Oscar Wilde pp 133-173 | Cite as

The Scientist

  • Kimberly J. Stern
Part of the Literary Lives book series (LL)


As “King of the Aesthetes,” Wilde is often presumed to have distinguished his intellectual output from the more objective and concrete methods of the scientist. Even where Wilde invokes scientific thought, scholars have suggested, it serves primarily as a point of contrast or comparison to the knowledge availed by art. Such accounts often presume that science is aligned strictly with classification and the primacy of “factual” knowledge. Yet in Wilde’s time scientific discourse was far more varied in its presentation, methodologies, and associations. This chapter considers Wilde’s interest in science on its own terms—as a means of illuminating the secrets of the natural world through the combined efforts of empirical observation and imagination. Rather than proposing that science provided either a model or a foil for Wilde’s literary experiments, this chapter proposes that Wilde engaged with science as a mode of imaginative and speculative thought.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kimberly J. Stern
    • 1
  1. 1.University of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA

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