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(p.25) Chapter Two Macaronis
Oscar Wilde Prefigured
Dominic Janes
University of Chicago Press

Part One of this book explores Britain up to the Napoleonic wars. The eighteenth century saw a proliferation of terms referring to a class of effeminate men supposedly prominent amongst the monied classes. One of the most prominent of such terms was the ‘macaroni’ and this provides the focus for chapter 2. The first mention of these figures, men who had supposedly brought a variety of peculiar tastes (including for Italian food) back from their time on the Grand Tour, came from the pen of Horace Walpole in 1764. By the early 1770s the book and print sellers of London were deluging the public with humorous images of macaronis. At the height of this craze a series of sodomy scandals established various connections between the image of the macaroni and that of the sodomite. This section of the book explores this phenomenon by examining key examples of such satirical prints. It is established that homosocial communities of British men in Italy played a key role in the development of the genre of visual caricature in the mid-eighteenth century.

Keywords:   Horace Walpole, Grand Tour, Macaronis

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