Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Henry James, Oscar Wilde and Aesthetic Culture$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Michele Mendelssohn

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780748623853

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748623853.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 25 May 2022

‘Wild Thoughts and Desire! Things I Can’t Tell You – Words I Can’t Speak!’: The Drama of Identity in The Importance of Being Earnest and Guy Domville

‘Wild Thoughts and Desire! Things I Can’t Tell You – Words I Can’t Speak!’: The Drama of Identity in The Importance of Being Earnest and Guy Domville

Chapter:
(p.163) Chapter 4 ‘Wild Thoughts and Desire! Things I Can’t Tell You – Words I Can’t Speak!’: The Drama of Identity in The Importance of Being Earnest and Guy Domville
Source:
Henry James, Oscar Wilde and Aesthetic Culture
Author(s):

Michèle Mendelssohn

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748623853.003.0005

Oscar Wilde's vigorous rejection and absorption of James McNeill Whistler and Henry James demonstrates that he reinvented himself and Aestheticism by successfully challenging assumptions about artistic legitimacy. The close of the nineteenth century saw the articulation of a discourse of male homosexuality because of what the public dramatisation of Wilde's trial entailed, and this new idiom of transgressive selfhood is latent in James's Guy Domville and Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest. The century's sexual turning point is thus closely intertwined with another crisis in aesthetic culture, as Wilde's trial forever changed the way the movement would be perceived. These plays expose the personal cost of transgression against normative masculinity and their historical context also inscribes this concern into a larger project, namely, Wilde's and James's attempts to represent the effect of transgressive desires and behaviours on identity.

Keywords:   Henry James, Oscar Wilde, Aestheticism, homosexuality, transgressive selfhood, Guy Domville, The Importance of Being Earnest, plays, transgression, identity

Edinburgh Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.