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The Poor Bugger’s ToolIrish Modernism, Queer Labor, and Postcolonial History$
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Patrick R. Mullen

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199746699

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199746699.001.0001

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Oscar Wilde and the Greatest Mystery of Modern Literature

Oscar Wilde and the Greatest Mystery of Modern Literature

Aesthetics, Affect, and Value

(p.22) Chapter 1 Oscar Wilde and the Greatest Mystery of Modern Literature
The Poor Bugger’s Tool

Patrick R. Mullen

Oxford University Press

The chapter shows how Oscar Wilde sets in motion the discourses of sexuality, debates about aesthetic and economic value, and theorization of history that the study engages. In particular it reads “The Portrait of Mr. W. H.” and “The Soul of Man under Socialism” in conjunction with Karl Marx’s theory of value and Antonio Negri’s work on affective labor. The chapter argues that Wilde allows us to think about the political and social dimensions of aesthetic value in ways that prefigure Negri’s work on the contemporary production of affective value. The reading of Wilde and Negri is a prime example of the study’s original coordination of Irish and modernist studies, queer theory, and post-Marxist theories of value and the aesthetic.

Keywords:   Oscar Wilde, Antonio Negri, aesthetic value, Portrait of Mr. W.H., Karl Marx, queer sexuality

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