The cultural importance of Oscar Wilde is immense. He is world wide an Iconic figure whose Portrait of Dorian Gray (1890) and The Importance of Being Ernest helped create the Camp sensibility. If you have not read his two most famous works, then try to do so as soon as you can. I first read Portrait of Dorian Gray maybe fifty years ago and I still remember thinking how marvelous it must be to know people who actually talk like that. I never dreamed I would one day reread it in fifty years. I so wish I had a fifty year old blog post to look back on. One of the truest rewards to younger bloggers will, I hope, be this ability. My understanding of Wilde has been greatly informed by my reading of Declan Kiberd's chapter on his work, "Oscar Wilde - The Irishman as Artist" in Declan Kiberd's Inventing Ireland - The Literature of the Modern Nation.
Wilde wrote a lot of short works of fiction, some in the style of fairy tales. I have posted over the years on several of them. "The Star Child" was a great pleasure to read. It is accurate to call it a fairy tale written to be read by children with a moral lesson as its main point. It does manifest some of the main themes of Wilde's more important works (I am not sure that without the main works his fairy tales would still be much read). It deals with the nature of beauty, one could easily look below the surface in this and many other works and ponder why an ugly person is at once seen as evil and a beautiful one kind. Think The Wizard of Oz witches.
One day a poor man sees a star fall and goes to the spot it landed. He finds a beautiful baby and brings him home to his wife who goes crazy and says they don't need another mouth to feed, they already have plenty of children. Never the less they raise him and he is very beautiful. He is very proud of his looks, disdaining all who admire him. One day an ugly old beggar old begger woman asks him for money, he abusively refuses her. He is then transformed into a very ugly person.
I will stop telling the plot here as the story is so much worth reading. One of Wilde's themes is that people are often of several natures.
The basic themes of Wilde are in this story. It would be an excellent class room, ten and above, story and should prompt good conversations.
You can read it here
Please share your favorite Wilde shorter works with us.
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