To celebrate Joseph Donohue’s new translation of Oscar Wilde’s Salomé the Press recently collaborated with the university’s drama department on a staged reading of the one-act play. You can watch a clip from the performance here.
Although an English speaker and writer, Wilde composed his play in French. Donohue sought to correct earlier translations written in a deliberately archaic idiom of traditional biblical language: his translation offers a fresh and briskly contemporary approach to Wilde’s play by drawing on the more spare and colloquial English of current American speakers. (Marrapodi provides an excellent example of the different translations in his blog post.) Donohue also addresses Wilde’s impressive fluency with the classical world. People who know the playwright mainly as a coiner of clever phrases will be surprised to learn that, at Oxford, Wilde was “a superb classical scholar.”
In case you’re wondering, the portrait above of Salomé and John the Baptist is by renowned illustrator Barry Moser. Moser created 23 engravings for the new edition, which is available now in hardcover and as a signed limited edition.