Wilde Identifications: Queering the Sexual and the National in the Work of Eve Langley


Langley undoubtedly presents difficulties, not least in the sticky, inextricable link between her own life, its troubled gender identity, incarceration in a mental health institution in New Zealand, the deed-poll name change to Oscar Wilde, her reclusive end in isolation in the Blue Mountains, and her textual record of her protagonist Steve's itinerant wanderings through Gippsland and New South Wales in the 1920s. Yet it is exactly this complex relationship of life-in-text and text-in-life that poses such profound questions about identity, gender, sexual, Australian, human, and makes Langley's work so important within the body of Australian literature. In recording the life and times of cross-dressing itinerant land-worker Steve in a series of ten novels produced from the late 1940s onwards, Langley narrativises both early twentieth-century Australian identity and complex dysphoric versions of sexual and gender identities.

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Published 1 October 2002 in Volume 20 No. 4. Subjects: Cultural & national identity, Gender - Literary portrayal, Sexuality & sexual identity, Eve Langley.

Cite as: Winning, Joanne. ‘Wilde Identifications: Queering the Sexual and the National in the Work of Eve Langley.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 20, no. 4, 2002, doi: 10.20314/als.0baf75ce6c.