Which is the Most Authoritative Early Translation of Wilde's "Salomé"?
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Oscar Wilde originally wrote and published his now famous and highly regarded play "Salomé" in French (Paris and London, 1893). A very inaccurate translation of it into English, by Lord Alfred Douglas, led to much wrangling between Douglas and Wilde, who was profoundly disappointed with Douglas's work. So far, it has been assumed that this translation, which appeared while Wilde was still alive (he died in 1900), must despite all its faults be regarded as in essence 'the' English translation. What has not been realised, however, is that Robert Ross, Wilde's literary executor, ensured that, a few years later, a more accurate translation of "Salomé" was published in a small volume called "Salome: A Tragedy in One Act Translated from the French of Oscar Wilde" (London and New York, 1906), and one much better again under the title "Salome: A Tragedy in One Act Translated from the French of Oscar Wilde with Sixteen Drawings by Aubrey Beardsley" (London and New York, 1912). The 1912 text provides by far the best translation of Wilde's French; it should be regarded as the most authoritative translation of Salomé available.