New Lecture Series Celebrates Legacy of Oscar Wilde

Posted on: 02 December 2013

A personal tribute to the legacy of Oscar Wilde by noted antiquarian book and manuscript dealer Julia Rosenthal was the first in a new series of annual lectures organised by the Oscar Wilde Centre in the School of English, Trinity College Dublin. The series will take varied and challenging perspectives on Wilde’s literary, theatrical, cultural and intellectual legacy in the 21st century.

Why Wilde? From Oxford to Trinity: Collecting and Recollecting was delivered on Wednesday, November 27th in Trinity Long Room Hub by Julia Rosenthal. Miss Rosenthal is a fifth generation antiquarian book and manuscript dealer and proprietor of A. Rosenthal Ltd. and Otto Haas, the oldest music antiquariat worldwide, founded in 1866. She is a trustee of the Nietzsche House, Sils Maria, Switzerland.

Addressing a well-packed lecture theatre Ms Rosenthal described her pathway to Oscar Wilde, through her family’s troubled and difficult life as 20th century Jewish emigres in five countries before settling in England, and Switzerland. Wilde featured at the very beginning of this journey. From her school age performance as Miss Prism in England to the experience of flying to an international Wilde exhibition in New York on the day before 9/11, Julia Rosenthal’s lecture painted a remarkable picture of commitment and passionate advocacy of Wilde’s stature as a world figure of literature, transcending borders of nation and sexuality.

In a particularly moving portrait of Wilde’s final days in France, and in her depiction of one of the last known items that he composed prior to his death, Miss Rosenthal’s Wilde was seen clearly as a powerful and complicated exemplar for today – an exile in many ways, but one well-versed in the literatures of Europe and comfortable with his Irishness.

Professor Gerald Dawe, inaugural Director of the Oscar Wilde Centre, commented: “It’s important to reassert Wilde as a Trinity writer, quite literarily since he was born in Westland Row, in the house that now bears his name. But also it’s important to explore the multifaceted nature of his global achievement from a scholarly and creative point of view. This is what The Wilde Lecture hopes to set in place and with the 160th anniversary of his birth next year, it is timely that we have made such a great start with Julia Rosenthal’s wonderfully engaging and personal tribute.”