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The Faun of Rome: A Romance

by Oscar Wilde, edited by Nate Maturin

Nate Maturin, Author

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Letter 5: Wilde to Tafani, 27 April 1877

27 April, 1877

Hotel d’Inghilterra

I am overwhelmed by my experience. I could not have dreamedt, when stepping upon the train to London, that I might be graced with an audience with His Most Holiness, the Pope. Blair has organised it all, and with great effect! The moment was so touching, so poignant, that I am not sure whether I will ever be able to describe it <fully>. You know yourself of what I speak.

I have spent many hours in that most Holy of parts of Rome, and enjoyed the Vatican Museum greatly. There is a profound pleasure in walking amongst the surviving Greek statuary that now makes it home in that place. I must lament again the lack of your company in Italy, but I shall soon have the pleasure of it again at College. I know that I have missed a few weeks or so of term now, but I am sure you will agree that it has been to the eternal benefit of my soul and of my art.

The project continues apace, despite your gentle and dear disapproval. I shan’t cease to talk of it, either, I’m afraid. That seemed a petty request, Tafanito, and I shan’t allow it to crush my enthusiasm for so delicious a project. As I begin to take liberties with Nathaniel’s story, so it begins to speak to me more and more. I have long had my suspicions that Hawthorne’s novel lacked in true depth or sympathy because it was populated by a too-high proportion of New-Englanders in its pivotal roles, namely Kenyon and Hilda (Her name bears an ancient Germanic origin, but still seems to me like one of our century’s inventions; I should have changed it, had I been more bold at the beginning.) Hilda, of course, is of a type, and they have their authors now as they did in the previous generation. Kenyon, however, seems to me to be a neuter forebear of Roderick Hudson, and what purpose can he possibly serve thus? Far better had he been an Irishman—or an Englishman, I suppose—with a keen sense of fairness but also a strong sense of his own personality. The Kenyon who moons over young Hilda and her doves seems to me to be mere phantasy! I should be <far more> convinced by a relationship of such vigour with the dark-eyed Miriam, thwarted by the emergence of her past, leaving Hilda and the Faun himself perhaps free to share in each other’s simplicity. The stain of Donatello’s crime infecting Hilda seems to me to be far more appropriate than the sorority between Hilda and Miriam. But perhaps I do not yet have sufficient understanding of such ‘ships. I know very well that you will say that for the sake of the story’s shape Kenyon must adore Hilda, but it is precisely to this ‘must’ that I object! Whom one ‘must’ adore is very often the last person for whom one can conjure such feeling! {Must? For Hawthorne’s shape, surely, but not so for Oscar’s!}

Yours ever,


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