ABSTRACT

“The world is my home.” With these five words Oscar Wilde succinctly defined his fin-de-siècle cosmopolitanism. As an intriguing example of this cosmopolitanism, The Picture of Dorian Gray celebrates an aesthetic detached from locality and morality, and criticizes contemporaneous British Philistinism. By translating and rewriting Dorian Gray as Du Liankui (杜連魁), Taiwanese architect-novelist Wang Dahong transformed the Wildean fin-de-siècle aesthetic cosmopolitanism, replacing it with his own cosmopolitan and metropolitan visions. Wang’s manipulative modification of the novel’s tempo-spatial settings serves as a key to this transformation: Wilde’s focus on the London-Paris relationship in the source text is ingeniously rendered into Taipei’s relationships with other cities, including New York, Washington, San Francisco, and Paris. Wang’s rewriting can be seen as the product of a kind of global imagination emphasizing the superiority of cosmopolitan urban aesthetics, its main tenet being that Taiwanese provincialism should be replaced by an openness, a desire to learn from other cultures. Though Wilde’s aesthetic cosmopolitanism is lost in the process of Wang’s rewriting, the translation gives us what the original novel could not have possibly provided—an urban cosmopolitanism which predicts the problems of today’s Taipei. 

KEYWORDS:Fin-de-siècle, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Du Liankui, translation as rewriting, aesthetic cosmopolitanism, London/Paris relationship, the East/West districts in Taipei