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date: 18 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

While Oscar Wilde’s plays—particularly his comedies—have often been read in terms of politics of gender identity and social class, it has not often been observed that they were also responding to a sense of political crisis in the 1890s. This chapter unravels the traces of a wider geopolitics in Wilde’s plays, extending beyond London or Dublin. It argues that the magnificent, unsettling witticisms of Wilde’s dramas, their constant play with the dangers of social and political subterfuge, and their fascination with the sacrificial act all contribute to the sense of his theatrical achievement as a portent of the calamities that would follow the age of Wagner. It concludes that while Wilde did not write for Ireland, the influence of Ireland’s historical conflict with England prompted and enabled him to develop his distinctive theatrical perspectives on art, politics, and sacrifice as prophecies of this future.

Keywords: Oscar Wilde, sacrifice, Richard Wagner, Friedrich Nietzsche

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