Capitalizing on Scandal

After Oscar Wilde’s remarkably public trial and subsequent imprisonment, Decadent authors and publishers faced the difficult task of navigating a literary landscape that marked their art as dangerous. My project will analyze how Leonard Smithers, a publisher and purveyor of rare, exotic, and pornographic books, took advantage of this dangerous decadence to further his own career. I will argue that Smithers was able to become a prominent publisher by capitalizing on the scandal surrounding Wilde’s trial in an effort to demonstrate how scandal shapes and redefines reputations as well as genres in the literary field of late Victorian England.

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