Oscar Wilde's reputation has shifted dramatically during the twentieth century from outcast in the wake of his trials for homosexual offences, to martyr to the gay cause in the 1980s and 90s, to important figure in the history of writing in English. Ruth Robbins introduces Wilde through a focus on his manipulations of genre and sets Wilde's life and work in its literary and cultural context, including the history of Victorian drama; the contexts of criticism in the period; poetry as post-romantic and pre-modernist mode of expression; the uses and subversions of fictional forms in his work; and his subversion of the autobiographical mode in his prison letter De Profundis. This comprehensive and readable introduction offers readers and students a lively and informative guide to Wilde's significance in the context of his own time and his extensive afterlife in literature, criticism and popular culture.
Ruth Robbins is Associate Dean and Head of the School of Cultural Studies at Leeds Metropolitan University, UK. She has published widely on the late nineteenth century in general and on Oscar Wilde in particular.