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Canterville Ghost, The

Press:North South Books Michael Neugebauer (North South Books); 1 edition (November 1, 1996)
Author Name:Wilde, Oscar/ Zwerger, Lisbeth (ILT)


Oscar Wilde was the master of the studied insult. 
His jabs at hypocrisy, pretense and boring conventionality still have a penetrating power.
His snubs and put-downs became the talk of his time, no less by his targets than by Wilde himself.
This illustrated collection features over 750 of his biting comments.

From Booklist

Although first published in 1891, this ghost story remains a classic of Wildean wit and Victorian sentimentality.
True, some of the references to melodrama and nineteenth-century Anglo-American attitudes may elude modern readers, but the basic story of a hardheaded American family that buys a haunted British manor house and proceeds to drive the resident ghost nearly crazy with its skepticism is still a delight, as are Wilde's epigrams: "We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language." Austrian illustrator Zwerger, a master of the exquisite line, has captured the look of the period and the liveliness of the story in this oversize volume.
Michael Cart

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'Paranormal activity at Wilde's Canterville. 
When it comes to handling ghosts, the characters in Oscar Wilde's The Canterville Ghost (in a new recording from Naxos AudioBooks) are far bolder than Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol.
When Marley's ghost comes rattling his chains, you may remember, the old miser drops his gruffness in the face of his old associate's awful warnings.
Not Wilde's Hiram B.
Otis, an 'American minister' who purchases an English country house and moves in with his family despite dire warnings that it is haunted.
The ghost, Sir Simon Canterville - who's been scaring the daylights out of the house's inhabitants since his death in 1584 - wastes no time in mounting a haunt.
In the dead of night, Otis hears chains clanking in the halls and beholds an awful sight: Right in front of him he saw, in the wan moonlight, an old man of terrible aspect.
His eyes were as red burning coals; long grey hair fell over his shoulders in matted coils; his garments, which were of antique cut, were soiled and ragged, and from his wrists and ankles hung heavy manacles and rusty gyves.
'My dear sir,' said Mr.
Otis, 'I really must insist on your oiling those chains, and have brought you for that purpose a small bottle of the Tammany Rising Sun Lubricator.' Oiling those chains! Rupert Degas is pitch-perfect in the Naxos recording -quite a departure from some of his previous Naxos recordings, including Cormac McCarthy's The Road and Kafka's The Trial.
The grimness and desperation of those stories is far from the desperation Sir Simon faces with the Otises.
No matter what he does, he can't bloody well scare them! The couple's twins boys hit him in the knees with pea-shooters, and, when Mrs.
Otis hears the ghost's terrible laugh, her reaction is: 'I am afraid you are far from well ...
and have brought you a bottle of Dr.
Dobell's tincture.
If it is indigestion, you will find it a most excellent remedy.'
 Degas captures the nasally voices of the Americans (for Wilde, Americans are the ones with the accents) and Sir Simon's exasperated harrumphs - which turn, later, into sighs of relief as somebody finally pities him: the Otises' daughter, Virginia.
Degas gives listeners a hilarious performance that's an ideal antidote for the shivers if you've seen Paranormal Activity.' - Nick Owchar, Los Angeles Times 'British actor Degas' gift for accents and flair for the dramatic make him an excellent choice to read Wilde's beloved gothic ghost story set in Great Britain.
A ghost has been haunting residents at Canterville Chase for centuries.
But these poltergeist powers seem lost on the Otis family from America.
Degas' reading is lively, brisk, and laced with just the right amount of foreboding, and he subtly raises pitch during suspenseful moments.
Degas gives Mr.
Otis the deep, monotone, matter-of-fact tenor of a dull diplomat, while he portrays Mrs.
Otis, a Manhattan socialite, in a much higher register, pretentious and pinched.
The ghost, frustrated and world-weary over failure to frighten, is appropriately raspy and guttural.
Each chapter is introduced by classical music and abundant sound effects - rattling chains, creaking floorboards, thunder and lightning - to greatly enhance the mood.
Perfect for a dark and stormy night.' - Allison Block, Booklist Anyone who is only familiar with the old Margaret O'Brien and Charles Laughton movie version or one of the more recent versions of The Canterville Ghost will enjoy meeting the Otises and the ghostly Sir Simon as Wilde actually envisioned them.
When the American Minister to the court of St.
James purchases Canterville Chase and is warned of the ghost, he declines to believe in it and says he will 'take the furniture and the ghost at evaluation.' As Sir Simon proceeds to haunt (and he has fearsomely haunted before) he comes to believe in him, but he and his family will brook no nonsense.
They give him something to oil his noisy chains.
The twin sons bedevil him, and the daughter takes pity on him.
Rupert Degas is an excellent narrator with his fine cultured British voice as the present Lord Canterville, the past Sir Simon, and with a pretty good set of American accents for all members of the Otis family, male and female - This is such fun to hear the authentic and brilliant Wilde and it is very enjoyable family listening for all ages.
- Mary Purucker, SoundCommentary.com

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was an Irish-born poet, dramatist, and novelist. 
His works include collections of fairy stories; the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray; and many brilliantly witty plays, including what is often considered to be his masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest.


