QOTD (2011-01-03)

From H. Montgomery Hyde, The Trials of Oscar Wilde, 1948:

The Problem of Wilde’s Inversion

Wilde must necessarily be considered from the view point of his pathological case history…. Havelock Ellis has expressed the opinion that homosexual germs were latent in Wilde’s constitution from the first, although, as we know, they did not become active until he was in his early thirties. Certain it is that Wilde betrayed no signs of abnormality in adolescence and early manhood. On the contrary, his inclinations seemed to have been decidedly heterosexual. While an undergraduate at Oxford he contracted syphilis as the result of a casual connexion, probably with a prostitute…. Nor, it may be added, was there the slightest suggestion of effeminacy about him, either at Oxford or at any subsequent period. If somewhat ungainly in movement, he was endowed with an abundant measure of manly strength….

The precise mode in which Wilde’s peculiar inverted instincts found satisfaction is of interest from the medico-legal standpoint His conduct with the various youths whom he met or who were procured for him usually began with close physical contact and fondling. He would pretend, for instance, in the case of Charles Parker, that the youth was a woman and that he was her lover. This would be accompanied by some form of mutual masturbation and intercrural intercourse. Finally fellatio would be practised with Wilde as the active agent, though this role was occasionally reversed. [Hyde gives no citation for this set of statements.] There was no question of actual pedicatio being perpetrated. It was suggested by only one of the witnesses who gave evidence at his trial that Wilde committed sodomy. Nor indeed was he ever charged at any time with this offence….

[I]t would appear that the world has still a long distance to go before it can be said to have arrived at a complete and satisfactory understanding of the problem posed by Wilde’s sexual inversion. But to-day at least it is unusual to hear it referred to as “vice,” although it still remains a crime under English statute.

I recommend this book for even more retro discussion of the “scandal” of “inversion.” Highly entertaining. As you can see, I’m being just so attentive to my schoolwork….

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