Reading Ireland Month is being run by by Cathy746Books and The Fluff is Raging and is affectionately known as the Begorrathon. This month, bloggers unite to read and review a range of Irish literature, film and music in celebration of Irish culture! What better way to spend St Patrick’s Day (and month!) than having a great time with Irish lit?
This 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. . .
I read this little short story a few weeks ago and just loved it. It’s sassy and witty, the perfect Wilde story. It’s different to other Wilde stories I’ve read before…. It feels like a children’s story, but with enough sassy elements to keep me having a giggle.
Oscar spends a lot of time in this story throwing sass at the stereotypical American. They’re loud, they’re crass, they’re materialistic and they absolutely do not believe in the poor Canterville ghost, no matter what he does.
“I will take the furniture and the ghost at a valuation. I have come from a modern country, where we have everything that money can buy; and with all our spry young fellows painting the Old World red, and carrying off your best actors and prima-donnas, I reckon that if there were such a thing as a ghost in Europe, we’d have it at home in a very short time in one of our public museums, or on the road as a show.”
The Canterville Ghost, Sir Simon, is as theatrical as they get. He rattles his chains and turns into all manner of creepy visions, but he just can’t get the American family to get scared. He slowly sinks into a depressive slump, which was quite funny in it’s own way- for what good is a spook who can’t haunt anyone? They even repeatedly clean up his bloodstain and put oil on his chains to stop them rattling!
Sir Simon isn’t a good ghost though. He very casually admits to murdering his wife because she “was very plain, never had my ruffs properly starched, and knew nothing about cookery.” Now there’s a fantastic excuse for murder…. not. He had this dark side as well as his funny side, with a truly awful death. He changes several times in the story, giving him an amazing feel.
What strikes me about this story is that it is so well rounded, even for being a mere 26 pages long. Wilde has packed in so much detail, sass, heaviness and humour into such a short work, a feat which many attempt but few achieve. I think it says a lot about his ability to write and to make beautifully rounded characters. I wish this was a full length novel, because it’s simply wonderful.