The Canterville Ghost and Other Stories

( 3 )

Overview

Britain's most popular nineteenth century playwright Oscar Wilde was born in Ireland in 1854. He dabbled in several different forms of writing, as is exemplified in his best known work, the novel entitled "The Picture of Dorian Gray." He also wrote in the form of short fiction stories, like "The Canterville Ghost." In this tale, a family of proud Americans come into possession of a historic English mansion. However, the mansion is haunted by murderous ghost who despises the Americans. Yet the more the ghost tries...
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The Canterville Ghost and Other Stories

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Overview

Britain's most popular nineteenth century playwright Oscar Wilde was born in Ireland in 1854. He dabbled in several different forms of writing, as is exemplified in his best known work, the novel entitled "The Picture of Dorian Gray." He also wrote in the form of short fiction stories, like "The Canterville Ghost." In this tale, a family of proud Americans come into possession of a historic English mansion. However, the mansion is haunted by murderous ghost who despises the Americans. Yet the more the ghost tries to scare them away, the less they are afraid. Instead, they turn to cleaning products and other methods to get rid of the mess that the ghost continually makes over time. While being highly entertaining and comical, the story is also a social commentary on both Americans and the British. The Americans act boorish and unnerved by the ghost and instead view him as a pest which is trying to disrupt their idyllic country life. The ghost, however, wants to preserve his legacy as the terrifying ghost, but is instead batted down by the uninterested Americans. This story, combined with four other short tales as well as six poems, create the enjoyable collection of "The Canterville Ghost and Other Stories."

A celebrated and feared English ghost is outraged when the new American owners of his haunting place refuse to take him seriously and actually fight back against him.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up Lovers of Oscar Wilde's stories will delight in this new illustrated version of The Canterville Ghost if the picture book format does not keep them from finding it. Wilde's story of an American family who moves into Canterville Chase and annoys a weary ghost with their lack of belief in him is a wry commentary on the ways of British nobility and of their hard-headed American cousins. Like many of Wilde's tales, this one is filled with sophisticated allusions to his social and political milieu, but ends as sentimental romance. Zwerger's wry pictures highlight this tone beautifully. Her toothless ghost is round and comical, as would suit a ghost whom no one fears, and her heroine, Virginia, is young and sweetly boyish. All of the illustrations are set against misty gray watercolor backgrounds except for the climactic scene, echoed on the front cover, in which the tiny huntsmen on the wallpaper call out to Virginia to ``Go Back.'' This will make a fine read-aloud for audiences of secondary students who are prepared to savor Wilde's ironic humor and Zwerger's delicate watercolors. Barbara Chatton, College of Education, University of Wyoming, Laramie
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781420946819
  • Publisher: Neeland Media
  • Publication date: 1/1/2013
  • Pages: 56
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Oscar Wilde 1854-1900

Biography

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was born on October 16, 1854, to an intellectually prominent Dublin family. His father, Sir William Wilde, was a renowned physician who was knighted for his work as medical adviser to the 1841 and 1851 Irish censuses; his mother, Lady Jane Francesca Elgee, was a poet and journalist. Wilde showed himself to be an exceptional student. While at the Royal School in Enniskillen, he took First Prize in Classics. He continued his studies at Trinity College, Dublin, on scholarship, where he won high honors, including the Demyship Scholarship to Magdalen College, Oxford.

At Oxford, Wilde engaged in self-discovery, through both intellectual and personal pursuits. He fell under the influence of the aesthetic philosophy of Walter Pater, a tutor and author who inspired Wilde to create art for the sake of art alone. It was during these years that Wilde developed a reputation as an eccentric and a foppish dresser who always had a flower in his lapel. Wilde won his first recognition as a writer when the university awarded him the Newdigate Prize for his poem "Ravenna."