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Comment List (Total:15)

  •     When you think of a ghost story, you probably think it's going to be scary, but this definitely was an enjoyable, funny yet compassionate short book. This isn't a book about the paranormal and regardless if you believe in it or not, this book is about feelings!!! For the price of free, I'd recommend for anyone to read!

  •     I liked it for a quick read.

  •     It is really a short story and an easy read. Wilde has a very sarcastic, sharp wit. You get a lot for an hour of your time.

  •     This is a classic story in true Oscar Wilde wit and flair. It's both hautning and funny. It's a fairy tale for all ages. In this story a young American girl helps to free the tormented spirit that haunts an old English castle. It's very well written and a beautiful tale for all ages.Let me start by saying I LOVE Oscar Wilde. I LOVE his work. Love it. I've even pre-ordered the British DVD of Dorian Gray with Ben Barnes since it never had a US release and I trained my computer to be able to play region 2 DVDs. I know it's not very faithful to the books but it has to be better than the 2006 version that was badly acted and made Basil a woman and set it in the 1960s.My two favourite works by Oscar Wilde are The Picture of Dorian Gray and the novella, The Canterville Ghost.The plot of The Canterville Ghost is pretty straight forward. A very theatrical old ghost haunts a castle in rural England. Turns out he murdered his wife so he was starved to death and cursed. An American family moves into the castle and the story becomes a funny spoof of British propriety and American commercialism as the American family annoys the Hell out of the ghost trying to scare them away.The ghost ends up befriending the teenage daughter of the family, fifteen-year-old, Virginia Otis. A prophecy is discovered:'When a gentle girl can winPrayer from out the lips of sin,When a child gives up tearsAnd the barren almond bears,When the silent chapel bellSounds the ghostly sinner's knellThen shall the house be stillAnd peace shall come to Canterville.'And needless to say Virginia helps the ghost, Sir Simon de Canterville, to move on. There's also a sweet little subplot where she ends up with the young duke whom lives near by. This subplot is expanded in the 1996 film adaptation. Many films leave it out all together. It's a simple story and very sweet though I do actually feel Patrick Stewart's version is a lot more sympathetic than his own book counter part whom at points didn't seem to regret killing his wife at all really and was a bit petty too. Though I do still love the book I ust feel Patrick Stewart added something to the character of Sir Simon de Cantervllle that originally wasn't there.

  •     Excellent read.

  •     Has all the elements of a good story. Humor, drama, mystery, and love. I laughed, I cried, I was intrigued.

  •     This is like a shirt version booklet. I've read the original and it was far longer than this. I can read this one in one hr.

  •     One never suspects that a ghost might have difficult times too.

  •     A pleasant fancy by Oscar Wilde, in the vein of his other somewhat sad fairy-tales. Reminded me of "The Happy Prince" in its general tone. Quite short... I'm not show how they ever made a movie from it.

  •     Ghosts are rarely appreciated and often feared or made fun of rather than rightfully pitied for the state they are stuck in, as this wonderful story points out.

  •     It was a fun read but too short to be able to connect to any characters. If you're looking for a short read go for it.

  •     An amusing story in typical Wilde style of an ancient English ghost confronting a stolid down-to-earth American family who refuse to be frightened by his outlandish antics. The despondent ghost finally decides to return to the fields of the dead and is aided in this last venture by Georgina Otis, the lovely daughter of the American politician. In return, he gives her a box of priceless jewels which become the topic of all the high society dos. Written in ornate, nineteenth century English, the book is a treat for those interested in the beauties of the English language. However, the story which is sparkling and witty in the first half begins to pall, in fact, get rather tedious and overly sentimental in the second. All said and done, the book is worth a read if one can tolerate Wilde's wordiness.

  •     Oscar Wilde, <strong>The Canterville Ghost</strong> (Public Domain Books, 1906)Oscar Wilde's supernaturally comedic classic has been made into any number of movies (and despite this, I have somehow only seen a low-budget Polish version that was made for television, but which is quite enjoyable), so I've heard about it roughly ten thousand times, but I had never actually gotten round to reading it until now. It's not as spiked with quotable lines as <em>The Picture of Dorian Gray</em> or <em>The Importance of Being Earnest</em>, but it's still snappy and fun, until it's ruined by a characteristically moral ending (tacked on, one assumes, in order to make the book palatable to Victorian audiences). Useless ending aside, however, it's still fun, and worth reading; a short introduction to Wilde that gives you a good feel for his writing. ***

  •     So Imaginative!!

  •     Really enjoyed his other works, but this one was difficult for me to become engrossed in.


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