Oscar Wilde: The Works of a Conformist Rebel

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Cambridge University Press, Nov 9, 1989 - Literary Criticism - 452 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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