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The Happy Prince and Other Tales by Oscar…
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The Happy Prince and Other Tales (1888)

by Oscar Wilde

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (18)  Croatian (1)  French (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (21)
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The protagonist of the story is a gilt and bejeweled statue of a prince, who stands on a tall column overlooking a city. A swallow, who has delayed his migration to Egypt for the love of a reed, rests on the statue's plinth; the Prince is crying at the injustices he can now observe, having been isolated from the realities of his society while he was alive. The Prince asks the swallow to remove the ruby that adorns his sword, and give it to a poor seamstress with a sick child; the swallow does so. The swallow stays with the Prince over the ensuing weeks, distributing the jewels and gold from the Prince to the poor of the city. When the Prince is completely denuded of gold, the swallow realizes he is dying from cold; the Prince asks the swallow to kiss him on the lips. The swallow dies, and the Prince's lead heart breaks. The next day, the Mayor of the city observes the state of the statue, and orders it to be removed and melted down. The Prince's heart does not melt in the furnace, and it is discarded on to the same dust-heap where the swallow's body is lying:

"Bring me the two most precious things in the city," said God to one of His Angels; and the Angel brought Him the leaden heart and the dead bird.

"You have rightly chosen," said God, "for in my garden of Paradise this little bird shall sing for evermore, and in my city of gold the Happy Prince shall praise me."

[edit] The Nightingale and the Rose
A nightingale overhears a student complaining that his professor's daughter will not dance with him, as he is unable to give her a red rose. The nightingale visits all the rose-trees in the garden, and one of the white roses tell her that there's a way to produce a red rose, but only if the nightingale is prepared to sing the sweetest song for the rose all night, and sacrifice her life to do so. Seeing the student in tears, the nightingale carries out the ritual, and impales herself on the rose-tree's thorn so that her heart's blood can stain the rose. The student takes the rose to the professor's daughter, but she again rejects him because another man has sent her some real jewels, and "everybody knows that jewels cost far more than flowers." The student angrily throws the rose into the gutter, returns to his study of metaphysics, and decides not to believe in true love anymore.

[edit] The Selfish Giant
The Selfish Giant of the title owns a beautiful garden, in which children love to play. On the giant's return from visiting an ogre, he takes offence at the children, and builds a wall to keep them out. As a consequence of this, the garden is condemned to perpetual winter. One day, the giant is awakened by a linnet, and discovers that spring has returned to the garden, as the children have found a way in through a gap in the wall. He sees the error of his ways, and resolves to destroy the wall - however, when he emerges from his castle, all the children run away, except for one boy, who is crying so much that he does not notice the giant. The giant helps this boy into a tree that he wants to climb; the boy kisses him in return. The giant announces: "It is your garden now, little children," and knocks down the wall; the children once more play in the garden, and spring returns. But the boy that the Giant helped does not, and the Giant is heartbroken. Many years later, the Giant is old and feeble, and awakes, one winter morning, to see the trees in one part of his garden in full blossom. He descends from the castle, to discover the boy that he once helped lying beneath a beautiful white tree that the Giant has never seen before. The Giant sees that the boy bears the stigmata. He does not realize at first that the boy is actually the Christ Child. The Giant is furious at the idea that somebody has wounded him.

“ "Who hath dared to wound thee?" cried the Giant; "tell me, that I may take my big sword and slay him."

"Nay!" answered the child; "but these are the wounds of Love."

"Who art thou?" said the Giant, and a strange awe fell on him, and he knelt before the little child.

And the child smiled on the Giant, and said to him, "You let Me play once in your garden, to-day you shall come with Me to My garden, which is Paradise." ”

Shortly afterwards the happy giant dies; that same afternoon his body is found lying under the tree, covered in blossoms.

The Devoted Friend
Hans is a gardener, the devoted friend of a rich miller. On the basis of this friendship, the miller helps himself to flowers from Hans' garden, and promises to give Hans an old, broken wheelbarrow, to replace one that Hans was forced to sell so that he could buy food. Against this promise, the miller compells Hans to run a series of arduous errands for him; one stormy night, the miller asks Hans to fetch a doctor for his sick son. Returning from the doctor, Hans is lost on the moors in the storm, and drowns in a pool of water. After Hans' funeral, the miller's only emotion is regret, as he has been unable to dispose of the wheelbarrow.

