ABSTRACT

U ntil 1887 Oscar Wilde had primarily published poems and essays about art and literature with a fair amount of success, but it was only after he started writing fairy tales that he developed condence in his unusual talents as a prose writer. In fact, the fairy-tale form enabled him to employ his elegant style and keen wit to give full expression both to his philosophy of art and his critique of English high society. Therefore, it is not by chance that all his fairy tales, published between 1888 and 1891, coincided with the publication of his remarkable novel The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), perhaps his nest achievement in prose. However, his stories were not just decorative stepping stones to this novel but more like nely chiseled gems that have been recognized as among the best of the fairy-tale genre. Moreover, they are almost prophetic in the manner that they depict the suffering that Wilde himself was to endure in the years to come because of his refusal to moderate his homosexual behavior or to abandon his role as an avant-garde writer.