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: 27 June 2022

Despoiling Poynton: James, the Wilde Trials and Interior Decoration

Despoiling Poynton: James, the Wilde Trials and Interior Decoration

(p.197) Chapter 5 Despoiling Poynton: James, the Wilde Trials and Interior Decoration
Henry James, Oscar Wilde and Aesthetic Culture

Michèle Mendelssohn

Edinburgh University Press

In the spring of 1895, Oscar Wilde was at the epicentre of the most famous lawsuit in homosexual history. The sequence of three trials had begun in early April with Wilde's libel suit against the Marquess of Queensberry, who had accused him of being a ‘posing Somdomite [sic]’. By the end of April, the tables had turned and Wilde was being sued by Queensberry. Unable to pay his debts, Wilde declared bankruptcy and the entire contents of his home were auctioned. This chapter concentrates on the social rupture caused by Wilde's trial. It argues that the events of 1895 ripped apart the fabric of aesthetic social culture and that this is manifest in contemporary interior decoration as well as in The Spoils of Poynton. The novel not only reflects Henry James's uneasiness about the Wilde trials and their implications but, more compellingly, his sense that the aesthetics of interior decoration embodied in the notion of the ‘House Beautiful’ was richly expressive of (and thoroughly caught up in) the crisis of sexual ideology that emerged from the trials.

Keywords:   Henry James, Oscar Wilde, trials, libel suit, Marquess of Queensberry, social culture, The Spoils of Poynton, aesthetics, interior decoration, sexual ideology

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.