Reading Report of “The Complete Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde”

Categories: Fairy Tale

Introduction of the Author

The English author Oscar Wilde lived from 1854 to 1900. He was born on October 16th, 1854 in Dublin, Ireland. Wilde was the second son of a distinguished family. His father, Sir William Wilde, was a surgeon, and his mother was a poet and writer. Oscar Wilde was well-educated and graduated from Oxford University. At Oxford, Wilde was influenced by the aesthetic ideas of Walter Pater and John Ruskin, and was exposed to the works of Neo-Hegelian philosophy, Darwinian evolution and Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, which set the direction for him to become a pioneer of aestheticism.

In 1887, Wilde became the executive editor of “Women World”, where he published some of his novels, reviews, and poems. His works were famous for his colorful words, novel and bright ideas. In May 1888, “The Happy Prince And Other Stories” was published. On June 20th, 1890, in the newspaper, Wilde serialized a novel “The picture of Dorian Gray”, which established his status of a decadent artist. In 1895, Wilde was sentenced to two years' hard labor for acts of gross indecency with other male persons, and was declared bankrupt.

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After his release, Wilde was disappointed with England and set off for Paris. On November 30th, 1900, Wilde died of meningitis at the Alsace hotel in Paris, aged 46, only accompanied by Rose (his first homosexual lover) and another friend.

Oscar Wilde was very confident and talented. Although he was very poor in his later years, his artistic achievements still made him the world’s classic artist. Wilde was one of the greatest British writers and artists of the 19th century, equally famous with George Bernard Shaw, for his plays, poems, fairy tales and novels, and Wilde was the representative figure of aestheticism, the main force of the aesthetic movement in the 1880s and the pioneer of the decadent movement in the 1990s.

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Although Oscar Wilde is known primarily as an adult writer, two of his early works, “The Happy Prince And Other Tales” and “A House of Pomegranates”, have made history in English children's literature. His fairy tales won the favor of the majority of readers, so Wilde is also known as the 'fairy tale prince'. In his life, he wrote only nine fairy tales, but each one is the essence, his fairy tales can be compared with Andersen's fairy tales and Grimm's fairy tales.


  1. The Picture of Dorian Gray(1891)
  2. Poems
  3. Poems(1881)
  4. Sphinx(1894)
  5. The Ballad of Reading Gaol(1898)


  1. Vera(1880)
  2. Lady Windermere’s Fan(1892)
  3. The Duchess of Padua(1893)
  4. Salome(1893)
  5. A Woman of No Importance(1892)
  6. The Importance of Being Earnest(1895)
  7. An Ideal Husband(1895)

Fairy tales

  1. The Happy Prince and Other Tales(1888)
  2. A House of Pomegranates(1891)
  3. Other works
  4. The Soul of Man Under Socialism(1891)
  5. De Profundis(1897)
  6. The Decay Of Lying(1889)

Content of the Book

“The Complete Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde” was published by Foreign Language Teaching And Research Press on March 29th, 2010, with 250 pages long. The book includes the two definitive story collections “The Happy Prince and Other Tales” (1888) and “A House of Pomegranates” (1891). This volume collects exquisite and poignant tales of true beauty, selfless love, generosity, loyalty, brilliant wit, and moral aestheticism, such as 'The Birthday of the Infanta' 'The Selfish Giant' 'The Nightingale and the Rose' and 'The Happy Prince' among others. It is a true classic of wonder for all ages.


Oscar Wilde’s rich and dramatic portrayals of the human condition came during the height of the prosperity that swept through London in the Victorian Era of the late 19th century. At a time when all citizens of Britain were finally able to embrace literature the wealthy and educated could only once afford, Wilde wrote many short stories, plays, and poems that continue to inspire millions around the world.


Wilde’s fairy tales are all moving, creating an atmosphere of aestheticism and sadness. The protagonists in the stories are pure and kind-hearted people, as well as people dressed in beautiful appearance but with dark hearts. These stories all try to use pure and kind human nature to change the paradoxical world and dark hearts. The subtle philosophy in Wilde's fairy tales has profound experience both for adults and children.

In the story of “The Happy Prince”, the happy prince requested the swallow to help trade his most precious things for the happiness of the poor, both of them died, but finally they lived in paradise happily forever;

In the story of “The Nightingale and the Rose”, the little nightingale traded his life for a red rose to help a young student pursue true love, but sadly his sacrifice didn’t evoke true love;

In the story of “The Selfish Giant”, the little boy gave the giant a broad mind, he knocked down the wall and shared the beautiful children with the children;

In the story of “The Devoted Friend”, the extremely selfish miller cheated Hans into helping him in the name of devoted friend, and poor Hans was drowned in a rainy night.

