Saturday, March 10, 2012

eReadings 9

Selected Prose of Oscar Wilde

This collection of essays, articles, and stories by Oscar Wilde was put together by an admirer, seemingly to counteract the various negative public opinions of him which came about and preceded his premature death. There is no explanation of any of that in this work, so consult Wikipedia or other sources for the details.

He was an infamous character in late 19th century Britain, with a flamboyant lifestyle and sharp tongue. He had been a top student at Oxford, and made a name for himself there, and later, with his most famous work being for plays such as "The Importance of Being Earnest".

As you begin this collection, you quickly get a sense of his wit and the sharpness of his tongue as he derides one person after another. As you read along, you see in contrast his exuberance about things he holds in high esteem, one being the supremacy of literature over all kinds of other artistic media, such as painting or music.

Some of the included material are his own attempts at prosaic stories, so there is a mix of critical commentary and his own creative output.

Mr. Wilde was by reputation a very entertaining person to be with or even just observe, based on what one can read about him, and one certainly gets a sense of his wit in this collection. At the same time, while he certainly was skilled at turning a phrase, there seems to me a shallowness to his own works, so that they lack the depth of character and story development that he admires in others.

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