The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: West, Benjamin
Record 4 of 4

System Number: 07058
Date: [24/28 February 1885?][1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: Oscar Wilde[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W1047
Document Type: ALS

I do know a bird, Oscar, who, with his head in the sand, like yourself, O naif enfant[3]! still believes in the undiscovered -

He shall henceforth become your device, in lieu of the Sunflower -

For one whose greatness depends upon his remaining misunderstood, it was indeed rash to reveal the source of his inspiration - the Bigraphical [sic] dictionary!

[butterfly signature]

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [24/28 February 1885?]
This is a reply to a letter from O. Wilde to JW, c. 24 February 1885 (#07057), shortly after JW's 'Ten o'clock Lecture', which was delivered in Princes Hall, London, on 20 February 1885. A version of the text of the lecture may be found at #06791.

2.  Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wilde
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wilde (1854-1900), writer, critic and playwright [more]. This letter relates to JW's response to Wilde's review of the 'Ten O'Clock Lecture' and Wilde's reply (#11405 and #07057 respectively). JW had mocked Wilde's choice of the artists Benjamin West and Paul Delaroche as artistic comparisons with the writers Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Baudelaire. Of West and Delaroche, Wilde wrote in reply: 'As of their works nothing at all remains, I conclude that they explained themselves away. Be warned in time, James; and remain, as I do, incomprehensible. To be great is to be misunderstood.' The letter was later published in Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, London and New York, 1890, in the form of a marginal 'Reflection' alongside Wilde's letter (#07057). Unlike #07057 and #11405, it was never published in the World.

3.  naif enfant
Fr., naive child.