As ever, school has been eating up my time these last few weeks so I now have several reviews to type up. I actually finished ‘The Collected Works of Oscar Wilde’ by (you’ve guessed it…) Oscar Wilde back on February 10th! Unfortunately, I’m only just getting round to reviewing this wonderful book. I had to debate over how to review this, and whether to rate the book as a whole or to rate its short stories/plays/poems/essays individually, but have finally chosen my method. As a collection, the book is stunning and receives 10/10. I will review some of its individual contents below.
‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’- 10/10
I had read some of Wilde’s work before starting this book, but ‘Dorian’ had still managed to allude me over the years. In truth, I am not a fan of certain types of ‘fantasy’, and I think Wilde’s only full-length novel did not appeal to me at first due to is elements of the supernatural. That being said, I was soon able to put that aside and ultimately thoroughly enjoyed the novel. Its wonderfully quaint Victorian prose and characters fascinated me, something which is apparent when I look back through my notes on the book and see that one of the first things I remarked on the book was that Basil was ‘wonderfully mad’. Lord Henry, on the other hand, was immediately branded a snob. As with most typically English literature from the 18th century, ‘Dorian’ has its obviously ‘good characters and its obviously ‘evil’ characters. In fact, the only character who does not fit into either of these categories is Mr Dorian Gray himself. He was a fascinating character to read, with Basil’s description of him building up curiosity around him before we ever even met him. The is one of the many aspects of the book that showcase Wilde’s amazing literary talents. For anyone else, making a ‘jack-the-lad’ character such as Dorian so beautifully written could prove problematic, although this evidently did not faze Wilde. We even begin to feel sorry for the rather shallow young man as Lord Henry places troublesome ideas in his head. I began to hate Henry more and more as the novel progressed and its more shocking events began to unfold. The ending was wonderfully poetic, even if I did have sympathy
for Dorian in a way Wilde clearly did not intend. to put it simply, the novel is the work of a master-storyteller at his best!
‘The Portrait of Mr WH’- 8/10
‘The Young King’- 8/10
‘The Birthday of the Infanta- 10/10
‘The Fisherman and his Soul’- 6/10
‘The Happy Prince’- 10/10
‘The Nightingale and the Roses’- 8/10
‘The Devoted Friend’- 8/10
‘Lord Arthur Savile’s Crimes’- 10/10
This was one of my favourite short-stories due to its interesting premise- I read it extremely quickly and wanted its main character to succeed.
‘The Canterville Ghost’- 10/10
As soon as I began reading this story I remember deciding I loved the idea of an old-fashioned haunting! It actually transpired to be rather amusing, particularly when told from the ghost’s point of view. Its happy ending actually made me smile.
‘The Duchess of Padua’- 9/10
‘Lady Windermere’s Fan’- 10/10
Without a doubt the best play Wilde wrote during an all-together illustrious career as a play-write. From this particular play as well as much of his other work, it is apparent that writing dramas centering on Victorian society brought out the best in him. This particular play is a study on society with a twist filled with refreshingly intelligent dialogue between its characters. It was an easy read with a thrilling twist. As an added bonus, it contains one of my favourite Oscar Wilde quotes. I’m now determined to find somewhere actors are still performing this on stage!
‘A Woman of No Importance’- 10/10
‘The Ideal Husband’- 9/10
‘The Importance of Being Ernest’- 10/10
This may not be my favourite of Wilde’s plays, but it is still excellent. I loved the darkly humorous undertones and the jokey title. As ever, it featured a clever and beautifully written twist.
‘A Florentine Tragedy’- 7/10
‘La Sainte Courtisone’- 7/10
Poems- At this point I would have reviewed Wilde’s poetry, however I’m not going to do so. This is because, try as I might and despite the fact Wilde’s is beautifully written, I don’t like poetry and don’t wish to tarnish my review by including it.
‘De Profundis’- 10/10
Final rating for book: 10/10
“Nowadays we know the price of everything, but the value of nothing.”