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The first item on the Better World Books 2016 Reading Challenge is to read […]
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Unique among his works, Oscar Wilde's play"Salom " (1893) was written originally in French.Joseph Donohue's new translation of the horrific New Testament story has recastWilde's shockingly radical drama in the natural idiomatic language of our own day.Presenting a colloquial and spare American English version of Wilde's consciouslystylized French, Donohue's approach gives full value to the Irish author's darkruminations on evil and perversity in a world on the brink of a new, unsettlingChristian dispensation.
The play was first translated into Englishin 1894 by Wilde's young friend Lord Alfred Douglas, but Wilde was far from pleasedwith the outcome. And yet Douglas's stilted, inaccurate version has somehow retaineda longstanding place on the stage and in the study. Donohue's lucid vernaculartransformation of Douglas's safe, thee-and-thou faux-biblical language has thequality of a startling modern-dress remounting of an overly familiar classic play.This new "Salom " is calculated to bring bothreaders and playgoers into close, disturbing confrontation with one of the mosterotic and bloodiest sequences of testamentary lore.
Brilliantlycomplementing Donohue's unprecedented approach is a set of engravings by a masterillustrator of our time. Barry Moser is an artist who speaks the blunt yet fluentlanguage of present-day communication through the penetrating gestural vocabulary ofthe graphic arts. The resulting combination of words and images directly engageswith Wilde's characters and their story, setting a bold new standard for the meldingof literary and pictorial excellence. At the same time, it leads readers andaudiences alike to rediscover perennially significant themes--of love, death, power, and individuality.
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