Book #22

Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime by Oscar Wilde

Wilde's supremely witty tale of dandies, anarchists and a murderous prophecy in London high society. 

This is a wonderful satiric gothic parody by Wilde, poking fun at the fashions and entertainment of the upper class, their inability to do anything other than what they’re told, and their complete lack of sense when faced with a predicament.

Lord Arthur has his palm read during a get-together at Lady Windemere’s. Having been told he will commit a murder, rather than passing this off as a load of hocus pocus, he instead goes off and plans the murder. He prefers this to happen as soon as possible as god forbid his wedding to Sybil Merton is affected by scandal. After all, the lines in his hand have predicted the crime - why not get it over with?

What follows is a hilarious trail of failures which contribute to Lord Arthur’s despondency and a number of postponements to the wedding. His murder attempts become more and more outlandish, and as each of them fail, the mental state of Lord Arthur is further exposed to us. His pure obedience to carry out his perceived destiny frustrates both himself, and the reader, yet the mishaps encountered make it all worthwhile, for us at least. Wilde’s finale is perfect in timing and delivery; both hilarious and bleak, it underlines the satiric commentary on high society fads.

Wilde shows us the nonsense in Lord Arthur accepting a fate foretold by a performer at a party. The pages are peppered with comical dialogue, dark humour, and Wildean wit. An absolute joy.