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Complete Short Fiction

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  941 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Fairy tales, ghost stories, detective fiction and comedies of manners - the stories collected in this volume made Oscar Wilde's name as a writer of fiction, showing breathtaking dexterity in a wide range of literary styles. Victorian moral justice is comically inverted in 'Lord Arthur Savile's Crime' and 'The Canterville Ghost', and society's materialism comes under sharp, ...more
Paperback, 280 pages
Published April 29th 2003 by Penguin Classics (first published February 27th 2003)
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Community Reviews

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Ben Loory
Mar 22, 2009 Ben Loory rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ben by: mo
i don't think i've ever used the word "exquisite" before, especially in relation to anyone's writing, but the writing in these stories really is exquisite. the stories themselves are flawlessly conceived and executed; every other line a perfect quotable paradox. my only complaint is that it all got a little claustrophobic after all. so perfect, so finely-wrought, so heartbreakingly sad, so clever... it was all just a little bit too just-so. there are no car chases, no fistfights, no people yelli ...more
Although, I prefer Wilde's plays over his stories, this is a splendid collection of Wilde's short fiction. The stories written for children are my most favourite ones. They all are brilliantly crafted and achingly sweet, ending on a rather melancholy note. As you would expect from children stories, they all contain some kind of moral lessons, most of them promoting Christian values of self-sacrifice, charity, love and friendship. Often I had my heart in my mouth whenever a beautiful phrase or sc ...more
In most of his fairy tales and short stories Oscar Wilde attempted a seriousness, even a sobriety, that did not quite jell with the sardonic, witty persona he was developing. My theory on the nature of Wilde's tragedy is that his persona gained inner reality, as opposed to being merely a veneer to amuse and increase sales of his books, while the serious values suffered atrophy.

The serious values are conveyed in a few of the fairy tales, particularly "The Happy Prince" and "The Rose and the Night
I’ve always had a suspicion that Oscar Wilde is a prime example of style over substance. Yes the writing is arch and clever, the epigrams are well crafted and plentiful – but is there really anything else there? Is his fiction merely just an excuse for Oscar to show off his brilliant intelligence and keen wit? Is there much else going on behind that?

It’s something I raise knowing I’ll never reach a satisfactory answer, but this collection does contain examples for both the defence and the prose
This volume contains all of Oscar Wilde's shorter works, including his fairy tales, which I had already read. The rest of it was new to me, although frankly there wasn't that much of it. The fairy tales are quite lovely though, by turns lyrical and cynical. They always seem to be heading the way most fairy tales do, but then there's a sharp and bitter twist, such as in "The Nightingale and the Rose". The nightingale's sacrifice and suffering is all for nothing because of a flighty young woman.

I like Oscar Wilde based on Dorian Gray, so I figured I'd try some more of his work. I really enjoyed "The Happy Prince," "The Nightingale and the Rose," "The Birthday of the Infanta," "The Fisherman and his Soul," and "Lord Arthur Savile's Crime." Others (like "The Portrait of Mr. W. H.") had to be trudged through.

Most of these are morality tales, and most of them include elements of fable (at least, talking animals or objects). Wilde sure follows the rule of three (especially in "The Fisherman
This is a great collection of stories exploring the moral ambiguities of existence. There are elements of fantasy, satire, humour, and horrors in this collection – truly, no two stories are alike. One of the things that surprised me most about this collection was the obvious preoccupation with religious themes and beliefs that is prevalent in over half of the stories in this selection. The stories in this book are from Wilde’s early attempts at becoming a professional writer and it must be said ...more
My first exposure to Wilde was a book of five short stories including "The Happy Prince", "The Birthday of the Infanta", "The Remarkable Rocket", the garden of the giant one with the heavy Jesus imagery, and "The Nightingale and the Rose". I'd read these fairly early in my life, and it was one of the enduring books of my childhood. After a brief disillusionment with teenage love (heh) I returned to "The Nightingale and the Rose" and clasped it to my heart, still in love with the idea of love and ...more
Alexander Arsov
Oscar Wilde

Complete Short Fiction

Penguin Classics, Paperback, 2003.

