Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Day Manly-Man Walt Whitman Met Cowboy Oscar Wilde

So here's the thing about Oscar Wilde's tour of the American West... wait, you know about that, right?  There's a great murder mystery about it by Walter Satterthwait called Wilde West, and Jonah Hex met up with him in the Joe Lansdale / Tim Truman Riders of the Worm and Such miniseries (famous for having published the only letter I ever wrote to a comics company).  In 1882 Wilde came to American on what was to be a brief literary tour, but ended up staying for nearly a year.  People loved him, or loved to mock him, or both.  Wilde drank tea with the literary societies and slung back whiskey with miners in saloons.  In 1882 Oscar Wilde was the coolest thing to hit the West.  I'm guessing he got a lot of tail.  Speaking of which...

Oscar Wilde lampooned in a San Francisco magazine
So here's the thing about Oscar Wilde's tour of the American West... he met Walt Whitman, the manliest of men who ever loved manly men.  When they met, the local press interviewed Whitman, and here is what he said: "One of the first things I said was that I should call him ‘Oscar.’ ‘I like that so much,’ he answered, laying his hand on my knee. He seemed to me like a great big, splendid boy. He is so frank, and outspoken, and manly."

"That's right, I got me a piece of Wilde action."
Damn, that's some manly stuff right there. A blog called The Toast wrote about this in exquisite detail.  All that I am going to do here is quote from an article describing the meeting of two 19th century literary giants and let you wander on to read the actual post yourself.

This is a gift. You do realize that, don’t you? History has reached out to you specifically and given you a gift. The gift is the knowledge that Oscar Wilde once put his hand on Walt Whitman’s knee and then they drank elderberry wine together; the gift is that the next day a reporter turned up and Whitman expounded at length on his big, splendid boy.

Happy trails, pard!

Hex & Wilde, Cowboy Style

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