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The Happy Prince and Other Tales Hardcover – October 10, 1995
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Top Customer Reviews
"The Happy Prince" and "The Selfish Giant" are perhaps the most famous of the nine. In the first story, the golden statue of a prince weeps for all the suffering people he sees and begs a swallow to strip him of his riches and distribute them to the masses. In the second tale, a giant builds a wall around his beautiful garden to keep out the noisy children, only to find out that he has also locked out the Spring.
"The Young King" is a variation on the theme of "A Happy Prince". When a young monarch learns of the suffering and misery caused by his requirement for a robe, a crown, and a sceptre, he refuses to handle any of these riches and is given a more fitting raiment by a Divine Power. Keeping with the royal theme is "The Star-Child", about a beautiful but horrible young boy whose physical appearance grows to match his ugly spirit. Another little bird appears in "The Nightingale and the Rose", to help a young man win the heart of the woman he loves.
The stories' themes include beauty, tragedy, agony, compassion, innocence, and (Platonic) love. Some characters give their lives, or sell their souls, in the name of love. There are also the same archetypes that appear in dreams: the Divine Child, the Trickster, the Wise Old Man or Woman, the Number 3, and more. Add all this to Wilde's delicate writing and gilded imagination, and you get some of the most original tales ever written.
Though most of these stories end happily, all end tragically.Read more ›
These fairy tales were published before the Importance of Being Earnest and The Picture of Dorian Gray, and before Wilde became a flamboyant center of London society. Some are explicitly Christian. Wilde's wit, insight, and word play are on display, particularly in The Remarkable Rocket, which can be read as a prescient allegory of Wilde's life.
Some are more accessible than others (for example The Remarkable Rocket went a little above my five year old's head, while they could relate very well to The Happy Prince and The Selfish Giant).
The stories do raise some potentially heavy topics for children (for example death, sacrifice, God, poverty...) so I think it's good to be prepared for questions afterwards, as you might end up talking about the stories with your children long after they have finished.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'm amazed this book had escaped me for so long because I absolutely loved it. So much so, I have a copy printed now hanging beside my desk (such is it's size). Read morePublished 4 months ago by TG
This is a classic Oscar Wilde collection of children's stories published in 1888 with morals that still ring true today. Read morePublished 4 months ago by petunia
I really enjoyed this little book. It can be a very pleasant interlude when one just needs to relax.Published 4 months ago by Super Secretary
this book is beautifully written and the artwork is gorgeous. i loved this book the first time i read it and have loved it ever since.Published 5 months ago by nancy nieslen
I cried when I first read the Happy Prince as a small child. I just read it again after nearly 60 years and cried. Such a beautiful story about selflessness and friendship.Published 5 months ago by Saly