Although known primarily as the irreverent but dazzlingly witty playwright who penned The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde was also an able and farsighted critic. He was an early advocate of criticism as an independent branch of literature and stressed its vital role in the creative process. Scholars continue to debate many of Wilde's critical positions.
Included in Richard Ellmann's impressive collection of Wilde's criticism, The Artist as Critic, is a wide selection of Wilde's book reviews as well as such famous longer works as "The Portrait of Mr. W.H.," "The Soul Man under Socialism," and the four essays which make up Intentions. The Artist as Critic will satisfy any Wilde fan's yearning for an essential reading of his critical work.
"Wilde . . . emerges now as not only brilliant but also revolutionary, one of the great thinkers of dangerous thoughts."—Walter Allen, New York Times Book Review
"The best of Wilde's nonfictional prose can be found in The Artist as Critic."—Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World
Arriving at the port of New York in 1882, a 27-year-old Oscar Wilde quipped he had “nothing to declare but my genius.” But as this sparkling narrative reveals, Wilde was, rarely for him, underselling himself. A chronicle of his sensational eleven-month speaking tour of America, Declaring His Genius offers an indelible portrait of both Oscar Wilde and the Gilded Age. Neither Wilde nor America would ever be the same.
“One should either wear a work of art, or be a work of art,” Oscar Wilde once declared. In The Invention of Oscar Wilde, Nicholas Frankel explores Wilde’s self-creation as a “work of art” and a carefully constructed cultural icon. Frankel takes readers on a journey through Wilde’s inventive, provocative life, from his Irish origins—and their public erasure—through his challenges to traditional concepts of masculinity and male sexuality, his marriage and his affairs with young men, including his great love Lord Alfred Douglas, to his criminal conviction and final years of exile in France. Along the way, Frankel takes a deep look at Wilde’s writings, paradoxical wit, and intellectual convictions.
Oscar Wilde and Modern Culture: The Making of a Legend explores the meteoric rise, sudden fall, and legendary resurgence of an immensely influential writer’s reputation from his hectic 1881 American lecture tour to recent Hollywood adaptations of his dramas. Always renowned—if not notorious—for his fashionable persona, Wilde courted celebrity at an early age. Later, he came to prominence as one of the most talented essayists and fiction writers of his time.
In the years leading up to his two-year imprisonment, Wilde stood among the foremost dramatists in London. But after he was sent down for committing acts of “gross indecency” it seemed likely that social embarrassment would inflict irreparable damage to his legacy. As this volume shows, Wilde died in comparative obscurity. Little could he have realized that in five years his name would come back into popular circulation thanks to the success of Richard Strauss’s opera Salome and Robert Ross’s edition of De Profundi. With each succeeding decade, the twentieth century continued to honor Wilde’s name by keeping his plays in repertory, producing dramas about his life, adapting his works for film, and devising countless biographical and critical studies of his writings.
This volume reveals why, more than a hundred years after his demise, Wilde’s value in the academic world, the auction house, and the entertainment industry stands higher than that of any modern writer.
Better known in 1882 as a cultural icon than a serious writer, Oscar Wilde was brought to North America for a major lecture tour on Aestheticism and the decorative arts. With characteristic aplomb, he adopted the role as the ambassador of Aestheticism, and he tried out a number of phrases, ideas, and strategies that ultimately made him famous as a novelist and playwright. This exceptional volume cites all ninety-one of Wilde's interviews and contains transcripts of forty-eight of them, and it also includes his lecture on his travels in America.
Oscar Wilde was seemingly drawn towards many paradoxes: paganism and Christianity; to be a playboy or a prophet; or to be an aesthetic clown or the creative critic. George Woodcock takes us through this double image of the celebrated personality and writer and attempts to resolve the contradictions. Wilde was influenced by Walter Pater and the Epicureans, by John Ruskin’s theories on Art and also by his severe criticisms of the Industrial Revolution, and by the writings of Chuang Tzu, the ancient Chinese Taoist. He was also drawn to Jesus trying bravely to fit him into his growing asymmetrical system. The Wilde/Queensborough ‘scandal’ trial is not much discussed here, but the resultant works are: De Profundis, the letter to Lord Douglas, erstwhile lover and nemesis; The Ballad of Reading Gaol, that heartrending dry of pain from the universal prison. The paradox: this is the same man who wrote frothy plays like The Importance of Being Earnest and the manifesto, The Souls of Man Under Socialism, which is included in this book, a work which socialists do not take seriously because they have difficulty envisioning a non-authoritarian society. Oscar Wilde could. In reality, he expressed an anarchist, individualist vision, straight, thus coming close to unraveling his own, and our paradox.
Nicholas Frankel presents a revisionary account of Oscar Wilde’s final years, spent in poverty and exile in Europe following his release from an English prison for the crime of gross indecency between men. Despite repeated setbacks and open hostility, Wilde—unapologetic and even defiant—attempted to rebuild himself as a man, and a man of letters.
Oscar Wilde's 1891 symbolist tragedy Salomé has had a rich afterlife in literature, opera, dance, film, and popular culture. Salome's Modernity: Oscar Wilde and the Aesthetics of Transgression is the first comprehensive scholarly exploration of that extraordinary resonance that persists to the present. Petra Dierkes-Thrun positions Wilde as a founding figure of modernism and Salomé as a key text in modern culture's preoccupation with erotic and aesthetic transgression, arguing that Wilde's Salomé marks a major turning point from a dominant traditional cultural, moral, and religious outlook to a utopian aesthetic of erotic and artistic transgression. Wilde and Salomé are seen to represent a bridge linking the philosophical and artistic projects of writers such as Mallarmé, Pater, and Nietzsche to modernist and postmodernist literature and philosophy and our contemporary culture. Dierkes-Thrun addresses subsequent representations of Salome in a wide range of artistic productions of both high and popular culture through the works of Richard Strauss, Maud Allan, Alla Nazimova, Ken Russell, Suri Krishnamma, Robert Altman, Tom Robbins, and Nick Cave, among others.
An innovative new edition of nine classic short stories from one of the greatest writers of the Victorian era.
“I cannot think other than in stories,” Oscar Wilde once confessed to his friend André Gide. In this new selection of his short fiction, Wilde’s gifts as a storyteller are on full display, accompanied by informative facing-page annotations from Wilde biographer and scholar Nicholas Frankel. A wide-ranging introduction brings readers into the world from which the author drew inspiration.
Each story in the collection brims with Wilde’s trademark wit, style, and sharp social criticism. Many are reputed to have been written for children, although Wilde insisted this was not true and that his stories would appeal to all “those who have kept the childlike faculties of wonder and joy.” “Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime” stands alongside Wilde’s comic masterpiece The Importance of Being Earnest, while other stories—including “The Happy Prince,” the tale of a young ruler who had never known sorrow, and “The Nightingale and the Rose,” the story of a nightingale who sacrifices herself for true love—embrace the theme of tragic, forbidden love and are driven by an undercurrent of seriousness, even despair, at the repressive social and sexual values of Wilde’s day. Like his later writings, Wilde’s stories are a sweeping indictment of the society that would imprison him for his homosexuality in 1895, five years before his death at the age of forty-six.
Published here in the form in which Victorian readers first encountered them, Wilde’s short stories contain much that appeals to modern readers of vastly different ages and temperaments. They are the perfect distillation of one of the Victorian era’s most remarkable writers.