Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

The name traditionally given to the daughter of Herodias who – according to Matthew – pleased the tetrarch Herod with her dancing and claimed the head of John the Baptist as reward, thus securing herself the role of Christian Fantasy's principal Femme Fatale. She was sometimes called Herodias, and is confusingly renamed Lilith in "Lilith" (1890) by Jules Lemaître (1853-1914). She was adopted as a central symbol of Decadence, her image variously immortalized in two paintings by Gustave Moreau (1826-1898) and a series of illustrations by Aubrey Beardsley. Her story is retold in an episode of An Epic of Fine Women (1870) by Arthur W O'Shaughnessy (1844-1881), in Salomé (1893 France; trans 1894) by Oscar Wilde and in Salome, Princess of Galilee (1951) by Henry Denker (1912-2012). It is dramatically extended in Salome the Wandering Jewess (1930) by George Viereck and Paul Eldridge (1888-1982), and reconfigured in "Salomé" (1992) by Brian Stableford.

Movies of relevance include: the silent Salome (1923 US) dir Charles Bryant and with set drawings by Beardsley, based on the Wilde play and starring Nazimova; Salome (1953 US) dir William Dieterle, starring Rita Hayworth and Charles Laughton in a standard Hollywood biblical epic (here, though, Salome dances in an effort to save the life of John the Baptist); Salome (1986 Italy) dir Claude D'Anna, a soft-porn version; and Salome's Last Dance (1987 UK) dir Ken Russell, which has Wilde as the audience to a performance of his play by a band of prostitutes. [BS/JG]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.