restricted access The Picture of Charles Bon: Oscar Wilde's Trip through Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha

In this essay, I argue that Oscar Wilde's trip through the "ruined" South reinforced his nascent preoccupation with the relationship between beauty and decay, a preoccupation that informed his most iconic creation, Dorian Gray: the beautiful aristocrat in whom physical decline and Aestheticism merge. I argue that Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890) is a novel whose gothicism was in part born of the same aesthetics of ruin as William Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! (1936), and demonstrate that in Wildean dandyism (as expressed through both Wilde's self-aestheticization and his prose) Faulkner recognized a model through which to critique the multiple and contradictory performances of Southern aristocracy. By first directly invoking Wilde and then reworking the temptation scene in Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890), Faulkner reinterprets dandyism for the South­­casting the dandy as a culturally-perceived monster who registers the threat that miscegenation and deviant sexuality pose to the postbellum South.