Volume 8, Issue 1, January 2020, Page: 23-29
Oscar Wilde and the Late-Victorian Spectacular Theatre
Yang Yu, English Department, School of Foreign Languages and Literature, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China
Received: Jan. 23, 2020;       Accepted: Feb. 14, 2020;       Published: Feb. 26, 2020
DOI: 10.11648/j.ijla.20200801.14      View  57      Downloads  43
Abstract
The present paper mainly focuses on the stage of archaeological authenticity in the late-Victorian spectacular theatre and Oscar Wilde’s special response to this unprecedented theatrical style. The late-Victorian theatre was a place where spectacle was combined with archaeology. The spectacular effect on stage was achieved with the assistance of archaeological research. Paradoxically enough, theatre artists took great pains to find archaeological evidence for every stage scene, yet at the same time they felt entirely free to revise the text of the playwright and to replace words with images. Oscar Wilde did not understand the spectacular nature of his age until the early 1890s. His early journalistic essay “Shakespeare on Scenery” and its extended version “Shakespeare and Stage Costume” stressed the realistic effect created by the archaeological stage, while in “Truth of Masks”, the final version of “Shakespeare on Scenery”, Wilde radically reversed his original argument and turned to assert the importance of illusion by changing certain expressions of the text. The controversial views contained in the several versions of the text hinted at Wilde’s own ambiguous attitude towards the historical spectacles on stage. Yet the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, published in 1891, reflected Wilde’s growing understanding of the visual spectacles on stage. For Wilde, as represented by Dorian Gray in the novel, the spectacular stage provided the only proper site for visual concentration of his age. Dorian’s excessive love of stage image also accounted partially for Wilde’s advocacy of the predominance of appearance in his aesthetics.
Keywords
Wilde, Spectacularization, Archaeological Authenticity, Dorian Gray
To cite this article
Yang Yu, Oscar Wilde and the Late-Victorian Spectacular Theatre, International Journal of Literature and Arts. Vol. 8, No. 1, 2020, pp. 23-29. doi: 10.11648/j.ijla.20200801.14
Copyright
Copyright © 2020 Authors retain the copyright of this article.
This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Reference
[1]
Lawtoo, Nidesh. “The Critic as Mime: Wilde’s Theoretical Performance” symplokē, 26. 1-2 (2017): 307-328.
[2]
Wilde, Oscar. The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde. Ed. Merlin Holland and Rupert Hart-Davis. London: Fourth Estate, 2000: 96-487.
[3]
Sondeep Kandora. “Rereading Oscar Wild’s intentions for ‘The Importance of Doing Nothing’” Nineteen-Century Prose, Vol. 43, Spring/Fall 2016: 385-402.
[4]
Wilde, Oscar. Selected Journalism. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2004: 44-46.
[5]
Wilde, Oscar. “Shakespeare and Stage Costume.” Nineteenth Century, January ― June 1885: 800–818.
[6]
Thornton, Amara. “Tis the Season: annual exhibition in archaeology” Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology: Characters and Collections. Ed. Alice Stevenson. London: UCL Press, 2015: 84-87.
[7]
Danson, Lawrence. Wilde’s Intentions: The Artist in His Criticism. Oxford: Clarendon, 1999: 68.
[8]
Wilde, Oscar. The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1994: 1060-1078.
[9]
Taylor, George. Players and Performances in the Victorian Theatre. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1989: 9-101.
[10]
Booth, Michael R. Theatre in the Victorian Age. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1991: 35.
[11]
Mullin, Donald. Victorian Actors and Actresses in Review: A Dictionary of Contemporary Views of Representative British and American Actors and Actresses, 1837-1901. Ed. Donald Mullin. Westport: Greenwood, 1983: 253.
[12]
Hughes, Alan. Henry Irving, Shakespearean. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1981: 17-89.
[13]
Booth, Michael R. Victorian Spectacular Theatre: 1850-1910. Boston: Routledge, 1981: 47-160.
[14]
Finkel, Alicia. Romantic Stages: Set and Costume Design in Victorian England. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1996: 83.
[15]
Schoch, Richard W. Shakespeare’s Victorian Stage: Performing History in the Theatre of Charles Kean. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998: 51-99.
[16]
Storm, William. “Impression Henry Irving: The Performance in the Portrait by Jules Bastien-Lepage.” Victorian Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Social, Political, and Cultural Studies 46.3 (2004): 399-423.
[17]
Wilde, Oscar. The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde. Ed. Bobby Fong, et al. vol. 3 Oxford: Oxford UP, 2000: 186-243.
[18]
Ellmann, Richard. Oscar Wilde. New York: Vintage, 1988: 110-111.
[19]
Wilde, Oscar. The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde. Ed. Bobby Fong, et al. vol. 1 Oxford: Oxford UP, 2000: 152.
[20]
Marshall, Gail. Actress on the Victorian Stage. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998: 97-101.
[21]
Nunokawa, Jeff. Tame Passions of Wilde. Prince: on: Princeton UP, 2003: 147.
[22]
Debord, Guy. The Society of the Spectacle. Trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith. New York: Zone, 1994: 12-17.
[23]
Richards, Thomas. The Commodity Culture of Victorian England: Advertising and Spectacle 1851-1914. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1990: 55-56.
Browse journals by subject