The Little Black Classics have turned out to be some excellent and quick reads. Moreover, they are great because they offer a chance to read some lesser-known works of these authors. Indeed, I wasn't familiar with none of these three works, although I admire all three of them. There is at least one novel by Oscar Wilde, D.H. Lawrence and Thomas Hardy in my all-time favourite books list. So, I was eager to read Little Black Classics #59, #71 and #14.
Lord Arthur Savile's Crime by Oscar Wilde
This is a funny, but also a quite dark short story. Lord Arthur Savile has his fortune told at a social gathering. The palm reader informs him that in his future he will murder someone. But Lord Arthur is due to get married and in order to save his wife-to-be from the future distress, he starts planning a murder right away.
Oscar Wilde can write a comedy like no-one else. I first observed this in The Importance of Being Earnest, then in Lady Windemere's Fan and now in this short story. As usual, Wilde's writing style is brilliant. It's witty, fast-paced and full of irony. Lord Arthur is touched by what is written on his palm, but he doesn't do anything to prevent it. He just accepts that this is a fact and so he wants to get on with it, so he can continue his life. In fact, there wasn't a single moment in the short story when Arthur didn't have a choice. The ultimate question is whether our destiny is predetermined or we create it.
Lord Arthur Savile's Crime is a quirky and enjoyable read. I recommend it to everybody!
Il Duro by D.H. Lawrence
This little book contains four short narratives about Lawrence's travels in Italy. In these narratives, the author describes mostly the people he met, their conversations and his thoughts. I liked it that it wasn't a typical description of the scenery.
From the four of them, I liked best the first one, The Spinner and the Monks. In this one, I could find the Lawrence I learnt to love from his novel. Her world was clear and absolute, without consciousness of self. She was not self-conscious because she was not aware that there was anything in the universe except her universe. In her universe, I was a stranger, a foreign signore. But, the main problem for me was the lack of a story. These weren't short stories, a creation of the imagination of the author, but the stories of the people he met and those weren't that interesting.
All in all, this is not D.H. Lawrence's best work. That's why I would recommend it only to those who are familiar with his other works.
Woman Much Missed by Thomas Hardy
This Little Black Classic was a surprise to me. I've read Far for the Madding Crowd and Tess of the D'Urbervilles, but I wasn't familiar with Thomas Hardy's poetry. Now I realise what I was losing all this time!
This selection of poems includes among others the Poems 1912-1913, which were inspired by the loss of Hardy's wife. They were all heartfelt and very moving. The pain and loss of the poet are apparent.
The poems I liked the best were The Voice, We Sat at the Window, He Prefers Her Earthly, She Did Not Turn, If You Had Known and Days to Recollect.
If you are in the mood for some poetry, this is a book for you. It's highly recommended!