Oscar Wilde and the Late-Victorian Spectacular Theatre
International Journal of Literature and Arts
Volume 8, Issue 1, January 2020, Pages: 23-29
Received: Jan. 23, 2020; Accepted: Feb. 14, 2020; Published: Feb. 26, 2020
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Yang Yu, English Department, School of Foreign Languages and Literature, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China
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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.
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 © 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.
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