Oscar Wilde "A House of Pomegranates"

Topics: Fairy tale, Oscar Wilde, Walter Pater Pages: 6 (2203 words) Published: May 8, 2013
Oscar Wilde wrote himself into history as a sharp and pungent writer and an exceptional personality with a suitable epigram at hand for every occasion. He is, though, perhaps most well-known for his infamous relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas, which resulted in Wilde being sentenced to two years of hard labor for homosexual offences. However, Wilde left to the world not only the fascinating story of his own life, but also a number of literary works in a variety of genres, both fictional and non-fictional. Oscar Wilde was usually presented as a disruptive writer, as an amoral aesthete and an enemy of the Victorian social and sexual values. He was avoided by the Victorian society for his flamboyant behavior and his sexuality. Oscar Wilde's takeoff of his career and, his shaping of his characteristic style of works could be both considered originating from his fairy tales. The publication of these fairy tales must have come as a surprise to those who had known him only as the notorious aesthete, an author of copyist poems and sentimental dramas. It was not until his first collection of fairy tales had come out that he was regarded as an influential author. The first publication of his collection of fairy tales “The Happy Prince and other tales” in 1888 received acceptance from the critics. Oscar was being encouraged to send copies to such notable personas as Gladstone, Ruskin and Pater. Touched by the hearty reactions, he then, three years later preceded to publish a second collection “A House of Pomegranates”. Wilde’s fairy tales achieved great success, in German-speaking countries these two collections appeared in more than twenty different translations between 1902 and 1976. This success may be linked to the late nineteen twenties, just after the second World War, when many readers, after all tribulations, would have felt the need for a dream world filled with beauty and serenity, a world where good conquers evil. Also a big part of his success was due to the fact that his fairy tales were very favorable in schools. Although the two collections of fairy tales have claimed some important critical attention, they still are not generally considered among his major works. The reason, simply being, that critics do not know what to make of them. Some of Wilde’s other works, such as “The Portrait of Dorian Gray” attracted more attention for the demonstration of amoral behavior and rebellion against the Victorian society. In a strange way “The Happy Prince and other tales”, “A House of Pomegranates” seem completely different. A closer analysis of a few examples from Wilde's tales depicts not a lost and depraved soul, but rather a virtuous man hoping for the utopian society he visualizes. Before analyzing specific aspects of his fairy tales, it is important to understand the way Wilde plays the role of a storyteller (as opposed to his more typical role as social critic, politician, or aesthetician) and uses the fairy tale genre for his own purposes in comparison to its traditional usage. The fairy tale is generally assumed to be a child's medium, often used to support religious ideas and teach children appropriate behavior. However, Wilde was quick to point out that “Now in building this House of Pomegranates I had about as much intension of pleasing the British child, as I had to please the British public” (Beckson, K.E. OW: The Critical Heritage, p.113) Like many other Victorian authors experimenting with the literary fairy tale during this period, Wilde was not trying to entertain or educate children but rather to put across both individual and social protest and personal notions of alternative worlds. He disowned the traditional model of a fairy tale, that are written in simple language with only good or bad characters, the themes of punishing the bad and praising the good. He invented story endings where good deeds only lead to tragedy. He did so to reveal the cruelty and ugliness in the real world, created roles with...
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