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Salome

Oscar Wilde


Salome, by Oscar Wilde - click to see full size image

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Description

Salome is a play written by Oscar Wilde. Originally written in French, it was first performed in 1896 in Paris. Wilde had given the play to actress Sarah Bernhardt who wanted to run the production of it, but at that time in the UK, all plays had to be approved and English censors didn't allow Biblical characters to be depicted on stage. It wasn't performed in Britain until 1931, although there was a private performance in 1905 in London.

It tells the story of Salome's attempt at seducing Jokanaan (John the Baptist), her dance of the seven veils before Herod, Jokanaan's execution, and the death of Salome as ordered by Herod.

After becoming obsessed with the imprisoned Jokanaan, she tries to seduce him, but fails when he discovers she is the daughter of Herodias (the wife of Herod), and the step-daughter of Herod. The reason he is in prison in the first place is because he insulted Herodias.

After Herod asks Salome to dance for him, she does so only when he promises her anything she wants in return. After dancing the dance of the seven veils, she asks for the head of Jokanaan on a silver platter. At first, Herod refuses but then relents, and Jokanaan is executed.

Salome, upon seeing the head, begins talking to it, and kisses the lips of the dead man. Herod, horrified by this, then orders his guards to kill her.

Whilst the play was praised on the Continent, in Britain, it was either ignored or disparaged, with the official who banned it stating, "The piece is written in French – half Biblical, half pornographic – by Oscar Wilde himself. Imagine the average British public's reception of it."

Since it was written, it has been adapted and performed many times.

This book has 26 pages in the PDF version, and was originally written in 1891.

Production notes: This edition of Salome was published by Global Grey ebooks on the 28th June 2021. The artwork used for the cover is 'Salome with the Head of John the Baptist' by Jan Adam Kruseman.

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