This book offers an innovative revaluation of Oscar Wilde’s two collections of fairy tales, The Happy Prince and Other Tales (1888) and A House of Pomegranates (1891). Providing a comprehensive account of Wilde’s familiarity with Irish folklore, this study challenges the prevailing consensus that the stories draw heavily on such material. By emphasizing Wilde’s own stated views on the subject – and so contesting the assumption that he simply shared the well-documented interests of his parents, Sir William Wilde and Lady Jane Wilde (‘Speranza’) – the book relocates the stories within a variety of literary, cultural, and narrative traditions, both Irish and European.
Acknowledging Wilde’s often ambivalent and ambiguous statements about his Irish national identity, Oscar Wilde’s Fairy Tales offers a more nuanced understanding of the importance of Ireland to Wilde’s art. The detailed readings of the fairy tales show that, despite the stories’ continuing appeal to children, Wilde intended his fairy tales for a predominantly adult audience. The book also demonstrates the ways in which, despite their eerie and disturbing content, these fairy tales reaffirmed conservative values.
Table of Contents
- The Discovery and Study of Folklore
- The Wildes and Irish Folklore
- The Literary Fairy Tale
- The Happy Prince and Other Tales
- A House of Pomegranates
Conclusion: ‘The Folk-tale is the Father of all Fiction’
About the Author
Dr Anne Markey is a Research Associate of Trinity College Dublin, whose recent publications include Children’s Fiction 1765-1808 (2011).