Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Friday, January 14, 2011

"The Sphinx Without a Secret" by Oscar Wilde

"The Sphinx Without a Secret" by Oscar Wilde (1891, 6 pages)

 Oscar Wilde (1854-1900, Dublin, Ireland) is best known for The Portrait of Dorian Gray.   He also wrote a number of delightful short stories. I have already posted on three of Wilde's short works  so I will keep this post quite brief

 "The Sphinx Without a Secret" was first published in a collection of Wilde's stories that he edited in 1891, Lord Saville's Crimes and Other Stories.    Most of Wilde's work seems to focus on lower level members of British aristocracy.   His prose style is pleasant  and a bit unique.

As the story opens Lord Murchison's friend asks him what is troubling him.   It turns out he he disturbed by something he found out about a woman he loved and intended to marry but who is now, alas, dead.    The woman was always very secretive about how she spent her days  (No one seems to work in the world of Wilde, which is OK!)    He follows her one day and sees her go into a boarding house and stay there several hours.    Of course he wants to know what she is doing in there but before he can really ask her she dies.  

I think this story is kind of a satire of short stories that rely on a big shock surprise at the end.   As I discovered along with Lord Murchinson why she went to the boarding house I was at first befuddled then delighted by the sheer cleverness of Wilde.  

"The Sphinx Without a Secret" can be read online .

If you like the prose style of Wilde then I think you will like this story.

Mel u


Teacher/Learner said...

I absolutely love Oscar Wilde, especially The Importance of Being Earnest, which is still very funny to read today. I get a big kick out of seeing his quotations on book blog widgets :)

Anonymous said...

I have read about this story a few times. I must check if it is in the collection I have at home.
I'm soon going to see Lady Windermere's Fan at the theatre. Can't wait!

lightersskeem said...

This short story is so touchy. It alludes to mystery and enigma. One of Wilde's quotations: "the artist is the creator of beautiful things " and "all art is quite useless",this relates so much in this short story amazing and i love it!