Oscar Wilde: The Works of a Conformist Rebel

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Cambridge University Press, Mar 3, 2011 - Literary Criticism - 450 pages
Originally published in English in 1989, from a 1980 German edition, this book provides a comprehensive study of Oscar Wilde's work. It aims to gain fresh insight into his literary and critical œuvre by fully analysing each of his works on the basis of a textually oriented interpretation, taking equal account of the biographical and intellectual contexts. Professor Kohl's starting-point is the thesis that Wilde's identity - both personal and artistic - can only be adequately described in terms of a conflict between two opposing forces: individualism and convention. This conflict colours not only Wilde's use of Romantic and Victorian images and motifs, but also his modern portrayal of the individual's alienation from society, the loss of transcendent values, the sovereignty of subjectivity and autonomous art, and also his formal experiments with language. This is a penetrating and highly readable account of Wilde as a 'conformist rebel'.
 

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Contents

Epigonic experiments
15
The selfish and the selfless
49
Personality and perfection
68
Authority and autonomy
123
Culture and corruption
138
Sensuality and suggestion
176
Pathos and paradox
205
Propriety and parody
255
Apologies and accusations
275
Plans sketches and fragments
308
Conclusion
318
List of abbreviations
327
Select bibliography
411
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