Wilde words: The aesthetics of crime and the play of genre in E. W. Hornung's Raffles stories

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

E. W. Hornung's Raffles stories bring together several key nineteenth-century cultural currents, including major changes in emerging genres and the nature of the fin-de-siècle marketplace. They were a great success as popular entertainment, but they also deserve sustained critical attention because of the quality of the writing at a less ephemeral level than the merely escapist. Ludic, allusive and metafictive, the stories benefit by being read with and against influential nineteenth-century texts—in particular Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray—in terms of their revisionist interplay with the idea of the aesthetic “hero” and a subversive relationship to aestheticism. My analysis is written within, and indebted to, the changing nature of Victorian studies, in which popular fiction is being recognized as fundamental to the range and cultural significance of the literature of the nineteenth century. Neglected or “minor” writers were significant agents of change and experimentation within a period that thrived on the buying power (and seemingly insatiable textual appetite) of ordinary readers and on the more rarefied energies of experimentation and hybrid forms.

LanguageEnglish
Pages654-669
Number of pages16
JournalEnglish Studies
Volume96
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2015

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genre
aesthetics
nineteenth century
offense
popular fiction
entertainment
writer
energy
Aesthetics
Crime
Experimentation
literature
Reader
Picture of Dorian Gray
Fundamental
Oscar Wilde
Escapist
Appetite
Aestheticism
Victorian Studies

Cite this

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Wilde words : The aesthetics of crime and the play of genre in E. W. Hornung's Raffles stories. / O'Brien, Lee.

In: English Studies, Vol. 96, No. 6, 18.08.2015, p. 654-669.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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