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The Collected Oscar Wilde (Barnes & Noble…

The Collected Oscar Wilde (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) (original 2007; edition 2007)

by Oscar Wilde, Angus Fletcher (Introduction)

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Title:The Collected Oscar Wilde (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
Authors:Oscar Wilde
Other authors:Angus Fletcher (Introduction)
Info:Barnes & Noble Classics (2007), Paperback, 640 pages
Collections:Your library, To read

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The Collected Oscar Wilde by Oscar Wilde (2007)



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Until I read this collection I thought I really liked Oscar Wilde. I have seen "The Importance of Being Earnest" and have enjoyed it. I read The Portrait of Dorian Gray and thoroughly enjoyed it. I have heard many of the aphorisms and they are exquisitely entertaining. And I have read his short stories and found some entertaining. There is no one who can play with words while skewering public perceptions quite the same way as Wilde.

And then I plowed my way – very slowly – through this collection and realized that maybe I don't like Oscar Wilde as much as I thought.

Okay, we all know that isn't true. And we also know that the minute you begin exploring the complete body of work of any author you begin to come across some of the less-than-stellar examples. However, this is by no means meant to be a complete collection. (In fact, I recently read the complete collection of his short stories and that is where I began to realize that my love affair might be more infatuation than long-term commitment.) This collection is meant to provide (I assume) some of the best of the author's works in various forms. There is short fiction, poems, lectures, journalistic works, essays, collections of aphorisms, and a play (see if you can guess which one.)

As I have noted, I previously had the chance to read the complete collection of Wilde's short stories and, overall, I didn't particularly like them. There were some good ones, and this collection has done a decent job of finding some of the best. Which means, based on this single experience, I can only assume that a similar job has been done with the other examples – i.e. it contains some of the best poems, essays, etc.

Based on that, I can only say I have no desire to search out further reading. The problem is that so much of the writing is about events in the past with which we cannot relate – people, places, themes that no longer are pertinent. Let me quickly add that this is not just a function of my not being up-to-date on historical issues. Rather, the people, writing, discussion, and zeitgeist that has driven this writing is more relevant to the minutia of scholars than the basic understanding of history and its events that the rest of us might be able to grasp.

Further, the style of much of the writing (in particular the dialogues) just does not work in today's world.

Buried deep in these writings is the wonderful wit that is so much of what I expect from Wilde. But it is buried so deeply underneath the avalanche of words and dissertations that, in spite of my dog-earing pages for future reference, it was not worth the digging; it was not worth the time it took to get to them.

Oscar Wilde is a great writer. But being a great writer does not mean that the majority of the material be accessible.

My suggestion is to stick to his standouts, and leave the completest collections to those with more time and grey matter to spend on the subject, ( )
  figre | Feb 6, 2015 |
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I had been dining with Erskine in his pretty little house in Birdcage Walk, and we were sitting in the library over our coffee and cigarettes, when the question of literary forgeries happened to turn up in conversation.
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The Collected Oscar Wilde, by Oscar Wilde, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriateAll editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works. A renowned eccentric, dandy, and man-about-town, Oscar Wilde was foremost a dazzling wit and dramatic genius whose plays, poems, essays, and fiction contain some of the most frequently quoted quips and passages in the English language. This volume features a wide selection of Wilde's literary output, including the comic masterpiece The Importance of Being Earnest, an immensely popular play filled with satiric epigrams that mercilessly expose Victorian hypocrisy; The Portrait of Mr. W. H., a story proposing that Shakespeare's sonnets were inspired by the poet's love for a young man; The House of Pomegranates, the author's collection of fairy tales; lectures Wilde delivered, first in the United States, where he exhorted his audiences to love beauty and art, and then in England, where he presented his impressions of America; his two major literary-theoretical works, “The Decay of Lying and “The Critic as Artist; and a selection of verse, including his great poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol, in which Wilde famously declared that “each man kills the thing he loves. A testament to Wilde's incredible versatility, this collection displays his legendary wit, brilliant use of language, and penetrating insight into the human condition. Angus Fletcher is Distinguished Professor Emeritus, City University of New York, and the author of Allegory: The Theory of a Symbolic Mode, Colors of the Mind, and A New Theory for American Poetry, among other books.… (more)

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