November 28th, 2007

earthsea

November Books 11) The Happy Prince

11) The Happy Prince and Other Stories, by Oscar Wilde

Have had this ebook from FictionWise sitting on my Blackberry for ages, but airport / waiting for meetings to happen gave me the incentive to go through it. I was familiar with two of the stories, The Happy Prince and The Selfish Giant, from children's anthologies, but the others (The Nightingale And The Rose, The Devoted Friend and The Remarkable Rocket) were all new to me.

I'm not actually certain that I would give these stories to a child to read - they are all so very sad. The one with the happiest ending is The Selfish Giant, and even then he dies, if not quite as tragically as the protagonists of the other stories! Knowing what I do about Wilde's own life and death, I was on the lookout for reflections in the stories: but in fact what there is is rather surprising - The Selfish Giant is an explicitly Christian allegory, and The Remarkable Rocket, full of his own pretension, arrogance and snobbery, eventually terminally expends his considerable talents and energies in such a way that nobody notices.

These are uncomfortable stories, and should only be read by children (and perhaps even adults) under strict supervision.