Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Complete Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde

This is actually the first time I've read Oscar Wilde. I started The Picture of Dorian Gray a long time ago, but never finished it for some reason. His compete fairy tales were wonderful! I loved them all. They were all quite unique, but revisited common themes seen in children's fairy tales. The moral lessons were the same.

The book is broken up into two separate collections. The first is called The Happy Prince and the second is A House of Pomegranates. Wilde must have loved pomegranates as I think they are mentioned in nearly every fairy tale in the book.

The Happy Prince consists of 5 tales:

The Happy Prince: A statue of a prince asks a bird friend to deliver precious gems on his body to people who are in need in the town so that they may survive and in turn is deemed to be no longer beautiful.

The Nightingale and the Rose: A Nightingale makes the ultimate sacrifice in the form of a song so that a a boy may win the heart of a maiden.

The Selfish Giant: A grumpy giant closes his courtyard off to children so Spring refuses to come back leaving Winter to constantly blunder him. This one has a very bizarre ending in my opinion.

The Devoted Friend: A friend accepts a small favor and is expected to do entirely too much in return.

The Remarkable Rocket: A rocket (firecracker) who is quite arrogant ends up being the bottom of the bunch.

and A House of Pomegranates consists of 4 tales:

The Young King: A King has a series of dreams which lead him to no longer want the royal treatment once he sees what it costs others.

The Birthday of the Infanta: A dwarf who performs for the Infanta on her birthday becomes obsessively in love with her and is disillusioned on his way to finding her.

The Fisherman and His Soul: A fisherman gives his soul to be with a mermaid and learns the hard way the price that he has paid for doing so.

The Star-Child: A Child falls from the sky, is taken in by a family, and grows to have a horrible attitude. When he tries to redeem himself, he finds that it may be too late to do so.

Wilde's writing was remarkable and a pleasure to read. Fairy tales from this era are my favorite! The tone, the setting, and above all, the language is just perfect. The English language was at the perfect point for fairy tales at that time. Many of the stories had Christian themes to them, something that I didn't expect from Wilde. I found that interesting. This is definitely a collection that I hope to one day be able to read to my own children as they fall to sleep. Beautiful stories with classic lessons.


Court said...

My copy of Dorian Gray has The Happy Prince and The Birthday of the Infanta in it, and I quite enjoyed those stories.... and I've had an illustrated copy of The Selfish Giant since I was a kid. I love the way Wilde writes; it's so beautiful. (You really should read Dorian Gray, it's quite good.)

Chris said...

I'd love to get back to Dorian Gray. Definitely will. I'd love to see an illustrated copy of The Selfish Giant!

Kailana said...

I did not know this book existed. I am going to have to check it out.

Chris said...

It was great Kailana! I just happened to find it on the shelves at the bookstore. Wilde wrote some beautiful fairy tales.

Stephanie said...

Oh, I SO have to read this!! The Picture of Dorian Gray is one of my all-time favorites!! I heart Oscar Wilde.

I haven't read this one though. I really need to stop reading your blog. I keep ADDING books to the TBR instead of taking them off!

Chris said...

Steph, Blogs tend to be dangerous like that. Don't stop reading though! LOL, I know what you mean though. My TBR list has multiplied itself numerous times since I entered blog land. It's a scary thing. This one's a short read at least! Just a little over 200 pgs.

Kim said...

The Happy Prince and The Nightingale and the Rose have been favorites of mine since fourth grade (thank you Mrs. O'Brien!) though I've never seen them in that collection.

Something else to keep an eye out for ^^.

Chris said...

Kim, those were two of my favorites in this collection. His fairy tales were great. I think you'd like them all. Such a great writer!

Literacy-chic said...

You probably got stuck in the middle of that "being dragged down by an evil book" chapter--at least, that's the slow part in DG! I love the fairy tales, myself! Couldn't ever get into his plays, though... They just seemed silly. In a frivolous, uptight kind of way. His criticism is actually more entertaining than the plays in my opinion. I love some of his poetry, too, but it's very different. In fact, when you read all of the various genres in which he wrote, you appreciate how versatile a writer he really was! (Oh, I guess Salome is one of his plays! That's worth a read. Get the Dover edition with the Aubrey Beardsley illustrations. I can't stand Beardsley, but the illustrations go along with the text--they're kind of inseparable.)

Chris said...

N, He certainly seems the versatile writer! The man seems to have gone into a little bit of every form of writing there was! The only reason I didn't finish Dorian Gray was because Megan took her copy back :p

Nymeth said...

When I was very little, I saw an animated version of "The Nightingale and the Rose" on TV. I remember it vividly - I think it was the first time a cartoon made me cry my eyes out. I must have been 4 or 5. I remember the image of the nightingale pressing itself against the thorn very clearly. I thought it was one of the saddest, and yet most beautiful, in an odd way, things I had ever seen.

I never again forgot that story, but it was only 2 or 3 years ago that I discovered that it was one of Wilde's fairy tales. Since then, I have read a few others in anthologies, but not the whole collection. I really need to pick it up one of these days.

Lovely review.

Quixotic said...

I love Wilde's writing, and enjoy reading Dorian Gray. I was previously unaware of this book though, so will be adding it to The List!

Fence said...

The Happy Prince has been one of my favourite short stories for years. Don't remember when I first read it.

Wilde is such a fantastic writer, yet I haven't read half, or even a quarter of what he has written.

Bellezza said...

I am passionate about Oscar Wilde, yet I never knew he wrote fairy tales! Thanks for the recommendation.

Carl V. said...

Oscar Wilde is a fantastic author. I have not read his fairy tales, but his plays, especially The Importance of Being Earnest and An Ideal Husband are among my favorites. He had such a wonderful command of language and used it with a wit and power that are uniquely his.

Chris said...

Nymeth, An animated version of this?! OOH, I'd love to see that. That's how I felt about many of his tales...sad, but beautiful. Well worth the read.

Quix, They were great. You'd love them. Very touching.

Fence, I loved The Happy Prince as well. Wilde was an incredible writer. I already this in another comment but it deserves repeating, he could write anything! And he did it all so well!

Bellezza, I think you'd love these. They're beautiful!

Carl, These are right up your alley. If you like Wilde, I wouldn't doubt if these would turn into your favorites of his work. They're great.

Rhinoa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rhinoa said...

The Happy Prince was one of my favourite fairy tales growing up. My mum used to tell us stories of King Arthur and various fairy tales (not read from a book, just her memory of them) and it always stuck with me.