The moustache is the evolutionary next level to enlightenment.
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Today I’m proud to announce the sponsorship of Oregon Wild Hair Moustache Wax, the world’s most literary moustache wax, produced in small, handmade batches in Oregon. Though the popularly attributed Wilde quote above is perhaps apocryphal, we do believe that with this sponsorship Molossus has achieved its next evolutionary level. The broadside fully endorses the full OWHMW line of products, currently used by multiple editors on a daily basis. In the future readers can look forward to specific OWHMW-sponsored interviews and features. The history of literature is incomplete without inclusion of its mustachioed creators, from Proust to Twain, and Molossus thanks Oregon Wild Hair Moustache Wax for their support of world literature. Please do visit the OWHMW website, linked on our Sponsorship bar on the right side of Molossus, where you can learn more about the wax itself, undoubtedly the world’s most literary.
Oscar Wilde in America: The Interviews, ed. Matthew Hofer & Gary Scharnhorst. (U Illinois P) $40
Today also sees the release of a collection containing forty-eight of the ninety-one interviews Oscar Wilde gave during his first visit to America, to give a touring lecture on Aestheticism. At age twenty-six he had published only one slender volume of poems, and his reputation was more that of a contemporary rock star than a real writer, his allure to the American public unquestionable. The book is well introduced and though academic in nature it is accessible—even engaging—to the non-scholar. The interviews themselves paint a fascinating portrait not just of Wilde but of the reading public as well: one wonders if the trendiness and hot-author patterns of MFA America are anything more than a continuation of the very American tendency to sensationalize literature. In his very first interview, from the New York World, conducted while Wilde’s steamship was still in quarantine on Staten Island, he is described with great detail paid to his physical appearance:
Mr. Wilde is fully six feet three inches in height, straight as an arrow, and with broad shoulders and long arms, indicating considerable strength. His outer garment was a long ulster trimmed with two kinds of fur, which reached almost to his feet. He wore patent-leather shoes, a smoking-cap or turban, and his shirt might be termed ultra-Byronic, or perhaps—décoletté. A sky-blue cravat of the sailor style hung well down upon his chest. His hair flowed over his shoulders in dark-brown wave, curling slightly upwards at the ends. His eyes were of a deep blue, but without that faraway expression that is popularly attributed to poets. In fact they seemed rather everyday and commonplace eyes. His teeth were large and regular, disproving a pleasing story which has gone the rounds of the English press that he has three tusks or protuberants far from agreeable to look at. He is beardless, and his complexion is nearly colorless. In manner, Mr. Wilde was easy and unconstrained, and his attitude as he conversed with the reporters and others was very graceful. A peculiarity of Mr. Wilde’s face is the exaggerated oval of the Italian face carried into the English type of countenance and tipped with a long sharp chin. It does not, however, impress one as being a strong face. His manner of talking is somewhat affected—judging from an American standpoint—his great peculiarity being a rhythmic chant in which every fourth syllable is accentuated.
Wilde’s own explanations of aestheticism are as interesting as the papers’ accounts of his presence; many of his insights into American culture still ring true. The volume is well edited by Hofer and Scharnhorst, and includes a healthy selection of interviews from smaller newspapers in towns Wilde visited along the railroad. Oscar Wilde in America is February’s first unexpected delight.