Wilde went from Oxford to London, where he published his first volume of verse, Poems, in 1881. From 1882 to 1884, he toured the United States, Ireland, and England, giving a series of lectures on Aestheticism. In America, between speaking engagements, he met some of the great literary minds of the day, including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Walt Whitman. His first play, Vera, was staged in New York but did poorly. After his marriage to Constance Lloyd in 1884 and the birth of his two sons, Wilde began to make his way into London's theatrical, literary, and homosexual scenes. He published Intentions, a collection of dialogues on aesthetic philosophy, in 1891, the year he met Lord Alfred Douglas, who became his lover and his ultimate downfall. Wilde soon produced several successful plays, including Lady Windermere's Fan (1892) and A Woman of No Importance (1893). Wilde's popularity was short-lived, however. In 1894, during the concurrent runs of his plays An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest, he became the subject of a homosexual scandal that led him to withdraw all theater engagements and declare bankruptcy. Urged by many to flee the country rather than face a trial in which he would surely be found guilty, Wilde chose instead to remain in England. Arrested in 1895 and found guilty of "homosexual offenses," Wilde was sentenced to two years hard labor and began serving time in Wandsworth prison. He was later transferred to the detention center in Reading Gaol, where he composed De Profundis, a dramatic monologue written as a letter to Lord Alfred Douglas that was published in 1905. Upon his release, Wilde retreated to the Continent, where he lived out the rest of his life under a pseudonym. He published his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol, in 1898 while living in exile.

During his lifetime, Wilde was most often the center of controversy. The Picture of Dorian Gray, which was serialized in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine in 1890 and published in book form the next year, is considered to be Wilde's most personal work. Scrutinized by critics who questioned its morality, the novel portrays the author's internal battles and arrives at the disturbing possibility that "ugliness is the only reality." Oscar Wilde died penniless, of cerebral meningitis, in Paris on November 30, 1900. He is buried in Paris's Père Lachaise Cemetery.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Good To Know

To make ends meet, Wilde edited the popular ladies' periodical Woman's Day from 1887 to 1889.

When in exile on the Continent, Wilde was forced to live under the alias Sebastian Melmoth.

It is rumored that Wilde's last written words were found in his journal, left behind in the Left Bank flophouse where he died: "My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has got to go."

Wilde is buried in the Paris cemetery of Père Lachaise; there, he keeps company with other famous artists, including Jim Morrison and Edith Piaf.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 16, 1854
    2. Place of Birth:
      Dublin, Ireland
    1. Date of Death:
      November 30, 1900
    2. Place of Death:
      Paris, France

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 11, 2013

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    Great classic!  Thanks to social media, I was recently reminded

    Great classic! 

    Thanks to social media, I was recently reminded of one of my favorite movies as a kid, The Canterville Ghost. I read the book when I was younger but really couldn’t remember much about it so I decided to curl up with it one afternoon and reread it. At 126 pages, it took me no time at all and I forgot how much I enjoyed the story. Geared toward a younger audience, the story is about a crotchety old ghost who takes great pleasure in scaring the tenants, maids, and visitors. He’d been quite successful for the 300 years he ambled the halls until an American family moved into the British manor and gave him a run for his money, and ultimately helping him find peace.




    ¿When I was a kid I remember thinking how funny it was that the children in the family were playing tricks on the ghost and how miserable he was. It never occurred to me that the book was actually a social satire that mocked Americans for their brash and rude behavior. For 300 years, Sir Simon de Canterville had been horrifying the good and proper Englishmen who resided in his home. Then the Americans show up and turn the tables on their resident ghost. The younger twins throw pillows at him while the adults treat him with indifference, all of which are infuriating to the ghost. The only beacon of light in the family is the elder daughter, Virginia, who takes pity on the chained ghost and ultimately helps him.




    Naturally, I immediately went to find the movie that I so loved as a kid when I finished the book. I had no idea that there were so many different versions. My favorite version is the 1985 TV movie with Richard Kiley, Brian Austin Green, and Kellie Martin…. but apparently it was trumped in YouTube popularity by the 1986 version with Alyssa Milano. So while I can’t find any clips of the one I so dearly loved, I did find this cheesy gem of a video of Alyssa Milano as the adorable Jennifer (who is actually Virginia, but we know which name was more popular in 1986). And is it just me, or does she remind you of Emma Watson?

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  • Posted January 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Ghost of a Sphinx for the Millionaire's Crime

    I really enjoyed all the short stories in this book. Wilde has such a great writing style. Just enough suspense and development to keep a reader truly interested in the tale. The stories will make you laugh out loud, look over your shoulder and wonder why no one seems to write like this anymore. A must read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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