8vo. xxxvi, 280 pp. Edited with an Introduction [x-xxxi] and Notes [pp. 259-280] by Ian Small.

First published thus, 1994.
Reprinted with minor revisions, 2003.


Further Reading
A Note on the Texts

The Happy Prince and Other Tales (1888)
The Happy Prince
The Nightingale and the Rose
The Selfish Giant
The Devoted Friend
The Remarkable Rocket

The Portrait of Mr. W. H. (1889)

A House of Pomegranates (1891)
The Young
Oh, lovely! I quite adore Oscar Wilde's pretty language, especially since I read The Picture of Dorian Gray (although I'd been badly disturbed by the content for some time, but I suppose that's the point).

What discomforted me in this particular book of short fiction is the repeated biblical references. I disagreed with many of those interpretations, but in time I also realised that this was the author's way of understanding God; and honestly I could be severely biased against any view that oppos
Mark Twain once said 'A classic is something everybody wants to have read, but no one wants to read.' Were Oscar Wilde's works considered as classics in Twain's time, this quote would surely have ended: 'with one exception...'
From the opening fairy tales to the closing Poems in Prose, Wilde maintains an immense and ineffable blend of emotions, never allowing the reader to drown in the underlying melancholy or powerful social commentaries. Satire and humour are gracefully interwoven throughout e
Further Reading
A Note on the Texts

The Happy Prince and Other Tales (1888)
--The Happy Prince
--The Nightingale and the Rose
--The Selfish Giant
--The Devoted Friend
--The Remarkable Rocket

--The Portrait of Mr. W. H. (1889)

A House of Pomegranates (1891)
--The Young King
--The Birthday of the Infanta
--The Fisherman and his Soul
--The Star-Child

Lord Arthur Savile's Crime and Other Stories (1891)
--Lord Arthur Savile's Crime
--The Sphinx Without a Secret
--The Canterville Ghost
--The Model
La aguda crítica social de Wilde nunca decepciona: es hilarante, mordaz y certera. Sus cuentos teóricamente infantiles, sin embargo, son más melancólicos y doctrinales. La verdad es que es difícil añadir algo original a todo lo dicho sobre la obra de Wilde, así que me lo voy a ahorrar.
I gave this book four stars for three of its stories: Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime, The Canterville Ghost, and The Fisherman and His Soul. Nearly everything else in the collection struck me as heavily moralistic or just pompous. Out of those top three, the first two are funny, refreshing and smart, and the third, The Fisherman and His Soul, has stuck with me, and will probably never leave.
This book includes a chronology, an interesting introduction and compiles: The Happy Prince and Other Tales; The Portrait of Mr. W. H.; A House of Pomegranates; Lord Arthur Savile's Crimes and Other Stories and Poems in Prose.

I believe that Oscar Wilde's writing is not only appealing in the linguistics sense, but also when it comes to content. Not only does he master the English language to create paragraph after paragraph of beautifully written descriptions and imagery, he is also intelligent i
I adored this book, particularly the first few children's stories (especially the beautiful and sad images of birds sacrificing themselves for love). 'The Portrait of Mr. W.H.' was also one of my favourites, as it was fascinating, very convincing, and particularly relevant, as I'd recently been involved in a project on the sonnets and discussed theories with two prestigious Shakespeare fans: an actor and a producer. So this opened up a lot of new ideas for me.
I think just about anyone would wis
This was an enjoyable read but didn't wow me. The stories were hit and miss. I loved 'Lord Arthur Savile's Crime' which was such a clever idea of responsibility and duty taken to the extreme! This was the most memorable story in the book. Others seemed strange such as 'The Portrait of Mr. W. H.' which was more essay than story. Some of the tales had a strong moral Christian tone which did surprise me; I guess it's not something I expected from Wilde. They seemed to take their style from Grimm's ...more
There's no equal to Dorian Gray hidden away in here of course, but some of these stories are excellent. I found the fairy tales strange in they're children's stories yet written more formally than any of the other stories collected in this volume, and the morals were rather serious and depressing.

