Monday, May 20, 2013

"Lord Arthur Savile's Crime"

"Lord Arthur Savile's Crime: A Study of Duty"
by Oscar Wilde
from Late Victorian Gothic Tales

Well, you can tell it was written by the author of The Picture of Dorian Gray, that much I can tell you.  Otherwise... it's an odd story.  Maybe that's to be expected of any inclusion in a collection of gothic tales-- but part of what makes it odd is that it lacks that gothic atmosphere.  It seems more of a dark comedy than your typical creepy story-- not at all what I was expecting.  Wilde's biting wit makes several appearances, and those are the tale's high points.

This strikes me as one of those stories that might have felt more original (and therefore effective) in the time it was written.  To this modern reader, at least, the twist was (sadly) predictable, the "big reveal" anticlimactic. 

-- If nothing else, this story taught me that a "cheiromantist" is/was a palm-reader.  I'm sure that information will serve me well in days to come.  ;o)

--  "...on the staircase stood several Royal Academicians, disguised as artists..."

--  "...the Duchess, trying to remember what a cheiromantist really was, and hoping it was not the same as a cheiropodist."

--  "Most men and women are forced to perform parts for which they have no qualifications.  Our Guildensterns play Hamlet for us, and our Hamlets have to jest like Prince Hal.  The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast."

--  "'I had no notion that Lady Clementina liked sweets.  I thought she was far too intellectual.'"  Oof.  I must be an absolute dunce, then, with my sweet-tooth!