Review: Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime & The Canterville Ghost – Oscar Wilde

oscar wildeIt was Lady Windermere’s last reception before Easter, and Bentinck House was even more crowded than usual. Six Cabinet Ministers had come on from the Speaker’s Levee in their stars and ribands, all the pretty women wore their smartest dresses, and at the end of the picture-gallery stood the Princess Sophia of Carlsruhe, a heavy Tartar-looking lady, with tiny black eyes and wonderful emeralds, talking bad French at the top of her voice, and laughing immoderately at everything that was said to her.

Rating: 3.5/5

Arthur Savile is a young gentleman about to get married to the lovely Sybil Merton. However, at a party thrown by Lady Windermere, whose pet chiromantist Podgers, a palm-reader, has foretold that Arthur will commit a murder in his lifetime. Of course, pragmatic Arthur wants to get the deed over and done with before he embarks on married life, which leads to a darkly humorous set of events as he tries and fails to fulfil his destiny.

The tale takes great delight in satirising English high society, charlatans, and single-minded young men.

***

oscar wildeThis is Oscar Wilde’s tale of the American family moved into a British mansion, Canterville Chase, much to the annoyance its tired ghost. The family — which refuses to believe in him — is in Wilde’s way a commentary on the British nobility of the day — and on the Americans, too. The tale, like many of Wilde’s, is rich with allusion, but ends as sentimental romance. . .

Rating: 4/5

I found this tale delightful – the story of a disgruntled ghost and the no-nonsense, utterly unsentimental American family who move into his house. They remove the bloodstains he so carefully adorns the floor with, they offer him branded products – ‘The Rising Sun Lubricator’ – with which to oil his chains so that they don’t clank so loudly, the young twin boys repeatedly harass him without the slightest hint of fear… The ghostly inhabitant tries to embark on some kind of one-upmanship with the household inhabitants, but they are not fussed in the slightest. Utterly hilarious.

For five days he kept his room, and at last made up his mind to give up the point of the blood-stain on the library floor. If the Otis family did not want it, they clearly did not deserve it. They were evidently people on a low, material plane of existence, and quite incapable of appreciating the symbolic value of sensuous phenomena.

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4 thoughts on “Review: Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime & The Canterville Ghost – Oscar Wilde

  1. Ooh, somebody is the mood for classics – hurray! 🙂 I read Arthur Savile a long time ago and loved it. But I haven’t read the disgruntled ghost story, and now I can’t wait to do so! Fantastic reviews, Hannah.

    Like

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