Oscar Wilde and Classical Antiquity

ISBN : 9780198789260

Kathleen Riley; Iarla Manny
384 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Nov 2017
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Few authors of the Victorian period were as immersed in classical learning as Oscar Wilde. Although famous now and during his lifetime as a wit, aesthete, and master epigrammist, Wilde distinguished himself early on as a talented classical scholar, studying at Trinity College Dublin and Oxford and winning academic prizes and distinctions at both institutions. His undergraduate notebooks as well as his essays and articles on ancient topics reveal a mind engrossed in problems in classical scholarship and fascinated by the relationship between ancient and modern thought. His first publications were English translations of classical texts and even after he had 'left Parnassus for Piccadilly' antiquity continued to provide him with a critical vocabulary in which he could express himself and his aestheticism, an intellectual framework for understanding the world around him, and a compelling set of narratives to fire his artist's imagination. His debt to Greece and Rome is evident throughout his writings, from the sparkling wit of society plays like The Importance of Being Earnest to the extraordinary meditation on suffering that is De Profundis, written during his incarceration in Reading Gaol. Oscar Wilde and Classical Antiquity brings together scholars from across the disciplines of classics, ancient history, English literature, theatre and performance studies, and the history of ideas to explore the varied and profound impact that Graeco-Roman antiquity had on Wilde's life and work. This wide-ranging collection covers all the major genres of his literary output; it includes new perspectives on his most celebrated and canonical texts and close analyses of unpublished material, revealing as never before the enduring breadth and depth of his love affair with the classics.


List of Illustrations
List of Contributors
0 Kathleen Riley: Introduction: Taking Parnassus to Piccadilly
1 Alastair J. L. Blanshard: Mahaffy and Wilde: A Study in Provocation
2 Gideon Nisbet: How Wilde Read John Addington Symonds's Studies of the Greek Poets
3 Iain Ross: 'Very fine & Semitic': Wilde's Herodotus
4 Joseph Bristow: Wilde's Abstractions: Notes on Literae Humaniores, 1876-8
5 John Stokes: Beyond Sculpture: Wilde's Responses to Greek Theatre in the 1880s
6 Clare L. E. Foster: Wilde and the Emergence of Literary Drama, 1880-95
7 Isobel Hurst: 'Tragedy in the disguise of mirth': Robert Browning, George Eliot, and Wilde
8 Kostas Boyiopoulos: Death by Unrequited Eros: Salome, Hippolytus, and Wilde's Inversion of Tragedy
9 Leanne Grech: Imagining Utopia: Oxford Hellenism and the Aesthetic Alternative
10 Kathleen Riley: 'All the terrible beauty of a Greek tragedy': Wilde's 'Epistola' and the Euripidean Christ
11 Kate Hext: Burning with a 'hard, gem-like flame': Heraclitus and Hedonism in Wilde's Writing
12 Stefano Evangelista: Cosmopolitan Classicism: Wilde between Greece and France
13 Marylu Hill: Wilde's New Republic: Platonic Questions in Dorian Gray
14 Nikolai Endres: From Eros to Romosexuality: Love and Sex in Dorian Gray
15 Iarla Manny: Oscar as (Ovid as) Orpheus: Misogyny and Pederasty in Dorian Gray and the Metamorphoses
16 Philip E. Smith II: Wilde and Roman History
17 Shushma Malik: The Criminal Emperors of Ancient Rome and Wilde's 'true historical sense'
18 Serena S. Witzke: 'I knew I had a brother!': Fraternity and Identity in Plautus' Menaechmi and Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest

About the author: 

Kathleen Riley is a former British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in Classics at Corpus Christi College, Oxford and now a freelance writer, theatre historian, and critic. She is the author of Nigel Hawthorne on Stage (University of Hertfordshire Press, 2004), The Reception and Performance of Euripides' Herakles: Reasoning Madness (OUP, 2008), and The Astaires: Fred & Adele (OUP USA, 2012), which has been optioned for a British feature film. She reviews plays and books on dance for the Times Literary Supplement and is a contributor to the Encyclopedia of Greek Tragedy (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013). Her current projects include a monograph exploring the ancient Greek concept of Nostos (homecoming) and its manifestations in literature and drama over the last hundred years.; Alastair Blanshard is the Paul Eliadis Professor of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Queensland. He works extensively in the field of Classical Reception studies, serving as an Associate Editor for the Classical Receptions Journal and the subject-area editor for Classical Reception for the Oxford Classical Dictionary, as well as overseeing the Classics after Antiquity series for Cambridge University Press as one of its general editors. His publications include Sex: Vice and Love from Antiquity to Modernity (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), Classics on Screen: Ancient Greece and Rome on Film (with Kim Shahabudin; Bloomsbury, 2011), and Classical World: All That Matters (Hodder and Stoughton, 2015).; Iarla Manny studied Classics at Trinity College Dublin and Balliol College, Oxford, where his MPhil thesis on Gerard Manley Hopkins's Hellenism and Hebraism was awarded the Gaisford Graduate Dissertation Prize by the University of Oxford's Faculty of Classics. He is a recent recipient of the Michael Comber PhD Studentship in the Reception of the Classical World, held jointly at the Open University and St Hilda's College, Oxford, and is a Graduate Associate of the Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama (APGRD) in the Classics Centre at the University of Oxford. He is currently completing his doctoral thesis on Oscar Wilde and Graeco-Roman antiquity.

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