Thursday, December 8, 2011

"The Happy Prince" by Oscar Wilde

Source: Spoken Alexandria (mp3)
Length: 25 min
Reader: Alex Wilson

The story: Children's stories are a convenient framework to present a fable about life in the world of adults. This is what Oscar Wilde does in this famous short story. Like Hard Times, "The Happy Prince" presents the despair of poverty and greed of the rich.

The Prince of the title is a statue of a man who was wealthy in life, but now sees the sadness of the poor from the vantage point of his pedestal. His companion is a sparrow who has delayed in flying south with the rest of his flock and decides to help the prince to alleviate the suffering of the people of the city. The story has the melancholy feel of Shel Silverstein's "The Giving Tree".

Would this be a good story for modern children? Perhaps. Depressing stories seem to have fallen out of favor recently as parents try to shelter their children against a depressing world, but the lessons of empathy for others is one that everyone, both children and adults, need to learn.

Rating: 8 / 10

The reader: Wilson is an outstanding performer of short stories. He voices the creatures and people of this story with such great characterizations that they almost become real. The voice of the birds is an especially expressive one. The recording is superbly engineered and provided in several formats other than the mp3 directly linked above.

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