the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘Oscar Wilde’ Category

 

Will the person who mentioned this story to me please stand up?  Someone recommended or mentioned Wilde’s The Canterville Ghost, either on their blog or a comments section somewhere or on twitter, or maybe I read about this on tor.com or somewhere else, and I want to know who recommended this to me, so I can thank them.

I’m not sure if this story qualifies as vintage science fiction.  It was written more than 100 years ago, so it’s certainly vintage, but it isn’t very SF-y or even fantasy-y. It is a humorous ghost story.  In a round about way, i guess Oscar Wilde’s The Canterville Ghost is an ancestor of light hearted urban fantasy, non-horror ghost stories, and maybe even Casper the Friendly Ghost type stories?  It might also be an ancestor of another ghost story, but I’ll get to that one later! 

 

The Canterville Ghost isn’t very long and you can read it over at Project Gutenberg and there’s a free audio version on LibriVox as well.  Published in 1887 in the magazine The Court and Society Review, this story was Wilde’s first published fiction (he’d already published plenty of poetry).  The gist of the story is pretty straight forward – An American family is getting ready to purchase an English Country house.  The American father, Hiram B. Otis, isn’t pushed off when told that the house is haunted, he’s happy to buy the home, the furniture, and the ghost!

Mr. Otis and his family of Mrs. Otis, their oldest son Washington, their daughter Virginia, and their younger twin sons,  promptly move in, and are greeted by the ghost’s famous blood stain on the living room floor. 

 

What follows is a laugh out loud story of the ghost, Sir Simon, and his old fashioned attempts to scare away this decidedly modern American family.  Mr and Mrs Otis take every opportunity for product placement,  the twin boys play hilarious (and kinda mean) tricks on the ghost, and poor ghostly Sir Simon is so out of his league he literally can’t even.  

 

Sir Simon tries the classic trick of rattling chains in the middle of the night.  He’s greeted by a disgruntled and sleepy Mr Otis who tells the ghost to stop being so loud because people are trying to sleep, and oh by the way here is some branded oil for your chains, have a nice evening chap.   When Sir Simon screams and  groans all night, he’s approached by a helpful Mrs. Otis, who offers him a branded tincture to help with his sore throat and supposed indigestion.  I’m not describing it well, but it is hilarious! 

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.