Oscar Wilde and the Theatre of the 1890s

Overview

Kerry Powell examines Wilde's plays in relation to popular theatre of the 1890s, both in England and on the Continent. Along with revealing insights into the sexual and moral politics of the era, Powell provides an indispensable basis for understanding Wilde's achievement as a playwright. At his best, Wilde reconstitutes the dramatic fashions of the era, and partly as a result his plays have prevailed over the works, many now forgotten, that they simultaneously imitate and undermine. Through his analysis, Powell ...

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Overview

Kerry Powell examines Wilde's plays in relation to popular theatre of the 1890s, both in England and on the Continent. Along with revealing insights into the sexual and moral politics of the era, Powell provides an indispensable basis for understanding Wilde's achievement as a playwright. At his best, Wilde reconstitutes the dramatic fashions of the era, and partly as a result his plays have prevailed over the works, many now forgotten, that they simultaneously imitate and undermine. Through his analysis, Powell looks at the plays of, among others, Arthur Shirley, Lady Violet Greville, Sydney Grundy and W. Lestocq as well as the impact of Ibsen on Wilde. The book contains production photographs from plays by Wilde and by little-known playwrights and an appendix of biographies. Oscar Wilde and the Theatre of the 1890s will be of interest to students and specialists of drama, theatre history and English literature.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Oscar Wilde claimed that no dramatist of the 19th century had influenced him, yet in this carefully researched critical work Powell provides evidence to the contrary, pointing out several parallels between Wilde's plays and those of his contemporaries. In addition to examining the works of such playwrights as Sydney Grundy, Victorien Sardou, and W. Lestocq, Powell devotes a chapter to similarities between Ibsen's Pillars of Society and Wilde's An Ideal Husband , an unusual comparison. This book, besides offering new insight into Wilde's plays, captures the intellectual and aesthetic excitement of London in the 1890s with humorous anecdotes about Sarah Bernhardt and other theater personalities. The Victorian moral climate is also examined with particular emphasis on feminism and the relations between the sexes. Recommended for all who are interested in the theater.--Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521111676
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 6/11/2009
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

1. Rewriting the past; 2. Lady Windermere's Fan and the unmotherly mother; 3. Salomé, the censor, and the divine Sarah; 4. Unimportant women and men with a past; 5. Wilde and Ibsen; 6. An Ideal Husband: resisting the feminist police; 7. The importance of being at Terry's; 8. Algernon's other brothers; Epilogue; Appendix: Dramatists of the 1890s; Notes; Bibliography; Index.

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