Oscar Wilde


The Canterville Ghost


Only a short read - more a novella than a novel. It falls very neatly into two, perhaps three distinct parts. I was quite surprised to see this lightest of comedies suddenly veer into, what?, light horror? A 'Twilight Zone' episode? After perhaps too many terroriser becomes victim incidents (definitely too predictable in our sit-com saturated culture) you turn a page, a door opens, and the ridiculously hapless spectre is transformed into a tragic figure. The comic ghost story drops its broad ironic humour to become a ghost story per se.


I can see some of the reasons for Wilde's popularity. The writing is elegant and the humour good natured. Ultimately no-one requires our contempt or censure, not even the gypsy vagrants. The digs at US vs. UK culture are confirmed as harmless fun as our paragon New World 'princess' enjoys her fairy tale wedding to British aristocracy.


It was refreshing to be able to share some innocent amusement with Wilde. It would be equally refreshing if some of his legion of disciples, such as Fry & Gatiss, could likewise string together a few chapters enjoying some common ground with a wide audience, rather than consistently alienating anyone with alternative sexual values.


March 07