Monday, March 17, 2008

Reader's Diary #335- Oscar Wilde: The Model Millionaire

Short Story Monday

A few years ago I read The Picture of Dorian Gray after hearing Ron Hynes sing a song of the same name. I enjoyed both a great deal and I looked forward to reading a short story by Wilde, looked forward to more of that legendary wit and social commentary.

Sadly, I found little of both in "The Model Millionaire."

It started off strong, introducing the reader to Hughie Erskine who, despite being a decent and likable fellow, isn't all that well off financially. And as Wilde lets us know up front, "Unless one is wealthy there is no use in being a charming fellow."

To make matters worse, Hughie has fallen in love with Laura Merton whose retired Colonel father will not consent him to marry until he has 10 000 pounds to his credit.
Enter the painter friend Trevor (who reminded me of the aforementioned novel) and his beggar-model.

All of this seemed like an interesting premise, but the hackneyed finale destroyed it all. Recently on her blog, Chris lamented the loss of the happy ending (albeit she restricted her diagnosis to Canadian Literature). I agreed with her, but I renege if it means we go back to such endings as found in "The Model Millionaire."

The Soundtrack:
1. I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got- Sinéad O'Connor
2. Oh! The Breeches Full of Stitches- The Chieftains
3. Only If... - Enya
4. Lonesome Highway- Rory Gallagher
5. The Lucky One- Paddy Casey


Anonymous said...

Most of Wilde's short stories, I think, are of the sappy sentimental moralistic variety. Only the mysteries have a bit of spice and humour to them, although not the barbed kind one is used to from his plays. Not sure of the date of those works relative to his plays but in his first drama Vera you can see some of the dregs of that style.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

What a shallow and lazy ending! Oscar, what happened? I thought you were supposed to be such a rebel! I guess that was only in your personal life.

John Mutford said...

Imani: And here I thought you were a fan-- not so much for the short stories, I guess. I haven't read any plays of his.

Barbara: And his personal life was pretty rebellious wasn't it?

Anonymous said...

I am a fan -- that's why I've read most of the short stories. :P That doesn't mean I can't judge whether a favourite author has fallen short of his potential.