Oscar Wilde was already famous as a brilliant wit and raconteur when he first began to publish his short stories in the late 1880s. Admired by George Orwell and W. B. Yeats, the stories include poignant fairy-tales such as "The Happy Prince" and "The Selfish Giant," the extravagant comedy of "Lord Arthur Savile's Crime" and "The Canterville Ghost," and the daring narrative experiments of "The Portrait of Mr. W. H.," Wilde's fictional investigation into the identity of the dedicatee of Shakespeare's sonnets. John Sloan's Introduction argues for Wilde's originality and literary achievement as a short-story writer, emphasizing his literary skill and sophistication, and arguing for the centrality of Wilde's shorter fiction in his literary career. The collection includes a useful and up-to-date bibliography and extensive and helpful explanatory notes, and an Appendix reprints an important passage from the book-length version of "The Portrait of Mr. W. H." on the Neo-Platonic ideal of friendship between men, an important key to the short story's meaning.
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