Book Diary: The Canterville Ghost / El Fantasma de Canterville (Oscar Wilde)

I remember being taken to see The Importance of Being Ernest when I was a kid, but apart from that Oscar Wilde is an author who has managed to pass me by for one reason or another.  This is something that seems to shock people here in Madrid; that as a native English speaker there are certain, very famous Anglophones that I haven’t read (although it usually at this point that they admit that they haven’t read Don Quijote either).  It was for this reason that this short story was thrust upon me when it was donated to the book shop where I volunteer, and the reason that I have ended up reading Oscar Wilde for the first time, not in the original, but in Spanish.

It has been an experience, made all the more interesting because – thanks to a very good Spanish-English dictionary – I have learnt many new English words.  Never in my life before have I come across the words: ‘wainscoting’, ‘mortmain’ or ‘trencher’, nor have I ever worn ‘list-slippers’ or a ‘frilled winding-sheet’.  I have yet to ‘drive’ anyone ‘to bay’, hold aloft a ‘falchion’ or clasp a ‘dimity bed-curtain’.  Clearly I haven’t lived.

I have everything in common with English except the language.  And I thought I was here to learn Castellano.



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