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Wilde Rewound: Time-Travelling with Oscar in Recent Author Fictions

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Author(s): Kirby Joris

Journal: Authorship
ISSN 2034-4643

Volume: 1;
Issue: 2;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: Oscar Wilde | author fiction | fictionalised authority | authorial appropriation | epistolary | fictional interview

ABSTRACT
In the early 1980s historical figures in general – and writers from the past in particular – entered a kind of Golden Age thanks to fiction. Through various forms of semi-biographical novels and other narratives, they have, from that time forward, been enjoying a pampered life in a new genre called “the author-as-character” (Franssen and Hoenselaars 1999) or “author fictions” (Savu 2009) that reanimate them or conjure them up in a present that constantly seeks to reassert its link with the past. This is particularly true of Oscar Wilde’s life, for his disparate and colourful personality has been time and again re-appropriated in recent fiction. This article focuses on three of these contemporary fictional depictions: an epistolary novel, an epistolary website and a fictional interview, all three dealing with a fictionalised Oscar Wilde conversing with a contemporary author who is also an interviewer in his or her own way and right. Because they are very close to each other in terms of narration (i.e. impersonation and pastiche) and subject, putting words in Wilde’s mouth as though they were his own, The Unauthorized Letters of Oscar Wilde, the website Dialogus, and Coffee with Oscar Wilde, represent three fascinating means of exploring how Oscar’s rebirth as a man and author actually takes place. Among the numerous fictional portraits of Oscar Wilde, I have thus chosen to pay particular attention to the depictions that are well anchored in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and which do not, therefore, display a narrative that would merely take place during the fin de siècle, with only period-style people in period costume. By contrast, the three portraits are literal time-travelling narratives that endeavour to bridge the gap between past, present and future.
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