From Salomé to Kinky Sex

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Gustave Moreau: Salomé Dancing Before Herod, 1876
Gustave Moreau: Salomé Dancing Before Herod, 1876

In this video, frequent GLR contributor Richard M. Berrong  discusses the catalog of a recent art exhibit centered around a single painting, Gustave Moreau’s  Salomé Dancing Before Herod. Joris-Karl Huysmans re-interpreted it as a work of kinky eroticism in his classic French decadent novel, Against Nature. Oscar Wilde then introduced that novel to England in The Picture of Dorian Gray as a work containing “the sins of the world,” and in his French play Salomé, written for Sarah Bernhardt. Wilde added now familiar elements: Salomé’s demand for John the Baptist’s head on a silver platter, her kissing his cold lips when it arrives, Herod’s order that she be crushed to death.  The tale of Salomé was launched as a literary archetype of kinky sex and sadomasochism..

 

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