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Consumerism, Celebrity Culture and the Aesthetic Impure in Oscar Wilde

Pierpaolo Martino    Università degli Studi di Bari, Italia    

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abstract

This article investigates the discursive arena in which Oscar Wilde exercised his countercultural and necessarily impure aesthetic taste, focusing on some defining aspects and texts of Wilde's epopee, namely his cult of celebrity, which was nourished, in particular, by his 1882 tour of the United States, his interest in performance – which turned the author into the director and main actor of the very drama entitled Oscar Wilde – and his apparently contradictory approach to consumer culture. Wilde, indeed, seemed to embrace opposite stances in relation to consumerism as it is witnessed by such works as «The Soul of Man Under Socialism» and The Picture of Dorian Gray, on the one side, and «The Decay of Lying», Lady Windermere's Fan and An Ideal Husband, on the other. This essay also reads Wilde's last play The Importance of Being Earnest in terms of a «performance about performance», rooted as Wilde's previous plays in consumer culture and capable of deconstructing the Victorian highly normative (and 'rational') approach to gender and, in particular, to masculinity.

Pubblicato
01 Dicembre 2015
Lingua
EN

Keywords: Oscar WildeConsumerismPerformanceKeywords Celebrity

Copyright: © 2015 Pierpaolo Martino. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.