For the Short Story Reading Challenge – Deal Me In 2018, here is my pick this week.
The Card: K of Hearts
The Selection: ‘The Devoted Friend’ – A short story by Oscar Wilde – I love Oscar Wilde and have read a few of his stories but know that I have many more to read. I ended up picking one I had not read before and as with all of his other stories that I have read, this story was truly moving.
GoodReads Description: “The Devoted Friend” is a short fairy tale written by Oscar Wilde. The tale concerns Big Hugh, the miller, and his best friend Hans. The story is told by a linnet to a water-rat following a conversation about what it means to be a devoted friend.
My Thoughts: This short is a story within a story, where a linnet is trying to show what a devoted friend to the water-rat by narrating the story of Little Hans and the rich miller. The story highlights friendship, and how it can mean different things to different people, and how people value friends and friendship differently. It is a very telling cautionary tale, reminding us to focus on true friendships, and not the ones which end up being one-sided. With the rich Miller taking advantage of Little Hans in the name of true friendship, and not doing a single thing in return for Hans, this also might serve as a reflection of how capitalistic societies function too.
Wilde truly excels in teaching through stories where lessons remain unlearned, good deeds are not rewarded, and stories end with often frustrating ends for the reader (oh, if only!, why this?, but what happened to?). In spite of this, the reader is left enriched with life and its varying emotions portrayed oh-so-beautifully in Wilde’s masterful words tinged with the right amounts of wit and satire.
Lessons you can learn from this: It is OK to say NO; in today’s world where fitting in, being accepted, being liked is what many seek, it is important to ensure that you fit in without a high cost to yourself; that kindness, thoughtfulness, giving to others, and friendships are important, yes, but we need to learn not to con/be conned; that reciprocity makes relationships stronger; that we need to ensure our vanity or our need to be a friend does not blind us to mistakes we make (like in Hans case, giving at high costs to himself; and in the Miller’s case, preaching without practicing).
I read this story here. I also discovered this delightful comic version (a series, actually) that exists and am looking forward to checking it out.
To sum it up, if you have not read Wilde before, do it now! Read anything – his short stories, his plays (love ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ and ‘An Ideal Husband’), his novel (‘Picture of Dorian Gray’). Simply brilliant!
If you have read Oscar Wilde, which is your favorite read of his? Let me know..
Over at That Artsy Reader Girl, today’s Top Ten Theme is Books that have been there forever on my TBR. So here is my list: