chapter  5
11 Pages

FROM BAUDELAIRE TO BOWIE

When Sex Pistols Svengali Malcolm McLaren can convince the Irish Times (19 July 1997) that he is planning a movie with Stephen Spielberg about how Wilde discovered rock 'n' roll in America, it is clear that his name has acquired a resonance and currency that even Oscar would have been surprised at. 'Wilde' is now a pop-cultural icon, a multiform signifier of youth, rebelliousness, individualism, sexual freedom, modernity. In order to understand the particular fascination Wilde now exercizes, it is necessary first to look back to some of the historical antecedents of that dandyism which Wilde explored in his writings and acted out in his life, and which is now variously interpreted as marking him so graphically as our contemporary.