The Young Know Everything: Oscar Wilde’s Fairy Tales as Children’s Literature
Oscar Wilde offered contradictory statements about whether the stories in his two collections of literary fairy tales, The Happy Prince and Other Tales (1888) and A House of Pomegranates (1891), are literature for children. Many commentators deny that they fit that category based on their perceptions of the tales’ complexity and their acceptance of common assumptions about the limited knowledge and ability of youngsters. Nodelman proposes instead to consider the tales in relation to his analysis in his book The Hidden Adult of the conventional characteristics of children’s literature. His close readings of the tales explore how they both express those characteristics and offer ironic commentary on them.