The Importance of Reinventing Oscar

Versions of Wilde during the Last 100 Years


The present collection of essays is the outcome of the Oscar Wilde conference held at the Technical University of Dresden, 31 August - 3 September 2000. The papers cover a wide range of historical and comparative aspects: they look into the status of Wilde as poet, dramatist, essayist and intellectual during his own times as well as investigate the meaning of his work for subsequent writers and critics, thus, giving an outline of the Wildean history of literary reception, intellectual discourse and media transformation. Intellectually brilliant and challenging, Oscar Wilde had been a favourite of the late Victorians, performing the roles of the dandy and the poet of art for art's sake. However, due to his questioning of prevalent moral double standards and his insistence on the autonomy of art, he was indicted for gross indecencies, convicted, and sent to prison. Instead of being ostracised, he became a source of inspiration for writers and artists on the British isles as well as on the European continent.
The papers in this volume explore such topics as Wilde's concepts of socialism and aestheticism, his fashioning of the femme fatale and of the dandy, his use of fashion and of simulation, his impact on modernism and postmodernism as well as on genres such as crime writing and fictional biography, and the influence of Wilde on writers such as James Joyce, W.B. Yeats, Joe Orton, Peter Ackroyd, Tom Stoppard, David Hare and Mark Ravenhill. Other papers focus on the reception of Wilde in Russia, former Yugoslavia, Hungary and Germany as well as on cinematic and Internet representations of Wilde. Critical and creative responses vary from the general to the specific – from traditional assessments to analyses of the arts of camp, parody, and pastiche; thus, indicative of the (sub)cultural appropriation of 'Saint Oscar' (Terry Eagleton).

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Patrick Bridgwater: Some German Oscar Wildes Richard Corballis: Wild Essence of Wilde. Joyce’s Debt to Oscar in Ulysses John Dawick: Oscar’s Last First Night or The Impossibility of Exhausting Earnest Ines Detmers: Oscar’s Fashion. Constructing a Rhetoric of Androgyny Noreen Doody: ‘An echo of some one else’s music’. The Influence of Oscar Wilde on W.B. Yeats Kirby Farrell: Wilde and the Penalties of Modernism Anna-Christina Giovanopoulos: Wilde in the East. Processes of Mediation Ronald C. Griffin: The Trials of Oscar Wilde. The Intersection between Law and Literature Heike Haase: Oscar Wilde in Crime Literature Ann Heilmann: Wilde’s New Women. The New Woman on Wilde Beatrix Hesse: Stoppard’s Oscar Wilde – Travesty and Invention Christoph Houswitschka: Games Wilde Plays. Cinematic Wilde for the 1990s Jürgen Klein: Aesthetics of Coldness. The Case of Oscar Wilde Maria Kozyrewa: K. Balmont’s Translation of Oscar Wilde’s The Ballad of the Reading Gaol Lucia Krämer: Of Doormats and Iced Champagne. The Wilde Trials in Fictional Biography Stefan Lange: Wilde’s Concept of Love Krisztina Lajosi: The Reception of Oscar Wilde in Hungary. Translator as Critic – Critic as Artist – Translator as Artist Franz Meier: Oscar Wilde and the Myth of the Femme Fatale in Fin-de-Siècle Culture Michael Meyer: Wilde’s Lectures and Trials. The Imitation, Reproduction, and Simulation of Poses Martin Middeke: Oscar, the Proto-Postmodern? Peter Ackroyd’s The Last Testament of Oscar Wilde Anja Müller-Muth: Writing ‘Wilde’. The Importance of Re-Presenting Oscar Wilde in Fin-de-Millénaire Drama in English (Stoppard, Hare, Ravenhill) Fritz-Wilhelm Neumann: Wilde’s Afterlife in Cyberspace Annette Pankratz: Playing with Oscar – Camp as Textual Strategy in Adaptations of The Importance of Being Earnest by Orton, Fleming and Ravenhill Zvonimir Radeljkovic: Wilde as Moralist David Rose: Oscar Wilde. Socialite or Socialist? Catrin Siedenbiedel: Oscar Wilde’s ‘Critic as Artist’ and the ‘Artist as Critic’ in James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake Susanne Schmid: Byron and Wilde. The Dandy and the Public Sphere Waleska Schwandt: Oscar Wilde and the Stereotype of the Aesthete. An Investigation into the Prerequisites of Wilde’s Aesthetic Self-Fashioning