Original Copy:

Neo-Victorian Versions of Oscar Wilde’s ‘Voice’


  • Helen Davies Leeds Metropolitan University


Peter Ackroyd, copy, Maggi Hambling, originality, postmodern, repetition, Will Self, voice, Oscar Wilde


This article considers the challenge that neo-Victorian versions of Oscar Wilde's 'voice' pose to the relationship between 'original' and 'copy'. I argue that the concept of 'voice' complicates Jean Baudrillard's assessment of the loss of the 'original' in postmodern culture, as 'voice' can be conceptualised as always already absent; voices can be understood as continuous processes of reconstruction. Establishing the significance of 'voice' in the cultural afterlife of Oscar Wilde, I focus on Peter Ackroyd's The Last Testament of Oscar Wilde (1983) and Will Self's Dorian: An Imitation (2002) to demonstrate that neo-Victorian 'copies' of Wilde's 'original' voice engage with the tension between loss and recreation which often remains unquestioned in neo-Victorian criticism's invocation of the concept of 'voice'.