The story is told by a linnet to an intellectual water-rat, who fancies himself a literary critic; the water-rat is sympathetic to the miller rather than Hans, and storms off on being informed that the story has a moral.


[edit] The Remarkable Rocket
This story concerns a firework, who is one of many to be let off at the wedding of a prince and princess. The rocket is extremely pompous and self-important, and denigrates all the other fireworks, eventually bursting into tears to demonstrate his "sensitivity". As this makes him wet, he fails to ignite, and, the next day, is thrown away into a ditch. He still believes that he is destined for great public importance, and treats a frog, dragonfly, and duck that meet him with appropriate disdain. Two boys find him, and use him for fuel on their camp-fire. The rocket is finally lit and explodes, but nobody observes him - the only effect he has is to frighten a goose with his falling stick.

The Remarkable Rocket, unlike the other stories in the collection, contains a large number of Wildean epigrams:

“ "Conversation, indeed!" said the Rocket. "You have talked the whole time yourself. That is not conversation."

"Somebody must listen," answered the Frog, "and I like to do all the talking myself. It saves time, and prevents arguments."

"But I like arguments," said the Rocket.

"I hope not," said the Frog complacently. "Arguments are extremely vulgar, for everybody in good society holds exactly the same opinions."
  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
Not as good as some of Wilde's other work, but these stories were still enjoyable social commentaries. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
Oscar Wilde was wide-ranging in the literary forms he engaged and I've enjoyed many of his other works, but his fairy tales don't strike me as being one of his strengths. He was no Hans Anderson, not even J.K. Rowling (see: Beedle). But if you're looking for a purely Christian slant in classics for children, you can't do better than this.

(4/5) The Happy Prince - A golden statue has opportunity to help his city with a bird's assistance. It's all about charity. Saw the 1974 animation as a kid, so the nostalgia won it some points.

(3.5/5) The Nightingale and the Rose - A nightingale selflessly assists a young wooer. Love isn't love unless you're willing to die for it. Most kids won't grasp this without assistance.

(3.5/5) The Selfish Giant - spring won't return to the giant's garden after he ejects a bunch of hooligans. Embrace Christianity for everlasting life. Made little impression on me when I was young, and none at all now.

(3/5) The Devoted Friend - A tale about give-and-take that's entirely open to misinterpretation, thus the awkward framing story about the water rat.

(3.5/5) The Remarkable Rocket - A supremely self-centered firecracker leaves no impression on anyone. A strange note to end on, but there it is. ( )
  Cecrow | Nov 26, 2015 |
If this book doesn't make you want to curl up with a nice hot cup of arsenic and maybe some razor blades, you read a different edition than I did. Apparently Wilde read Hans Christian Anderson and thought, "Dang nab it, I can write way way depressing fairy tales, too!"

Not saying it's not pretty. Just saying. ( )
  Deborah_Markus | Aug 8, 2015 |
4.5* ( )
  something_ | May 1, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (64 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Oscar Wildeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kapari, JaanaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
to Carlos Blacker
First words
High above the city on a tall column stood the statue of the Happy Prince.
Quotations
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This is the original story collection from Mr. Wilde, including:
* The Happy Prince
* The Nightingale and the Rose
* The Selfish Giant
* The Devoted Friend
* The Remarkable Rocket
Please do not combine with other story collection that contain different stories.
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Book description
Contents: The happy prince -- The nightingale and the rose -- The selfish giant -- The devoted friends -- The remarkable rocket.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679444734, Hardcover)

A pleasure seeking prince, a selfish giant, and more: Wilde's fairy tales, first published in 1888, for childlike people from eighteen to eighty."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:47 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A beautiful, golden, jewel-studded statue and a little swallow give all they have to help the poor.

» see all 8 descriptions

Legacy Library: Oscar Wilde

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See Oscar Wilde's legacy profile.

See Oscar Wilde's author page.

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