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Research Article

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.

Keywords: Keywords Celebrity. Consumerism. Oscar Wilde. Performance.

Language: en

Published: Dec. 1, 2015  

permalink: http://doi.org/10.14277/2420-823X/EL-2-2-15-13

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License