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'I love acting - it is so much more real than life,' Oscar Wilde famously wrote. Acting Wilde demonstrates that Wilde's plays, fiction, and critical theory are organised by the idea that all so-called 'reality' is a mode of performance, and that the 'meanings' of life are really the scripted elements of a dramatic spectacle. Wilde's real issue was whether one could become the author of his own script, the creator of the character and role he inhabits. It was a question he struggled to answer from the beginning of his career to the end, whether in his position as the pre-eminent dramatist in English or as the beleaguered defendant on trial for 'gross indecency'. Introducing important evidence from Wilde's career-launching tour of America, the often tortured revisions of his plays, and the recently discovered written record of his first courtroom trial, this book reconstructs Wilde's strategic dramatising of himself.Read more
- Was the first book to present the fascinating evidence of the transcript of Wilde's courtroom trial
- Places Wilde's revolutionary attitudes within the context of late-Victorian developments in the understanding of gender and sexuality
- Extensive study available of Wilde's sexuality, life-experience, and playwriting in relation to contemporary theories of performance
Reviews & endorsements
"the distinguished critic of late nineteenth-century theater, Kerry Powell, presents a revisionary reading of Wilde’s career...Powell’s readings of the plays as involving accommodations differ from those of Sos Eltis, who argues compellingly, also based on the playwright’s revisions, for Wilde’s politically liberated views... Those who understand the plays in that liberatory way will find a whetstone in Powell’s strong-minded, suggestive readings."
-John Paul Riquelme, Boston University, Modern Drama Spring 2011
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- Date Published: November 2009
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9780521516921
- length: 216 pages
- dimensions: 229 x 152 x 16 mm
- weight: 0.49kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
Introduction: Acting Wilde
1. Posing and dis-posing: Oscar Wilde in America and beyond
2. Pure Wilde: feminism and masculinity in Lady Windermere's Fan, Salomé, and A Woman of No Importance
3. Performance anxiety in An Ideal Husband
4. Performativity and history: The Importance of Being Earnest
5. The 'lost' transcript, sexual acting, and the meaning of Wilde's trials
6. Prison performativity
Epilogue: Wilde and modern drama
Bibliography of manuscripts and printed sources.
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