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Oscar Wilde In America

a selected resource of oscar wilde's visits to america

—Something To Live Up To—

BootsNast

Cartoon by Thomas Nast, Harper's Bazar, June 10, 1882, p.316
TITLE: Wilde on US. Something to "Live Up" To in America.

Source Archive: Denver Public Library Digital Collections (Western History)

COMMENTARY

While he was in college at Oxford, Oscar Wilde said he found it difficult to live up to his blue china. Any self-effacement in the remark was lost on an English Victorian press who seized upon it to parody Wilde for being effete and over-delicate. Cartoons appeared that showed Wildean figures doting on their porcelain and art work.

By contrast in America, the perception was that Wilde's mission was to civilize a more rugged population, particularly in the West. Thus, the symbols that Nast chose for Wilde to 'live up to' were the miners' hats and boots that Wilde had admired as being noble, sensible and practical. Nast depicts Wilde is in his familiar lecturing garb surrounded by lilies and sunflowers and, of course, with money bulging from his pockets.

The small word below the sketched houses at the top reads LEADVILLE, which is the city in Colorado where Wilde lectured among silver miners on April 13, 1882.

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Cowboys and Indians

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