CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
1.1 Oscar Wilde and His Short Stories
Oscar Wilde(1854-1900),born in Dublin,Ireland,is one of the greatest writers andartists of 19th-century England(Ireland,to be precise,but then ruled by England),knownfor his plays,poems,fairy tales and novels,an icon of aestheticism,a mainstay of theaesthetic movement of the 1880s and a pioneer of the Decadent movement of the 1990s.Including fairy tales,Wilde authored fourteen short stories in his life.In May 1888,heissued a collection of stories entitled The Happy Prince and Other Tales,consisting of“The Happy Prince”,“The Nightingale and the Rose”,“The Selfish Giant”,“TheRemarkable Rocket”and“The Devoted Friend”,the critical reaction to which is prettyfavorable.Walter Pater praised highly for his stories in a letter.In 1889,“The Portrait ofMr.W.H.”was published.It is a classic example of a liberal theory and a homosexualpolemic.With the dawn of the Eighteen Nineties,Oscar Wilde came into his own.InNovember 1891,The House of Pomegranates,Wilde’s second collection of fairy tales wasreleased,which alone is sufficient to establish his reputation as an artist,comprising“TheFisherman and his Soul”,“The Star-Child”,“The Young King”,and“The Birthday of theInfanta”.Although both collections are fairy tales,The House of Pomegranates is waymore sophisticated than The Happy Prince and Other Stories,targeting primarily atupper-class parents.His collection Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime and Other Stories appearedin July 1891,aiming at adult audiences and varying considerably in theme and style.Thiscollection was received with some disappointment.William Sharp observed that thestories“will not add to their author’s reputation”(Beckson 119),while the Graphic foundthe volume“excellent”,but reserved its highest praise for the title story,which was“worthall Mr.Wilde’s serious work put together”(Beckson 9).These short stories demonstratedWilde’s versatility in widely divergent genres.
1.2 Literature Review of Wilde’s Short Stories
The study of aestheticism and Wilde began almost as soon as the subject of studycame to exist.In the last hundred years,research on Wilde has never ceased.According toincomplete statistics,nearly 1,500 books,essays and various related publications on Wilde,in addition to his own works,were published during the first 50 years of the 20th century.Although their number cannot be compared to that of the latter 50 years,it is more thanenough to be daunting.Domestic Wilde studies are dominated by essays,with fewermonographs.The earliest domestic studies of Wilde’s short stories began in 1922,whenZuo-Ren Zhou and Jing-Shen Zhao published“Wilde’s Fairy Tales”and“Wilde the FairyTale Writer”respectively in the Morning Post Supplement,commenting on Wilde and hisfairy tales.Most of the journal articles examining Wilde’s short stories are single-workstudies,focusing on the works in Wilde’s two collections of fairy tales.Translations beganin the 1820s,and to date,all aspects of Wilde’s work have been translated.The earliestforeign monograph on Wilde is Walter Hamilton’s book entitled The Aesthetic Movementin England(1889).This book,as a contemporaneous witness to this movement,has tracedthe intellectual origins of Aestheticism.Given that this thesis adopts a research frameworkthat combines form and theme,accordingly,it will review the major domestic and foreignresearch findings on Wilde’s short stories in terms of both formal and thematic studies,inan attempt to outline the context and significance of this study.
CHAPTER TWO IRONY IN COVERT PROGRESSIONS
2.1 Irony Against the Blindness of the Protagonist
The characterization in this type of covert progression is juxtaposed and contrastswith that in the plot development,which refers to the fact that in some works,the plotdevelopment portrays one kind of character image,while the covert progress