Introduction

Wilde Play by Play: A Selective, Classified International Bibliography of Publications About the Drama of Oscar Wilde is aimed at the everyday scholar or student of Wilde’s drama. Unlike existing works of the same general nature, it is selective, classified, and international. The two most important secondary bibliographies available are Edward H. Mikhail’s Oscar Wilde: an annotated bibliography of criticism (1978) and Thomas A. Mikolyzk’s Oscar Wilde: an annotated bibliography (1993). Both embrace the full range of commentary on Wilde, including the vast number of critical approaches to his fiction, poetry, and essays, and the even larger mass of animadversions into the details of his curious and unfortunate life. Both strive for comprehensiveness of English-language material, however minimal, and include many foreign-language entries as well. But only Mikhail’s volume has separate sections for individual works of Wilde, and those sections are somewhat perversely limited to reviews. Users in search of more ample fare are left to scan the text or scour the index, as they must also do with Mikolyzk’s. Moreover, neither volume “analyzes” book-length studies of Wilde into the sections that deal with individual works, arguably the most crucial commentary of all. Needless to say, these bibliographies have been invaluable as sources to select from and classify, but they are inadequate as well as inconvenient for scholars and students interested mainly in Wilde as a dramatist.

The present compilation, offering greater coverage combined with greater selectivity, is designed for these users. It not only brings the record of commentary up to date by drawing upon the bibliographical sources that extend beyond Mikolyzk’s limit (notably those on Internet), but also revisits previously available sources, from standard library tools to foreign research library holdings, in an effort to supplement, modify, and glean the references already available for material on Wilde’s drama. The most significant limiting factor is the focus on his dramatic and theatrical career and the background vital for their comprehension, but qualitative measures have also been applied. My vague but workable standard of selection is that every entry should point to something “substantial” so that users will not be disappointed when they track down the ones that look promising.

What should be the most welcome feature of the present bibliography is that it offers the convenience of user-friendly classification. The most obvious product of this policy is indicated in the title: Wilde Play by Play. Under all of his dramatic works are listed the articles and sections in books (including the many studies of Wilde in all Roman-alphabet languages) that passed the selection standard. Thus the user has instant access to virtually all of the 175 or so “substantial” discussions of the most frequently written-about Wilde play—no, not The Importance of Being Earnest but Salome; Earnest trails by about twenty—with the full bibliographical description for each entry. (The one exception to the latter is articles printed in collections of essays about Wilde (see the section with this title); these steer you to the appropriate volume with the formula “pages xx-xx in Gagnier [or whatever].”

The uncomplicated topical arrangement I have adopted reflects the focus on the dramatic career of Wilde. Besides the inevitable reference and general sections, there are highly selective sections for biographical and theatrical commentaries, and one entitled “Wilde as critic and theorist.” The commentaries on individual plays—listed in alphabetical order—follow, themselves alphabetically arranged.

Two inescapable shortcoming of the present work must be acknowledged so that the user will not by disappointed by mistaken expectations: (1) The term “international” in my title implies somewhat more than the reality: to find commentaries in non-Roman-alphabet languages users will have to go elsewhere, notably to the current Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature, Internet databases such as WorldCat, the MLA International Bibliography, and the International Bibliography of Periodical Literature (IBZ), and the online catalogs of research libraries. I also leave dissertations to others. (2) It was beyond my present powers to verify a large proportion of the entries in the bibliography—far from  the 98% I attained for volume two of Modern Drama Scholarship and Criticism (see “Bibliography and Reference Works” below). That work—and its predecessor—took an enormous amount of time and mobility that I simply could not manage in my advanced retirement. My current efforts at verification were restricted to whatever I could glean from  Internet and the collections of my own University’s library and nearby Cornell’s—along with unconscionable exploitation of interlibrary loan services. Nevertheless, I did succeed in amending many incomplete and inaccurate references drawn from other sources. In turn, I strongly urge users to inform me of whatever corrections and additions they come across so that I can incorporate them as they arrive.

The format used in this compilation generally conforms to the one I employed in Modern Drama Scholarship and Criticism. In an attempt to gain greater intelligibility and economy than standard American practice offers, techniques common in library catalogs and European bibliographies have been grafted upon basic American conventions, and others have been devised to enhance clarity without wasting space. It has been a relief, however, to abandon the un-user-friendly presence of innumerable abbreviations, particularly of journal titles (none of which are abbreviated). A quick scan of the list below should make it virtually unnecessary to consult it again. The only type of book entry that may require explanation derives from  my attempt to list whatever previously published articles or sections of books were reprinted, revised, or otherwise incorporated into a given book (as far as I could determine), thus clarifying for users which of these can be ignored. One clear-cut example should suffice to illustrate this as well as the general format:

Ganz, Arthur F. ‘The divided self in the society comedies of Oscar Wilde.’ Pp 481-90 in Shiv K. Kumar, ed. British Victorian literature: recent evaluations. NY: NY UP, 1969 (from Modern Drama 3 1960 16-23); repr. on pp 126-34 in Tydeman

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