Oscar Wilde in Vienna is the first book-length study in English of the reception of Oscar Wilde’s works in the German-speaking world. Charting the plays’ history on Viennese stages between 1903 and 2013, it casts a spotlight on the international reputation of one of the most popular English-language writers while contributing to Austrian cultural history in the long twentieth century.
Drawing on extensive archival material, the book examines the appropriation of Wilde's plays against the background of political crises and social transformations. It unravels the mechanisms of cultural transfer and canonisation within an environment positioned — like Wilde himself — at the crossroads of centre and periphery, tradition and modernity.
Sandra Mayer, Ph.D. (2012), University of Vienna, is a Hertha Firnberg Research Fellow in English Literature at the universities of Vienna and Oxford. Her work is situated at the crossroads of literary and cultural history, authorship studies, and life-writing research.
"This is not only a fascinating and lucid study suitable for those interested in Wilde’s plays on the stage and in theatre history more generally, but is also ideal for those with an interest in the narratives of appropriation of literature across times and cultures."
Forum for Modern Language Studies, Volume 55, Issue 3, July 2019, Pages 355–356, 17 July 2019.
List of IllustrationsAcknowledgementsIntroduction: Oscar Wilde and the Art of Creating a Great Sensation The Stage as Meeting Place of the Arts: Charting Theoretical and Methodological Territory
1 An Artefact of Commodified Culture: Trading Wilde in the Literary Marketplace A ‘First- Rate Theatrical Fashion Item’: Wilde
En vogue in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna More Conformist than Rebel? Wilde in the Context of Late- Nineteenth- Century Literary Culture Writing to be Popular: Wilde as a Professional Playwright Pleasing and Teasing the Audience: Wilde’s Society Comedies as Artistic Compromise?
2 Curtain Up: Wilde Enters the Viennese Stage Literary Cosmopolitanism: Wilde and Fin- de- Siècle Viennese Artistic Networks Agents of Mediation: Examples of Wilde’s Early Viennese Popularisation
3 Forging the Construct: Wilde the Playwright in Early-Twentieth-Century Vienna “Midway between Fact and Legend”: Converging Images of Wilde’s Life and Work Visions of Salome, Visions of Wilde: Biographical Readings of Wilde’s ‘Symbolist Relic’ on Viennese Stages Intellectual Elegance – Elegant Intellectuality: The Early Viennese Reception of Wilde’s Society Comedies Like a Parody Parodied: The Importance of Being Earnest in Early- Twentieth- Century Vienna
4 Consolidating the Construct: The Canonisation of Wildean Drama on Viennese Stages before 1938 A Triumph of ‘Old Theatre’: Wilde’s ‘Phosphorescent Salon Philosophy’ in the Contexts of Critical Reception and Audience Success Viennese Theatre as Actors’ Theatre: Transforming Lady Bracknell into a ‘Woman of Some Importance’ A ‘Paradoxical Englishman’ in Vienna: Wilde Reception and National Identity London Dandy Meets Viennese Bonvivant: The Cultural ‘Other’ in Wilde’s Comedies on Pre- World War II Viennese Stages
5 Modifying vs Preserving the Construct: The Viennese Wilde Revival after 1945 A Case of ‘Historico- Cultural Reminiscence’: Wildean Drama and Patterns of Continuity in Postwar Austrian Theatre Practice and Criticism
Classic or Déclassé:
Wildean Comedy in Defence of its Canonicity Noblesse, Nostalgia, and Viennese Bonhomie: Wilde’s Comedies at the Theater in der Josefstadt
6 Remodelling the Construct: Wildean Drama and the Politics of Disambiguation at the Turn of the Twenty- First Century ‘Comedy Exorcism’ between ‘Punchline Pornography’ and ‘Popmodern Parody’: Elfriede Jelinek Goes Wilde
A Wild(e) Treatment: The ‘Jelinekisation’ of The Importance of Being Earnest Viennese Travesties of Wilde: Gender Deconstruction and Neoliberal Criticism in Commercial and Fringe Wilde Productions
Conclusion: Literary Reputation(s) and the Promise of Canonical Survival, or In Pursuit of the ‘Real’ WildeAppendix: Viennese Productions of Oscar Wilde’s Works, 1903–2013BibliographyIndex
Scholars, students, and readers interested in Oscar Wilde and his international reception, the performance history of his plays, Viennese theatre and cultural history, and mechanisms of cultural transfer and canonisation.