May 2017 bring us lots of stuff to learn ! Let’s start from now with a bilingual classic !
The Canterville Ghost, or Le Fantôme de Canterville in French, was the first short story by Oscar Wilde to be published. It appeared in two parts in The Court and Society Review in 1887.
The eponym character is a ghost called Sir Simon. When the american family Otis buys Canterville Chase, its former owner tells them it has been haunted for centuries by Sir Simon Canterville who murdered his wife and was starved to death by his wife’s brothers. However, for the first time, the ghost fails at frightening the inhabitants of the castle, no matter how hard he tries. Losing against the modern and pragmatic nature of the Otis family, Sir Simon feels humiliated and helpless. Then, surprinsingly, Virginia, the daughter of Mr Otis, shows concern for Sir Simon’s despair and becomes his friend.
Oscar Wilde, with his signature wit, uses and abuses of clichés in order to ridicule the caricatural visions of Gothic literature and American people which were common at his time. The Canterville Ghost is a sweet and funny short-story which conveys, beyond parody, a message on the importance of love. As a consequence, reading this could give you an insight on XIXth century Gothic literature and Oscar Wilde’s style.
It can be read three times in row -in French, with the CD and in English- without much time nor effort, which makes it a painless way to improve your language skills.
In case you’d like to know more…
A French translation of this post is available here.