A while back I whined about a Harper’s piece in which the writer described people attending a publishing trade show in devastating detail. Our forthcoming book Oscar Wilde in America: The Interviews suggests that there is a precedent for this writing style.
From New York World, January 3, 1882:
“Mr. Wilde is fully six feet three inches in height, straight as an arrow, and with broad shoulders and long arms, indicating considerable strength. His outer garment was a long ulster trimmed with two kinds of fur, which reached almost to his feet. He wore patent-leather shoes, a smoking-cap or turban, and his shirt might be termed ultra-Byronic, or perhapsâ€”décolleté. A sky-blue cravat of the sailor style hung well down upon the chest. His hair flowed over his shoulders in dark-brown waves, curling slightly upwards at the ends. His eyes were of a deep blue, but without that faraway expression that is popularly attributed to poets. In fact they seemed rather everyday and commonplace eyes. His teeth were large and regular, disproving a pleasing story which has gone the rounds of the English press that he has three tusks or protuberants far from agreeable to look at. He is beardless, and his complexion is almost colorless.”