In the story of “The Remarkable Rocket”, the affected and fanciful rocket was immersed in his dream till the end of his life, but none of his expectations came true;

In the story of “The Young King”, the little king reflected on his past behaviour and refused to wear gorgeous clothes in order not to let the slaves suffer too much;

In the story of “The Birthday of the Infanta”, the dwarf saw his ugliness in the mirror which the infanta was entertained by, and despairingly died of heart broken.

In the story of “The Fisherman and His Soul”, the fisherman was enchanted with the mermaid and gave up his soul to pursue being with her until death.

In the story of “The Star-child”, the Star-Child was punished because of his former cruelty and suffered a lot during the journey of looking for his own parents.


In Wilde’s stories, beauty and love are the eternal themes.

He always portrayed beauty incisively and vividly.

When describing the happy prince’s beauty, “He was gilded all over with thin leaves of fine gold, for eyes he had two bright sapphires, and a large red ruby glowed on his sword hilt. ‘He is as beautiful as a weathercock.’” (“The Happy Prince”,7)

When describing the rose’s beauty, “And the marvelous rose became crimson, like the rose of the eastern sky. Crimson was the girdle of petals, and crimson as a ruby was the heart.” (“The Nightingale and the Rose”,33)

When describing the mermaid’s beauty, “Her hair was a wet fleece of gold, and each separate hair as a thread of fine gold in a cup of glass. Her body was as white ivory, and her tail was of silver and pearl. Silver and pearl was her tail, and the green weeds of the sea coiled round it; and like seashells were her ears and her lips were like sea-coral. The cold waves dashed over her cold breasts, and the salt glistened upon her eyelids.” (“The Fisherman and His Soul”,162)

When describing the Star-Child’s beauty, “He was white and delicate as a sawn ivory, and his curls were like the rings of the daffodil. His lips, also, were like the petals of a red flower, and his eyes were like violets by a river of pure water, and his body like the narcissus of a filed where the mower comes not.” (“The Star-child”,229)

Gorgeous rhetoric, elegant style, all exudes the breath of beauty. When giving the most beauty to those characters, Wilde also gave them different definitions. The happy prince firstly caught people’s eye by his beautiful appearance, but at last when he became a shabby statue with only a leaden heart, he possessed both kind and beautiful heart. It reflected Wilde’s view: Beauty is not to satisfy one's own utility, but super selfish, super utilitarian. The nightingale and the rose are the embodiment of beauty. They are not only beautiful in appearance, but also beautiful in spirit. This perfect beauty of the ideal is what all art is about.

He was either pursuing love or in the pursuit of love.

Nightingale’s view on love is “Surely love is a wonderful thing. It is more precious than emeralds and dearer than fine opals. Pearls and pomegranates cannot buy it, nor is it set forth in the market-place. It may not be purchased of the merchants, nor can be weighed out the balance for gold.” (“The Nightingale and the Rose”,26)

The young student’s view on love is “What a silly thing Love is! It is not half as useful as Logic, for it does not prove anything, and it is always telling one of things that are not going to happen, and making one believe things that are not true. In fact, it is quite unpractical, and, as in this age to be practical is everything.” (“The Nightingale and the Rose”,35)

Those who are numb to true love are more highlighting the nightingale's attachment to love. This kind of persistence is touching, it is the concrete expression of the beauty of the soul -- dedicating everything for love.

“Nor would he suffer any to be cruel to bird or beast, but taught love and loving-kindness and charity, and to the poor he gave bread, and to the naked he gave raiment, and there were peace and plenty in the land. Yet ruled he not long, so great had been his suffering, and so bitter the fire of his testing, for after the space of three years he died. And he who came after him ruled evilly.” (“The Star-child”,250)

It is true that suffering can achieve the pure virtue of the Star-Child, but it also greatly tortures the Star-Child and irrevocably destroys his life and destroys his virtue. In this world of hatred and violence, pure beauty finds no place. Pure love is hard to find. This fairy tale just proves Wilde's concept of beauty and love. 'We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.' (Wilde, “Lady Windermere’s Fan”, Chapter 3) The ideal of love is beautiful, but the reality is so ugly and ruthless. Nevertheless, the world goes through fire and water for love. 'The Star-Child', a fairy tale, should be a sad elegy to love sung by Wilde.

Love and beauty are the eternal theme of Wilde’s fairy tales, as well as the Holy Grail of our life. Once there is life, there is the pursuit of love and beauty.

Cite this page

Reading Report of “The Complete Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde”. (2020, Nov 24). Retrieved from

Reading Report of “The Complete Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde”
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