Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Merlin Holland, in the shadow of Oscar Wilde – The Point

This is a tiny piece of cardboard that has changed several lives : the business card that triggered the trial and downfall of Oscar Wilde. Treaty by writing “sodomite” by the marquis of Queensberry, he took the catastrophic decision to replicate in justice, setting in motion a vicious circle that will take him to prison for homosexuality. This card is presented in the exhibition at the Petit Palais devoted to the writer. Thanks to his grandson, Merlin Holland, who is the technical advisor, and one of the best connoisseurs of the work of his flamboyant father. Left to become a detective. “When I asked myself where this card could be, I understood that it could have been preserved in the archives of the british courts, since it had been used as a piece of evidence. This is where I found it. “

OUR REPORT on the exhibition dedicated to Oscar Wilde at the Petit Palais

If it has something of the countenance of his grandfather, Merlin Holland has not inherited his name. After the sentencing of Wilde to hard labour, Constance, his wife, foreign exchange one of his two children, Vyvyan (1886-1967, the father of Merlin) and Cyril (born in 1885 and who will die during the Great War). She hopes to protect them from scandal. Constance and Wilde go out respectively in 1898 and 1899, leaving two children orphaned, and at the expense of the family of Wilde. “When Wilde went on the grave of his wife, he was shocked to see that his name was not contained therein. One of the tragedies in this story is that they were never reviewed, even if they are written, ” says Merlin. Letters probably destroyed by the husband’s family. “My father was only eight years old when Oscar died,” he says again. We never discussed. What would we have talked about, it was so little known… It was present in the atmosphere, but hidden. “Vyvyan never did deny, however, nothing, since he began to publish letters from his father.

Living in the shadow of a character like him is not easy. But I told myself that, if I contribuais to make it better known, I would have done something worthwhile in existence

Merlin, himself, has chosen to break the silence. “Living in the shadow of a character like him is not easy. But I told myself that, if I contribuais to make it better known, I would have accomplished something worthwhile in life. “He has devoted several books and has published his correspondence, increased from several hundred letters. “Until the 1970s, it did not read its trials in England. We don’t see him as an author seriously. He read with too much ease and pleasure to be a great writer… ” he smiles. His letters are changing the perspective, that some of the articles, that Merlin also appears from the shadow. “Too often we forget that it was a progressive in many areas. He wrote regularly in a journal called the Woman’s World to defend the independence of women. These beliefs, he has without doubt inherited from her mother, a pioneer of feminism. “

The francophilie would it be hereditary ? Merlin, who lives in Burgundy, like the Hexagon as well as his grand-father. The exhibition highlights the special relationship of Wilde to France. He frequents near the artists : we discovered a canvas (The Dance moorish), where Toulouse-Lautrec represents a Salomé dedicated to Gustave Moreau or letters to Mallarmé. It is also in France that Wilde, ruined, found refuge after the prison. Merlin has a tenderness all the more special for these two letters, which Wilde calls for money to his loyal friend Robert Ross. In the first, he tells the convoluted history of an innkeeper of Nogent claiming a payment for him to make his luggage. If the response from Ross is lost, the second missive of Oscar Wilde begins with his words : “I had completely forgotten that I had already used the pretext of Nogent. This is making me sad and shows me the total collapse of my mind. “And Merlin to confess :” How can you not love a man like that, able to laugh at himself-even in the worst situation ? “

” Oscar Wilde, the impertinent absolute “, a Small Palace, from 28 September to 15 January. Curator : Dominique Morel.


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