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The Fairy Tales Of Oscar Wilde vol 4: The Devoted Friend, The Nightingale And The Rose h/c

The Fairy Tales Of Oscar Wilde vol 4: The Devoted Friend, The Nightingale And The Rose h/c back

Oscar Wilde & P. Craig Russell

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Page 45 Review by Stephen

My Mum’s favourite graphic novel of all time is P. Craig Russell’s adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s THE HAPPY PRINCE, so beautifully does it evoke unconditional love, self-sacrifice and caring for others. So impressed was she by its beauty, its dignity and its poignancy that she asked for the rest in the series. This, at the time of typing, is all that remains in print.

It’s heartbreaking. Both tales once more involve self-sacrifice, but in the first one struggling young man’s generosity is abused horrifically and in the second a bird’s goes unacknowledged. Worse still, the pain that is endured to help a love-struck student secure a dance is excruciating as a nightingale seeks a single red rose and alights upon a bush whose veins have been chilled by winter and whose buds have been nipped by frost. There will be no blooms this year, unless…

“If you want a red rose you must build it out of music by moon light, and stain it with your own heart’s blood. You must sing to me with your breast against a thorn. All night long you must sing to me, and the thorn must pierce your heart, and your life-blood must flow into my veins and become mine.”
“Death is a great price to pay for a read rose and life is very dear to all,” considers the nightingale. “Yet love is better than life… and what is the heart of a bird compared to the heart of a man?”

What follows is absolutely shattering – the student’s dismissive oblivion, the nightingale’s excruciating trial and the fate of the rose itself – all the more so on account of Russell’s fine judgement over what to depict and how.

As to ‘The Devoted Friend’, it is the story of a poor but industrious gardener called Hans whose rich, idle, self-regarding neighbour preaches high-mindedly about the duties of friendship whilst practising all the altruism of a common thief. The miller’s sermons are full of self-justification in denying Hans hospitality or credit for flour, while emotionally blackmailing young Hans to give more of himself than he can possibly afford. Most affectingly of all, Hans would do anything to please and couldn’t bear to be thought of falling short in friendship. No, it’s not that: he couldn’t bear to fall short in friendship, regardless of what others might think.

“It is certainly a great privilege to hear you talk. But I am afraid I shall never have such beautiful ideas as you have.”
“Oh! They will come to you. At present you have only the practice of friendship. Some day you will have the theory also.”

Oscar Wilde: utterly charming whilst effortlessly scathing.

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