Investigates Wilde's valorization of literature as one of the decorative arts
Oscar Wilde's Decorated Books addresses Wilde's obsession with the visual appearance or "look" of his published writings. It examines the role played by graphic designers in the production of Wilde's writings and demonstrates how marginal and decorative elements of the printed book affect interpretation.
Nicholas Frankel approaches Wilde's writings as graphical or "printed" phenomena that reveal their significance through the beautiful and elaborate decorations with which they were published in Wilde's own lifetime. With extensive reference to and exposition on Wilde's theoretical writings and letters, the author shows that, far from being marginal elements of the literary text, these decorative devices were central to Wilde's understanding of his own writings as well as to his "aesthetic" theory of language. Extensive illustrations support Frankel's arguments.
While its principal appeal will be to students of Oscar Wilde and the Victorian fin-de-siècle, this book will also appeal to textual and literary scholars, art historians, and linguistic philosophers interested in the graphical nature of the linguistic sign.
Nicholas Frankel is Assistant Professor of English, Virginia Commonwealth University.