Wilde 'The Happy Prince'

There is a strong case for arguing that the real Oscar Wilde is to be found in the slim volume entitled The Happy Prince and Other Tales which in 1888 was Wilde's first work to be professionally published. These five tales are in the form of children's stories, probably written for his own two sons, though the elder was only three years old at that time. It is significant, however, that he was later to declare, 'I had about as much intention of pleasing the British child as I had of pleasing the British public.' In other words, he wrote these stories to please himself, to express his genuine, innermost feelings about the human condition.


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Gielgud is superb throughout - a wonderfully Old School of acting way that lends exquisite class and sophistication to the readings. His accents are brilliant and his tone is set to both engage children and fascinate and enchant adults.

The Oscar Wilde disc, which includes the Happy Prince, The Rose and the Nightingale, The Selfish Giant, The Devoted Friend and The Remarkable Rocket, are as desperately sad and poignant as listeners will remember from childhood. I cannot think of a better and more expressive and nostalgic voice to narrate these than Gielgud’s. They are interspersed with musical excerpts by Vaughan Williams, Granados, Ravel and even Shostakovich. These have been carefully chosen and work very well with the tales. These are excellent - and historically important - discs that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend for children and adults alike.

Em Marshall, Musicweb-international.com

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