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Release: April 25, 1995
Contact: Jacquelyn Savani (609/258-5729)

Firestone Library Goes Wilde

Princeton, N.J.--The work, life and times of Oscar Wilde will take
center stage at Princeton University's Firestone Library in an
exhibition entitled "Oscar Wilde: A Writer for the Nineties,"
opening May 1. To commemorate the centenary of two Wilde plays,
The Importance of Being Earnest and An Ideal Husband, as well
as of the trials which led to his imprisonment for sodomy, the
exhibition focuses on Wilde as a man of the theatre and a key
figure in the rethinking of gender definition.

The exhibition features the Department of Rare Books and Special
Collections's rich holdings in Wilde letters and first editions,
especially those found in the Robert H. Taylor Collection, as well
as drawings, books and letters on loan from the collection of Mark
Samuels Lasner. Through the juxtaposition of Wildean material and
other cultural artifacts from the 1890s--including drawings by
Aubrey Beardsley and Max Beerbohm--co-curators Michael Cadden and
Mary Ann Jensen investigate Wilde's role in the redefinition of
art and gender that marked the period.

In a letter addressed to Lord Alfred Douglas, the lover whose
father was responsible for Wilde's arrest and conviction, the
playwright claimed that he was "a man who stood in symbolic
relations to the art and culture of [his] age." This exhibition
takes him at his word, presenting him as a man of both the 1890s
and our own fin de siecle.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Cadden, who is director of
Princeton's Program in Theatre and Dance, will present a public
lecture entitled "Policing Oscar Wilde" on Sunday, April 30, at
4:00 p.m. in 101 McCormick Hall on the Princeton campus.

"Oscar Wilde: A Writer for the Nineties" opens at the Main
Exhibition Gallery, Firestone Library, Princeton University, on
May 1, 1995, and will remain on view through Friday, Sept. 1,
1995. The gallery is open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00
p.m. on weekdays and noon to 5:00 p.m. on weekends. There is no
charge for admission.