time stranded Americans to have a SMART enemy because that would make for more interesting stories.

      It had been France's fear and dread since at least Francis I's time that SOMEONE would finally firmly unify the German states. A united Germany would have IMMEDIATELY become a powerful rival of France. And the Grantville Americans, appearing as they had in the Franconian region of the Holy Roman Empire, were becoming a nucleus around which a united Germany might arise.

      What you said about Pope Urban had been noticed by me in THE GALILEO AFFAIR. And THE BAVARIAN CRISIS also interests me. So, I'm not ENTIRELY "turned off" from the "Ring of Fire" series.