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DRAMA: Modernism to Post-Modernism

Intertextuality

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The Salome theme, or just "Salome," as the narrative has come to be named by gestures motivated by more than mere efforts at shorthand, is said to originate in the Gospels and then reemerge in the nineteenth century, appropriated by European Decadence as a representative myth of eroticism, taboo, and transgression.

Intertextuality means that texts exist in cultural and aesthetic contexts alongside other texts. They influence one another and often refer to one another overtly, this being a particular characteristic of postmodernist writing. In fact, all language is itself intertextual , since language always pre-exists the speaker : words and meanings are always second-hand in some sense.

In Christian mythology, Salome was the daughter of Herodias and stepdaughter of Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee in Palestine. Her infamy comes from causing St. John the Baptist's execution. The saint had condemned the marriage of Herodias and Herod Antipas, as Herodias was the divorced wife of Antipas's half brother Philip. Incensed, Herod imprisoned John, but feared to have the well-known prophet killed. Herodias, however, was not mollified by John's incarceration and pressed her daughter Salome to "seduce" her stepfather Herod with a dance, making him promise to give her whatever she wished. At her mother's behest, Salome thus asked for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Unwillingly, Herod did her bidding, and Salome brought the platter to her mother. However, Oscar Wilde's verson of Salome was not based on the biblical version.

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WILDE'S SALOME

Wilde wrote Salome in French in 1891, but the play was not produced for five years. In 1892, rehearsals for the play's first planned production began, but they were stopped when the licenser of plays for the Lord Chamberlain, the British government official in charge of theater censorship, banned Salome, ostensibly because of an old law forbidding the depiction of Biblical characters onstage but probably also because of the play's focus on sexual passion. Wilde was so upset by Salome's censorship that he threatened to leave England and live in France, where he would be granted more artistic freedom.

Wilde's version of Salome depicts her as a seductress of her stepfather and a murderer of a saint, thereby becoming a symbol of the erotic and dangerous woman, the femme fatale.

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Jessica Lane,
Modern Drama B Assignment
jesslane85@hotmail.com