Collection of children’s stories written in 1888, dealing primarily with love and selfishness. These stories are generally sad, with a moralistic message. The collection includes: The Happy Prince, The Nightingale and the Rose, The Selfish Giant, The Devoted Friend, and The Remarkable Rocket. In Oscar Wilde’s works always convey impressions / criticisms of the order and condition of the people in his time who strangely still relevant to current conditions. The stories are written in an almost liturgical style.
They’re beautiful, they’re dry, they’re preachy, and they’re overly emotionally charged. They’re about charity and compassion and love and selflessness, and they’re just so heavy-handed about it. The Happy Prince is actually quite beautiful, and reads to me like something out of Arabian Nights. I was surprised by the tone and content, because it’s so starkly fixed on compassion and charity, morals and values I don’t normally associate with Wilde, and the end is dramatic and Biblical, but not so much as to make me roll my eyes.
It was acceptable. The Nightingale and the Rose was terrible. And far too realistic. And also justified all the side-eyes I’ve always given the idea of love. It’s about love and sacrifices made me sad too. The Selfish Giant just plain made me angry. These children are trespassing on the Giant’s land. He was absolutely right to put up the NO TRESPASSING SIGN and threaten legal action. It is HIS garden. He can do whatever he wants with it, even let it just sit there.
Those little bastard children would have stayed off his land if they had any manners. GET OFF HIS LAWN YOU LITTLE TROLL. I have to wonder, though, if my feelings here are strongly influenced by the fact that I am an American. Our legal system allows for adverse possession, where if you don’t use your land and someone else comes onto it and puts it to better use, the land is there after a given number of uninterrupted years. In America, we have always prized putting land to use.
In England, historically, there was no such thing as adverse possession: even if land sat unoccupied and untended to for decades, that was just fine, because the owner had a right to do what he wanted with it, even if didn’t want to do anything with it. So I was thinking halfway through the story that maybe Wilde was criticizing that policy and advocating a more American treatment of land use. But then it turned out to be a story about Christ, so that shut me up. The Devoted Friend just made me angry.
It’s basically why I don’t associate with people. People are jack wagons. And I’ve seen the scenario in the story play out far too many times in my life (not involving me) to be anything but jaded about it. The Remarkable Rocket was amazing. I hated the rocket so much, but this story is full of great little turns of phrase that are so typical of the Wilde I always thought I knew. It was a satisfying read if you are given to notions about karma and comeuppance, as I often am. Not always, but often enough.