Abstract

Oscar Wilde’s aesthetics and his Catholicism bear important—if often unnoticed—connections. When read through recent revisions of secularization theory, Wilde’s aestheticism in “The Decay of Lying” (1889) and “The Critic as Artist” (1890) reveals its Catholic underpinnings in its hostility to artistic modes that reject transcendence and treat nature and life as purely immanent, self-enclosed spheres of meaning. Here, Wilde resists reductive understandings of goodness and truth prominent in Victorian England and in secular modernity more generally. Wilde’s Catholic proclivities also contribute to an anti-essentialist account of truth that draws, paradoxically, from the performativity of Catholic liturgy.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1522-9270
Print ISSN
0039-3657
Pages
pp. 865-886
Launched on MUSE
2017-12-01
Open Access
No
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