May 6, 2013

Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde

The Selfish Giant and The Star Child
by Oscar Wilde
illustrated by P. Craig Russell

**  Warning- there are spoilers here! **

Another graphic novel I picked up attracted by the pictures. I knew I would already like it as I've seen this artist before and he's amazing. And I was right. I loved looking at the pictures. The stories, well, I'm not so sure about that. I knew Oscar Wilde wrote short stories, and I've read a collection of them before, but I don't recall these two. I didn't realize he could be so- religious and blatant with the moralizing. "The Selfish Giant" is about a giant with a beautiful garden who doesn't like neighborhood kids playing there. He puts up a wall to keep them out and then his garden is always winter until a small child solicits his sympathy. The giant lets them back in, the garden grows in spring and summer, everyone is happy again. But did the child have to be an incarnation of Jesus? I was rather enjoying the story and that made it just annoying.

The second story, "The Star Child" is about a beautiful child found in the woods and taken in by a woodcutter's family. He grows up into an insolent, mean and spiteful child. When his poor, beggarwoman mother finds him, he rejects  her and gets turned into an ugly creature. Then he wanders around miserably suffering the same insults and bad treatment he had meted out to others, until a cruel magician and a little rabbit teach him lessons of kindness. Then of course he gets his original beauty back and finds out that his beggarwoman mother is actually a queen. This pat ending didn't bother me so much as the last page, where we see the beautiful boy ruling as king, the land all peaceful and happy, and then he dies suddenly and the last line says And he who came after him rulled evilly. What? Now I'm expecting more! It just seemed an odd way to end the story. I wonder if there actually is more I'm missing, as the original was adapted by Russell for this book...

I've several more volumes of P. Craig Russell-illustrated Wilde fairy tales borrowed from the library, will be reading those soon too.

Rating: 3/5 ........ 111 pages, 1992

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2 comments:

Jenny @ Jenny's Books said...

I love Oscar Wilde, but I don't necessarily think that he's at the top of his game with the fairy tales. I also think that when he told these stories to his kids in life, they must have found them...pretty upsetting. Like, right? They're rather upsetting stories.

Jeane said...

No kidding. I just read two more of the illustrated volumes (haven't quite written about them yet) and the biggest impression I came away with was that they seem to all have uncomfortable moments, bitter little twists. Were they really intended for his children? seems more like the irony you'd throw at an adult for amusement.