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Vicki Richman <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 12 Jul 1994 11:29:28 -0400
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Was that before or after Wilde's trial and imprisonment? We
know that Mark Twain was a sexual libertarian, but we wonder
whether he extended his tolerance to homoerotic union.

Emerson and Thoreau, both sexually prudish, also defended
Whitman against the preponderance of contemporary judgment.

Unlike Whitman, Wilde was not necessarily connected to
homosexuality, until the accusation by the marquess of
Queensberry. Wilde stunned all by refusing to deny the
charge. Instead, in a memorable oration recalling his
brilliance as a classical scholar, he told the court that
his sexuality is not its business; whether he is or is not,
he pled, homosexuals deserve the same legal protection that
other British subjects enjoy.

Wilde's use of irony in defense of liberty, if not his
classical allusions, recalls Twain's later work. Was one
inspired by the other?

>   Oscar Wilde is mentioned by Clara Clemens in her book,
>   MY FATHER MARK TWAIN, page 113.

As you say, that meeting occurred in 1892, three years
before Queensberry. Wilde was quite controversial then, but
for disdaining bourgeois morality, not necessarily for
homosexuality. Twain shared Wilde's disdain, but their
styles were quite different: the latter was an entertainer
patronized by effete aristocrats; the other, by Yankee

Vicki Richman
Bedford, Brooklyn NY