The School of the Future as well as the Present: Wilde’s Impressions of James in <i>Intentions</i> and <i>The Picture of Dorian Gray</i>

Michèle Mendelssohn

in Henry James, Oscar Wilde and Aesthetic Culture

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780748623853
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651634 | DOI:
The School of the Future as well as the Present: Wilde’s Impressions of James in Intentions and The Picture of Dorian Gray

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From the mid-1880s to the early 1890s, Oscar Wilde transformed himself into a ‘real artist’ and reinvented Aestheticism in the process by developing an artistic method that was strongly informed by his debate with James McNeill Whistler. This chapter reveals that at the same time as Wilde was combatting Whistler, he was also energetically engaged with Henry James. Wilde undervalues the degree to which he and James both adhere to a fictional interpretation of the impressionism Walter Pater advocates in The Renaissance. By repeatedly refining and reforming his impression of James and Whistler, Wilde developed a stronger sense of his own artistic ethos and, by the time he came to write The Picture of Dorian Gray in the autumn of 1889, he had successfully defined an aesthetic approach that incorporated and aimed to supersede that of both James and Whistler. This chapter also discusses Wilde's impressions of James in Intentions.

Keywords: Henry James; Oscar Wilde; Aestheticism; James McNeill Whistler; Intentions; The Picture of Dorian Gray; impressionism; Walter Pater; The Renaissance

Chapter.  14897 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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