Wilde's the Happy Prince and Other Tales and a House of Pomegranates.

Topics: Walter Pater, Aestheticism, Oscar Wilde Pages: 4 (1492 words) Published: December 11, 2010
Nassaar, Christopher S.
Explicator; Spring2002, Vol. 60 Issue 3, p142, 4p
Literary Criticism
*FAIRY tales
HAPPY Prince & Other Tales, The (Book)
HOUSE of Pomegranates, A (Book)
WILDE, Oscar, 1854-1900
Presents a critical analysis of the fairy tale books 'The Happy Prince and Other Tales' and 'A House of Pomegranates,' by Oscar Wilde. Literary influences of the books; Concern of Wilde on blending Christianity and aestheticism; 全文字数:


In a famous statement to W. B. Yeats, Oscar Wilde called Walter Pater's The Renaissance "my golden book; I never travel anywhere without it."( n1) Nor is Pater's influence limited to a single book. Marius the Epicurean also had a strong impact on Wilde, and during his imprisonment, Pater's Greek Studies, Appreciations, and Imaginary Portraits were among the few books he asked for and received (Letters 399). Pater also had a powerful influence on Wilde's fairy tales, which critics have not so far focused on. The fairy tales of The Happy Prince and Other Tales and A House of Pomegranates reveal many influences--Hans Christian Andersen, Blake, Carlyle--but Pater is a chief influence on many of them. In De Profundis, Wilde wrote of Marius the Epicurean that in it Pater seeks to reconcile the artistic life with the life of religion in the deep, sweet and austere sense of the word. But Marius is little more than a spectator: an ideal spectator indeed, [. . .] yet a spectator merely, and perhaps a little too much occupied with the comeliness of the vessels of the Sanctuary to notice that it is the Sanctuary of Sorrow that he is gazing at. (Letters 476) In many of the fairy tales, Wilde's concern is exactly that of Pater in Marius--to blend Christianity and the artistic life or aestheticism. In others, he is more concerned with the conclusion to The Renaissance, with its insistent advice that we should...

Cited: Pater, Walter. The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry. In The English Literary Decadence: An Anthology. Ed. Christopher S. Nassaar. Lanham: University Press of America, 1999. 1-124.
-----. Marius the Epicurean. London: Macmillan, 1910.
Wilde, Oscar. Complete Works. 3rd Ed. Glasgow: Harper Collins, 1994.
-----. The Letters of Oscar Wilde. Ed. Rupert Hart-Davis. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1962.
By Christopher S. Nassaar, American University of Beirut
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