Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist
poliphilo

Longhaired 19th Century Types

1. My hair is now shoulder length- and a little bit more- and if I didn't wash it regularly (which is a bore) I would look like one of Susanna Clarke's working-class magicians- Vinculus or Childermass. I am currently re-reading Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell- which is why the comparison occurs to me. It is such a good book!

2. Talking about long-haired 19th century types, I've never rated Oscar Wilde very highly as a writer or liked him much as a person but I've always found him interesting. I was thinking about this yesterday- wondering why I'll read anything about him that comes my way, though not (perish the thought) the man's own books- and came to the conclusion it's because he's such a riddle. G.K Chesterton, who disliked Wilde more than I do but couldn't stop talking about him, propounded what I think is the best answer to the riddle. Wilde, he said- in so many words- was a charlatan, a faker, a poseur- but above all else- and it was the truest thing about him- an Irish swashbuckler. It was in his nature to oppose, provoke, annoy, cut a dash, do dangerous things. I think that's as true as any simplification can ever be- and it's why I didn't buy Stephen Fry's version of him. Fry's Wilde was too passive- a man to whom things were done rather than a man who made things happen; he just wasn't piratical enough.
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