Saturday, March 30, 2024

a Wilde arrow

Other people probably already know this, but TIL John Ruskin taught Oscar Wilde at Oxford. In my head, they're very unlike each other: Ruskin a socialist political economist, and Wilde a socialite playwright--but ultimately, I guess, they're both social reformists. (It's a pity how much the whole homophobic case against Wilde weighs on my internal summary of his history.)

I looked Wilde up because of the beautiful lines "And flashing down the river, a flame of blue!/ The kingfisher flies like an arrow, and wounds the air." in his poem "Magdalen Walks." It made me want to check if Wilde had attended Magdalen College. (One of the first and lasting things I learned at Oxford was that you're supposed to pronounce it "Maudlin.") He had. He'd had three years in Trinity College, Dublin, and then another four years at Magdalen--which makes this the longest undergraduate journey I know. 

It kind of connected with my own day... EM joined us for dinner and one of the things we talked about was how we each got interested in Greek mythology. Someone EM knows got into it because its pansexual worldview was different from their own social environment, EM herself got into it because the women in it can be powerful, and I got into it because at some point I followed some childhood book about comparative mythologies and became enamored of Greek culture. Wilde read classics at Oxford--so that's how I'm going to close this loop.

Pic: Redbud beside the Red Cedar from a walk yesterday. Today was grey and rainy all day. (I didn't see a kingfisher, but I will think of them "wounding the air" the next time I do.)


Nance said...

Have you seen the film "Wilde" ca 1997, starring Stephen Frye as Oscar Wilde? Beautifully filmed, and Frye is, of course, terrific as Wilde. Jude Law is at his most lovely in the role of Wilde's paramour, Lord Alfred Douglas.

It's also a very heart-wrenching film, as you can imagine. Oscar Wilde was an incredible person and such a gifted writer.

Gillian said...


Nicole said...

I know very little about Wilde so TIL something!
Greek mythology is so interesting and fun; I remember M getting REALLY into it when he was around grade 5, and it reminded me of how I was into it at that age. Do you read Agapi Stassinopolis? She wrote Wake Up To The Joy In You but she also has a book about the goddesses, which I haven't read but have been meaning to.

StephLove said...

TIL what TIL stands for.

maya said...

Nance--That sounds like a must-see. Putting it on a list now.

Nicole--Ditto the Stassinopolis--it's going on a list.

Steph-- :). I spend too much time on the internet, probably.

NGS said...

Is it fair to say I don't even know who John Ruskin is? I just googled him and I'm not sure how he would have come on my radar. Anyway, TIL who John Ruskin was.

maya said...

Engie--Your comment made me read more about Ruskin... I wish I hadn't! (See today's post.)

last day/first day

And that's a wrap on classes until August. There are exams and meetings next week and task forces that will meet through the summer and ...