Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde

Reasons to Read Oscar Wilde Fairy Tales

  1. You've been feeling oddly happy lately, and you would like to feel sad instead, in a wistful way.
  2. You love lush, lyrical prose and meditations on the nature of love, beauty, ugliness, sin, and loss.
  3. Your recent reading has been devoid Orientalism and odd body-image issues, and you would really like to change that quickly.
  4. You would like to see young men's bodies described in fiction in a way that doesn't seem exactly sexual but isn't exactly not-sexual either.
  5. You would like a story where someone sacrifices everything and then dies a lonely death, their only consolation the fact that they're a better person than they were before, in that long ago time when they were selfish, self-centered, happy, and not-dead.
Reason number 2 brings me back to Oscar Wilde's stories again and again (that, and the fact that the record I had that played Oscar Wilde's The Selfish Giant was on the turntable a lot when I was a kid), but there's no denying that there's ugly, messy stuff happening under the surface of that beautiful language. Sort of a combo of "it was a strange time" and "the author was a strange person" with nice side helpings of "ok no I can't even don't kill that poor helpless... I can't look... yup, I'm just going to peek... ah, yup, they died. ok then."

The full collection doesn't seem to be on Gutenberg, but you can sample the style and subject matter: The Happy Prince and Other Tales by Oscar Wilde. Or get the whole package from a library: The Poems and Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde.