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Conditions for CriticismAuthority, Knowledge, and Literature in the Late Nineteenth Century$
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Ian Small

Print publication date: 1991

Print ISBN-13: 9780198122418

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198122418.001.0001

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Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde

(p.112) 5 Oscar Wilde
Conditions for Criticism

Ian Small

Oxford University Press

This chapter evaluates Oscar Wilde's literary strategy. It notes that critics described Wilde as a dilettante and that his work was marred by its fundamental lack of seriousness. It examines Wilde's engagement with a series of contemporary assumptions about texts in the expectation of finding qualities such as consistency, originality, and authority, as well as his use of motifs. It discusses how Wilde challenged the relationship between authority and institutional orthodoxy, and thus, challenged the traditional relationships between authority and knowledge. He redefines authority and places it in the hands of the man of taste — the Aesthete, the exemplar of whom was of course Wilde himself.

Keywords:   Oscar Wilde, authority, institutional orthodoxy, knowledge

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