Chapter

Post/modern: On the Gay Sensibility, or the Pervert's Revenge on Authenticity—Wilde, Genet, Orton, and Others

Jonathan Dollimore

in Sexual Dissidence

Published in print August 1991 | ISBN: 9780198112259
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191670732 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198112259.003.0020
Post/modern: On the Gay Sensibility, or the Pervert's Revenge on Authenticity—Wilde, Genet, Orton, and Others

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The anarchic and the political, the anger and the boredom, are all active in Oscar Wilde's transgressive aesthetic. Which brings one to camp, considered by some to be the essence of the homosexual sensibility. The definition of camp is as elusive as the sensibility itself. This chapter discusses post-modern issues of gay sensibility and the like according to Wilde, Jean Genet, and Joe Orton, among others. The search for the nature of the distinctively gay sensibility can be productively redirected as an exploration of the limitations of the aesthetic as conventionally understood, especially the way it is said to transcend the socio-political, and used in support of the proposition that discrimination is the essence of culture. Further, rather than seeking such a sensibility in an ‘inner condition’, one might more usefully identify it outwardly and in relation to other strategies of survival and subversion, especially the masquerade of femininity, and the mimicry of the colonial subject.

Keywords: Oscar Wilde; transgressive aesthetic; homosexuality; gay sensibility; Jean Genet; Joe Orton; femininity; subversion

Chapter.  8389 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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