Volume 5, Issue 1, March 2020, Page: 36-44
The Aesthetics of Exhibitionism: Oscar Wilde as a Public Aesthete
Yang Yu, English Department, School of Foreign Languages and Literature, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China
Received: Jan. 24, 2020;       Accepted: Feb. 14, 2020;       Published: Feb. 25, 2020
DOI: 10.11648/j.ellc.20200501.14      View  273      Downloads  140
Oscar Wilde develops a unique way of critical arguments in which the critical discourse carries a special exhibition effect. Despite his condemnation of the contemporary tendency that literature appeals more to the eye, this visuality in language reveals his desire for self-exhibition in the public domain. Therefore, Wilde distinguishes himself from other intellectuals of his time by providing a sensation for the pleasure of eyes and by offering a new visual pattern for the intellectual attraction to the public. The present paper attempts to demonstrate that a sort of exhibitionism functions as a foundational element in Wilde’s literary creation. His critical essays, as represented by “The Critic as Artist,” are characterized by a conspicuous exhibition of classical knowledge and aesthetic temperament. In his advocacy of “art for art’s sake,” artistic uniqueness is interrelated with the widespread pursuit of visual stimulus and display of difference among the reading public of the late Victorian period. Thus, it is impossible to have a comprehensive understanding of Wilde’s literary achievement and aesthetic sensibilities without serious consideration of his publicity-seeking self-exhibition. In this sense, the paper tends to show that Wilde’s aestheticism is, in essence, the aesthetics of exhibitionism. It regards superficial quality as the high standard of wit, style the very condition of art, and appearance the real nature of life.
Exhibitionism, Public Aesthete, Style, Sensation
To cite this article
Yang Yu, The Aesthetics of Exhibitionism: Oscar Wilde as a Public Aesthete, English Language, Literature & Culture. Vol. 5, No. 1, 2020, pp. 36-44. doi: 10.11648/j.ellc.20200501.14
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