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Thread: The Portrait of Mr W.H.

  1. #1
    Registered User
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    Aug 2007
    East Sussex UK

    The Portrait of Mr W.H.

    One of my favourite bits of Wilde`s lesser known output. I feel that his tongue is firmly in his cheek as he writes it. It is fun and thought provoking but not to be taken too seriously. A bit like the notion that King James drafted in Shakespeare to update the Psalms for his new Bible. Most readers of this site will be familiar with the old suggestion about the wording of Psalm 46. So read and enjoy and revel in Wilde`s wit and erudicity. But go to someone like Ackroyd if it is deeper analysis you`re after.

  2. #2
    Registered User Cien's Avatar
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    Jan 2007
    I find it fascinating in that its Wilde's first long-ish work focusing on obsession with beauty for the sake of beauty. The theory is just so beautiful and entrancing that it needs no proof to the foolish who hear about it...
    More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn't read.
    -Algernon, The Importance of Being Ernest

    This is the true joy in life; being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one, and being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod.
    -George Bernard Shaw

  3. #3
    Caged bird set Free Prometheus's Avatar
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    Mar 2008
    Personally I thought it is his worst and most boring short story, it just drones on!

  4. #4
    Drama Queen
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    Nov 2009
    It is definitely a tongue-in-cheek work by Wilde and he would be the first to say "don't take it seriously."

  5. #5
    Queen of Eldritch Horror Hopfrog's Avatar
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    Jul 2011
    Seattle, WA
    The story is excellent and captivating. I just purchased the single volume edition published by Hesperus Press, with its Introduction by Peter Ackroyd (I wish he would write a new full biography of Wilde; his Life of Shakespeare is too utterly wonderful). I am also a huge fan of literary criticism, and so perhaps one reason I so love this story by Wilde is that it includes some strange (yet playful) theories concerning the Sonnets. I consider "The Portrait of Mr. W. H." as fiction, although in a three-volume box set that was recently given me it is included in the selection of Essays -- & this delights me, that editors cannot decide with surety to what genre the work belongs. Oscar is ever an enigma. The story is superbly told, with a narrative that flows and is never dull. It shews what a very good writer Wilde was in the mode of fiction, and one is sadden that he did not pursue more fully his talent for this craft. Characters are individual and fully realised, and I love how the portrait itself is given its own personal aura, if not the sentient given to the portrait of Dorian Gray. This is a tale to which I return time and timer again, for the sheer pleasure it provides its readers.
    "I never can be tied to raw, new things." --H. P. Lovecraft

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