Journals Higher Education



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Published: 14 January 1999

208 Pages

ISBN: 9780198186281

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Bookseller Code (06)

Wilde's Intentions

The Artist in his Criticism

Lawrence Danson

What were Wilde's intentions? They had always been suspect, from the time of Poems, when the charge was plagiarism, to his trials, when the charge was sodomy. In Intentions (1891), and in two related essays, "The Portrait of Mr W. H." and "The Soul of Man Under Socialism," Wilde's epigrammatic dazzle and paradoxical subversions both reveal and mask his designs upon fin-de-siécle society. In the first extended study of Wilde's criticism, Lawrence Danson examines these essays/dialogues/fictions and assesses their achievement. He sets Wilde's criticism in context, showing how the son of an Irish patriot sought to create a new ideal of English culture by elevating "lies" above history, leveling the distinction between artist and critic, and ending the sway of "nature"u over liberated human desire.