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Title: Gautier, Wilde, and the visual arts : artistic media and movement
Author: Bitoun, Claire
ISNI:       0000 0004 7430 738X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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In nineteenth-century literary studies and histories, Théophile Gautier (1811-1872) is still largely remembered as the instigator of the doctrine of Art for Art's Sake, mostly because of his novel Mademoiselle de Maupin (1835) and its controversial preface. This recognition is usually accompanied by a retrospective appreciation of Gautier's work in light of the more famous authors who succeeded him and developed some of the precepts of the doctrine, such as Baudelaire. This thesis is a comparative study of Gautier and Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) as the two main exponents of the doctrine of Art for Art's Sake respectively in France and Britain. While comparisons between Gautier and Baudelaire have tended to highlight the superiority of the latter, a comparison with Wilde allows Gautier to be seen and understood in his own terms, and simultaneously casts a new light on Wilde's contribution to the development of the doctrine. My study is the first to examine the works of the two authors comparatively from the vantage point of their aesthetic theories. I argue that in order better to assess their contribution, it is necessary to start with an analysis of their experimentations with literary form. The overall aim of the thesis is to re-evaluate their fictional works which, as a result of their commitment to the doctrine, are often seen as lacking in depth and content, and as being too descriptive and decorative. The central argument is that the very decorative form of their works should be seen as the starting point of an ambitious reflection on literature, its aims and its relation to other artistic media, the visual arts in particular.
Supervisor: Evangelista, Stefano ; McGuinness, Patrick Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Aestheticism ; English literature ; nineteenth-century France ; French literature ; literature and the visual arts ; Wilde ; decadence ; Gautier