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:
10 thoughts on “True Friends?”
I havent read this book yet but do Love other writings by Oscar Wilde! Thanks for sharing this review- marked for a read during this year.
thank you Shalz.. this was my first time reading this short story as well.
I have always read, enjoyed, acted in, and watched Wilde’s plays. I admit to have skipped over much of his other contributions. I will use your link to enjoy this one- thanks!
Roy, yes, I have a few of his works to complete as well, and hope to do it one at a time. 🙂
I became interested in Oscar Wilde in the late 1980’s, after “randomly” seeing the film version The Picture of Dorian Gray in the middle of the night once. I went out and bought the book, then everything else by him. The Devoted Friend is one story I’ve only read once, but there are many other of his stories/fairy tales that I’ve read multiple times. The Selfish Giant and The Happy Prince are two of my favorites.
Jay, Oscar Wilde has been my favorite forever, it seems like, since I read the two stories you mention while all of maybe 10 years old (and they both are among my favorites as well, along with ‘The Nightingale and the Rose’). The Devoted Friend – I picked this as I had not read it before at all …
Interesting! I haven’t read it, but I like the idea of a story within a story and the possibility that readers end up thinking about the way they value their own friendships.
thanks Jeanine.. this was a harsh look at “friendships” but definitely a needed one so people are reminded to be wary while at the same time making friends
One of my favorites! Thanks for the great review.
thank you Martha.. always love to hear from you