It’s been over a century after his death, but Oscar Wilde remains more than just the sum of his literary achievements. As prosperity swept Britain in the Victorian era of the late 19th century, Wilde’s work inspired – and continues to inspire – everyone who embraced literature. Though he was wrongfully exiled for being homosexual, it is because of his daring personality and his support for art, the creative spirit and his great capacity to love, that reflected in his works, that we still read his works with ardour to this day. To commemorate his 30th death anniversary, we asked our girls what their favourite Wilde story is, and why.
Huzan Tata – Senior Writer
From all of Wilde’s works, though The Picture Of Dorian Gray comes a close second, it’s The Nightingale And The Rose (featured in The Complete Short Fiction by Oscar Wilde) that remains closest to my heart. Love, sacrifice, gratitude, pity, materialism all feature in this short story, and when I first read it as a 13 year old, fell in love with it in an instant. I constantly go back to its pages when I need some reassurance that in a world full of individuals like the materialistic young girl, it’s always important to be the selfless nightingale. And of course, I’m still on the lookout for the guy with “the reddest rose in all the world”.
Ranjabati Das – Copy Editor
One of my favourite works of Wilde remains The Model Millionaire, one of his first short stories. That’s another great thing about Wilde – he has experimented with so many formats: plays, poems, fairy tales, short stories, essays, novels and more. Written during his stint as a journalist and editor, it is a lighthearted, feel-good story about a young man whose kindness towards a beggar leads to a very happy ending indeed. This one had me with its first few lines. ‘Unless one is wealthy there is no use in being a charming fellow. Romance is the privilege of the rich, not the profession of the unemployed. The poor should be practical and prosaic. It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating.’The Model Millionaire has all the elements I look for in a Wilde story: flawed characters that feel intrinsically real, surprise endings, a twist in the tale…. He had this unique way of juxtaposing relatable characters with some of the most unreal situations one can possibly dream of, cooking it all in a saucy curry seasoned with his signature sardonic wit. Destiny, dual identities, and wordplay often came in handy, in a Victorian world devoid of romance. The darling of upper-class social circles and the life of every dinner party, Wilde retaliated by being unapologetically irreverent and sprinkling his works liberally with humorous digs at society. Going back to the introductory lines in The Model Millionaire, it gets me every time not simple because it serves as one of the best examples of Wilde’s famous paradoxes — but also because it encapsulates how romance, love, marriage and a happy ending was not a right, but indeed the privilege of those abiding by diktats relating to not only class but also sexuality.
Saumya Sinha – Junior Writer
The Picture of Dorian Gray was easily my first experience of ambitious and somewhat flagrant storytelling that spanned emotions, truths, ideas and characters. I can still recall the first time I picked the book, the vivid sketches of Basil Hallward, Lord Henry Wutton or Sybil Vane that my imagination created and the darkness, aphorism and epigrams that pervaded the story. I think it’s one of those booksthat become the springboard from which you launch into a lifetime of reading, reasoning and believing, or at least that’s what I’d like to believe.