Information about the author:
Tatiana G. Chesnokova
Tatiana G. Chesnokova, PhD in Philology, Senior Researcher, A.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Povarskaya 25 a, 121069 Moscow, Russia.
ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9326-4520
The variety of literary links and the lines of succession connecting Wilde’s comedies with the past and the future seem to be one of the truisms of Wildean studies. On the level of their formal structure Wilde’s comedies were influenced, in particular, by the English 17–18 centuries’ comedy of manners as well as the 19 century melodrama (including its manifestations in the works of the authors associated with the so-called “wellmade play”). Melodramatic elements in Wilde’s dramatic oeuvres are balanced (and partly neutralised) by those of “pure” comedy, while in the last (and the most brilliant) of his plays of the 1890s ― “The Importance of Being Earnest” ― they totally fade away. The features of both “witty” comedy of manners and sentimentally coloured melodrama, being repeatedly found in Wilde’s “society” drama, become still more dazzling if one compares his chosen comedies with the texts representative of each of the named genre models and containing the complex of motifs later used by Wilde in one of his “society” plays. In the article the above mentioned task is solved through comparative studies of Wildean comedy “Lady Windermere’s Fan” and the drama by V. Sardou “Odette”, linked with the former by shared motifs, as well as of the comedies by H. Fielding “The Modern Husband” and Wilde “An Ideal Husband” also demonstrating some plot parallels. The comparison contributes to the clarification of the role played by comedy and melodrama (especially in their interrelation) in the process of realization of the Wildean aestheticism artistic program in his works of the early and mid-1890s.