Michael Patrick Gillespie, Oscar Wilde and the Poetics of Ambiguity University Press of Florida, 1996
Department of Literature and Modern Languages
Irish Literary Supplement
This is a welcome addition to the recent studies of Wilde’s works, including Richard Pine’s The Thief of Reason: Oscar Wilde and Modern Ireland (reviewed in ILS 15, 2) and Declan Kiberd’s insightful discussion of the author in Inventing Ireland. It also comes at at time when Wilde’s plays (in addition to the perennial favorite, The Importance of Being Earnest) have seen new productions in London and New York, Simon Callow is acting in Micheal MacLiammoir’s The Importance of Being Oscar and anew film dealing with Oscar’s life is in the works. A little more than 100 years after his disastrous fall, Wilde is receiving the attention he so much desired. Unlike Kiberd’s and Pine’s treatments of the author, however, Gillespie focuses on neither Oscar’s “Irishness” nor his homosexuality. Instead, his proclaimed intention is a critical approach to the major works (excluding the poetry, essays and most short stories) based on reader response theory. Situating these works within their historical and cultural contexts, Gillespie seeks to present their “interpretive multiplicities” without privileging any particular interpretation. He states, “We may give a particular response provisional primacy, but we cannot... erase the presence of all the others from our consciousness” (14). “Both/and,” rather than “either/or,” becomes the operative dynamic for most of the works under discussion, at least until his imprisonment, when he sees Wilde’s voice being reduced to a monotone.
Doan, J. E. (1997). Michael Patrick Gillespie, Oscar Wilde and the Poetics of Ambiguity University Press of Florida, 1996. Irish Literary Supplement, 16 (2) Retrieved from https://nsuworks.nova.edu/shss_facarticles/450