Mizumi's Reviews > The Collected Works of Oscar Wilde

The Collected Works of Oscar Wilde by Oscar Wilde
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Jun 22, 13

bookshelves: books-i-own, collected-works, older-books, classics
Read in June, 2013

I took a while to think about it, and I've come to the conclusion I'm definitely going to need to reread this volume. I'm giving four stars for now, though I might get back to that and give it five.

So, I read everything in this volume, from The Picture of Dorian Gray all the way to De Profundis, the final entry in the book. At first I kind of wondered about it, since it's not the final writing by Wilde exactly, but it made a lot of sense to put it in last. Wilde himself ties in almost everything he's written so far, reflecting on himself and on what he wants to pursue after getting out of jail. That was a rather painful but understandable entry to end the volume on.

I took a break after The Picture of Dorian Gray, which is definitely first on my reread list. It's rather lengthy at points, but Wilde's prose drew me along with the story, allowing me to still be shocked by the sudden twist, even though I knew it was coming.
As for the short stories, I still really like The Canterville Ghost, because it's rather hilarious, though with a poignant twist in the end. I read it first in a compilation of Victorian ghost stories, and it was one of the two things that convinced me I had to read more by Oscar Wilde. I really liked the rest of the short stories as well, and most of them read as twisted or even morbid fairy tales in a way. The Nightingale and the Rose comes to mind.

Then we continue with the plays, and out of those, I still prefer The Importance of Being Earnest, perhaps because it's much lighter in tone than the plays preceding it, and definitely lighter than those succeeding it in the volume. However, I'd already read it before (this being the second thing that convinced me to buy this volume), so maybe a reread is in its place for the other plays as well. I liked how very diverse they all were.

I still have trouble reading poetry, but it's telling I read all of Wilde's poetical work in one day. Some spoke to me more than others, and I must admit I took a certain delight in catching pretty much all of the Greek/Roman mythology references immediately. That being said, this is where I felt the volume could have been helped with footnotes here and there. Sure, I've had French in high school and I can still read the Greek alphabet, but I'm not fluent enough to understand complex French sentences or even a short sentence written in Greek. As the reader is expected to understand it, especially the French, maybe a translation at the bottom would have helped.
(Wordsworth editions seem to take the all-or-nothing approach on footnotes. For example, there was an honest footnote in Dracula on the British Museum, saying it's a museum. In Great Britain. You don't say. I mean, it's nice to know Stoker studied a bit there, but not relevant to the text. But okay, I digress. Point being, the Library Collection doesn't seem to have footnotes at all, even though at points I think they'd be nice.)

Finally, we have the essays and De Profundis, the latter I already touched upon above. As for the essays, they were interesting, but took me a while to get into. I did really like The Truth of Masks, which talks about Shakespeare's plays and his emphasis on costumes, and how important it is to keep true to the place and period of his plays. This kind of made me regret not having taken up my big volume with Shakespeare's work before this one, considering the huge number of Shakespearean references throughout the volume, but I could have expected that I suppose. Oh well. My loss, I'll fix it before rereading.


Talking about the volume as a whole, I think this is a great collection (aside from the lack of footnotes here and there, but okay, this is the digital age where dictionaries in any language are a mouse click away). I really love looking at the cover (the printing being in gold), the binding is solid, and most importantly, it's pretty easy to handle for such a big and heavy book. I've already experienced this with my Sherlock Holmes collection, hence my choice here. So, kudos to the Wordsworth Library Collection quality!

This has been a lengthy and not at all insightful review, but ssh.
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Reading Progress

07/31/2012 page 25
2.0% "This is a great idea to read for my book challenge for sure. XD Oh well. I'll probably read other stuff in between - I just got started in the Picture of Dorian Gray, really enjoying it so far."
10/21/2012 page 110
9.0% "I'm superfast, y'all. Nearing the end of Dorian Gray, after which I'll probably take up another book so I can at least finish my 50 books for this year."
10/25/2012 page 155
12.0% "That was the Picture of Dorian Gray. Man, he was detestable, but I can't help but adoring Wilde's writing. So much love for the chapter on the jewels. I am apparently very shallow. OH WELL. Back on the shelf for now, but I'll get back to the stories later!"
05/28/2013 page 275
25.0% "Short stories read: Lord Arthur Savile's Crime, The Sphinx without a Secret, The Canterville Ghost, The Model Millionaire, The Portrait of Mr. W.H., The Young King, and The Birthday of the Infanta."
05/31/2013 page 407
37.0% "Short stories done. This time I read: The Fisherman and his Soul, the Star-Child, the Happy Prince, the Nightingale and the Rose, the Selfish Giant, the Devoted Friend, and the Remarkable Rocket. Kind of twisted fairytales in a way, hm. I also read the play 'Vera'."
06/08/2013 page 537
48.0% "finished the plays 'the Duchess of Padua' and 'Lady Windermere's Fan' now."
06/14/2013 page 769
70.0% "Finished the plays: A Woman of no Importance, An Ideal Husband, The Importance of being Earnest (reread), Salomé, La Sainte Courtisane, A Florentine Tragedy (a fragment). Still like Earnest best, but since that's the only one I read twice, maybe I should just reread them all to be sure. Onto the poetical works, generally not my thing but we'll see. I like being surprised."
06/16/2013 page 949
86.0% "Read the poetical works and The Decay of Lying." 7 comments
06/17/2013 page 1040
94.0% "Read: Pen, Pencil and Poison, The Critic as Artist, and The Truth of Masks. I liked the last one most, and I'm now reminded I really really need to read my collected Shakespeare volume (if I do that this year, I probably won't finish 30 books this year, woops.) Two more left including De Profundis."
06/18/2013 marked as: read
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