Highlights were Lord Arthur Savile's Crime, The Canterville Ghost, and The Portrait of Mr W.H. for me. The Fisherman and His Soul and The Birthday of the Infanta were also good.
The striking thing about Oscar Wilde's fairy tales is that they are timeless, universal, and yet completely original. In contrast, his other stories perfectly capture a particular segment of English society at a particular point in time as observed by Oscar Wilde. I don't remember reading the prose poems before, they might not have been in the collection I had previously read, but they are also outstanding. Overall, a perfect delight to read from beginning to end.
Haythem Bastawy
Very interesting and versatile, gathering all of Wilde's short stories and prose poems in one volume. My only problem is with the tiny font, something which is consistent with all of Penguin's budget editions.
I was 12-years-old when I first read The Birthday of the Infanta. I was sitting on a big sofa in the living room, still in my school's clothes. The idea that someone (or something) so beautiful could possibly be so evil was entirely new to my youth. But what I shall remember forever is the moment when the Dwarf enters the mirror's room and acknowledges the fact that what he praised above everything else, beauty, was the one thing he did not possess.
though oscar wilde may be known for his plays, this collection is certain proof that he can also write a mean short story. this book had everything i loved about the importance of being earnest and other plays; light, satirical humour and a quite often chilling display of insight. i'd thought i'd read enough short stories for the forseeable future, but i'm definitely glad i changed my mind.
I was surprised at the Christian imagery and sentiment found within this collection of Wilde's work. That being said the way Wilde rendered his stories and their motiffs of Christianity was superb and focused on the gentle aspects of the religion and Christ. The stories are original and well written, Wilde's use of language is excellent; not too grandiose but still eloquent. Worth reading.
Abdullah Adib
I'm a fan of Oscar Wilde and to read this book is to have a better understanding of this man. In some of the stories he went on with his obsession in the upper classes, yet in some he showed great wisdom and great faith. You will find a nice blend of that wisdom, cynicism, irony, and humour. I highly recommend it.
Elizabeth Tangora
Oct 11, 2008 Elizabeth Tangora rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Oscar Wilde who want to see another side of his writing.
Not even close to what I was expecting, but still oddly fascinating. Some of the stories are incredibly imaginative, others are weirdly intense in their Christianity, some are both, and almost all the stories are occupied with a complex yet absolute morality that's punished as often as it's rewarded.
some stories definitely deserved 5 stars, others 3 or less as they got a bit too preachy at times. I'd probably give this a 3.5 if I could but I'll just round up. Definitely worth reading The Canterville Ghost, Lord Arthur Saville's Crime, and The Happy Prince though.
Anwen Hayward
There is a rumour that, when asked to list his 100 favourite books, Oscar Wilde replied with 'I cannot. I have only written five.' It is for a similar reason that I can't list my 100 favourite short stories; this book does not contain that many.
It pleases me that most of these are stories that Wilde told his sons aloud for years before his ever patient and ill-treated wife made him write them down, they also border on Irish folktales which makes me happy.
I picked this up because I wanted to read "The Canterville Ghost." I enjoyed the entire collection; it is witty, engaging, and lovely- quite an amazing collection! "Lord Arthur Savile's Crime" is my favorite.
Frankie Reeves
It goes without saying that this was simply remarkable. Wilde uses words like sharp, witty weapons and luxurious poetry in equal measure, and it's always a pleasure to read his work <3
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Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish playwright, poet and author of numerous short stories and one novel. Known for his biting wit, and a plentitude of aphorisms, he became one of the most successful playwrights of the late Victorian era in London, and one of the greatest celebrities of his day. Several of his plays continue to be widely performed, especially The Importance of Being E ...more
More about Oscar Wilde...
The Picture of Dorian Gray The Importance of Being Earnest The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays   An Ideal Husband The Canterville Ghost

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