Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Remarkable Rocket

Have you bought your Fourth of July fireworks yet? Whether you have or not, might I suggest reading, in honor of the holiday, Oscar Wilde's short story "The Remarkable Rocket"?

I am thoroughly in love with this story. It features a frog, a duck, and a whole lot of fireworks (including the titular rocket) who all talk with Wildean wit, and I hope I don't have to explain why that's so awesome. It must have the highest number of aphorisms per page of any short story in the English language. It is completely charming, and deserves to be better known.

Tom Stoppard's play The Invention of Love contrasts Wilde with A.E. Housman, who exemplified opposite ways of living as gay men in late-Victorian England. Which is worse: to lead a long life of inhibition and suppressed sexuality (Housman) or to live flamboyantly only to be punished for it (Wilde)? "Better a fallen rocket than never a burst of light," Stoppard has Wilde say.

Could this image be inspired by Wilde's short story? I wonder. And I also think that The Remarkable Rocket: The Life of Oscar Wilde would be a great title. If the world needed another Wilde biography, that is.

But don't just take my word for it. Try it!

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