O.Wilde, Preface to 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'

The artist is the creator of beautiful things. (...)
Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.
Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope.
They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty.
There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all. (...)

No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything. (...)
All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.
Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.
It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.
Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital.
When critics disagree the artist is in accord with himself...

O. Wilde (1854-1900),
Preface to 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Agatha Christie, Life

Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller

15 Sep. 1890 – 12 Jan.1976

British crime writer of novels,
short stories and plays

                                                            Her life  (1890 – 1976)

Towards the end of the First World War, Agatha became a prolific
writer of mystery stories and, in fact, nowadays she is known
throughout the world as the Queen of Crime.  She is the author of
about 80 crime novels and short story collections, 19 plays, and
6 novels written under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott.
Her books have sold over a billion copies in the English
language with another billion in about 100  foreign languages. 
She is the most widely published author of all time in any language,
outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare.
Her mysteries are noted for clever and surprising twists of plot
and for the creation of two unconventional fictional detectives,
Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.

Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born in Torquay (on the Devon coast) in  1890 of  an English mother, Clara Boehmer  and  an American father, Frederick Alvah Miller.   (see: my blog Archieve) 
Agatha had a very happy childhood.  She had a house and a garden that she loved and that always had an important part in her life. She had a very wise and patient nanny too, Nursie, who became the most important figure in her early childhood. They were always together and mainly lived in the enchanting and marvellous world of the nursery (it was a special world which Agatha felt was there only for the two of them. Agatha was very close and affectionate to her nanny).
But Agatha had also the great fortune of two precious parents who greatly loved each other and their family. Their marriage was really successful and they had three children: Madge, Monty and Agatha.   (There was quite a difference in age between Agatha and her sister & brother: Monty was exactly 10 years older than her and Madge was probably born 3 or 4 years before Monty. Agatha didn’t spend much time with them as, when she was a child, they were studying in different colleges).
When Agatha was 5 years old her father began to be worried because of some financial difficulties. Coming from a wealthy family, he had always enjoyed a comfortable life and had never thought about business or about how to earn money.  He had always considered his income as an inalienable right. His own father had planned a complex system of trust which had to become effective after his death. So Fred had never been apprehensive about money. But then there was something wrong with the trustees, who were four old persons. As a matter of fact, someone among them behaved wrongly. Soon, someone managed to capitalize on it and the family’s financial situation got worse and worse. Fred became very distressed and, as a consequence, his health began to suffer from it, too.
In such a situation they had to save money. The best way to do that, at the time, was to go, for a while, abroad where the cost of living was lower. The regular procedure was to let out one’s whole house along with all the servants at a good price and to find a cheaper accommodation elsewhere. They did so and went to stay in a modest little hotel in the south of France.
So, when Agatha was 6, they rented Ashfield to a very rich American family and moved to Pau, in South France, where they stayed for about 6 months. Then, after a week in Paris, they spent the month of September at Dinard, in Bretagne by the sea, and then went to Guernsey  where they spent the following winter.
After that they decided to go back to Torquay and there Mr Christie’s health got really much worse.
Agatha’s father died when she was only 11, but nobody could tell exactly what the problem had been with him.
After his death, life changed at Ashfield. Agatha felt different and her childhood had suddenly stopped even if she was still very young. A year later her sister Madge got married and left the family and Monty was away, living on his own.   (Monty had always been a great worry for the family.  He didn’t succeed in his studies and in the end he became an officer and left to join the British army in South Africa. Then at the time of his father’s death, he was sent to India).  As a result, there was no more a family at Ashfield! There were only two people living together: a young girl and a middle-aged woman. The atmosphere was really very different. And after her father’s death, her mother began to suffer of heart attacks so the situation got really worse for young Agatha during that period. In any case, things got better later when Madge had a son and used to go to Ashfield on holidays with the baby, thus taking some ‘fresh air’ with her.
During her early teens Agatha was sent to Paris to attend special schools for girls. At first her mother followed her and so once again she let out Ashfield for a winter at a very good price. Later Agatha was sent to a special institute for young ladies where she could complete her education studying mainly music: her secret dream was to become an opera singer but unfortunately her studies concerning that matter were quite unsuccessful and put a definitive end to her original idea. Agatha was very happy in Paris and she learnt really a lot concerning both her education and life.
When she went back to England her mother (who unfortunately became soon very ill) encouraged her natural inclination to make up stories and write poetry.  And so,  young Agatha Miller turned soon to writing.
Because of her mother’s health they spent a winter in Egypt and once again they rented their house. Torquay was still a famous and fashionable seaside resort and rich families used to spend their winters there. So - still in a bad financial condition - it was very easy and convenient for them to let out their house, Ashfield.  In Egypt it was time for Agatha to come out and she often was invited to parties and balls.
In 1911 she met her future husband, Archibald Christie, a handsome pilot.  As both of them where very young and in financial difficulties, they had a troubled relationship: they wanted to marry but they couldn’t afford it.  However they succeeded in getting married in 1914  and Archie immediately enlisted in the war effort.
In his absence, Agatha worked in a hospital dispensary, an experience that would provide her with information (about people and drugs, to begin with!) that helped her later to plan her dark and violent crime stories.   
In her spare time at work she began writing a mystery story. Her first book was published in 1920 (towards the end of the first World War), ‘The Mysterious Affair at Styles’, introducing the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, the little brilliant and ingenious Belgian man with the egg shaped head and the impressive moustaches. Such a character was destined to become the most popular detective in crime fiction since Sherlock Holmes. 
In 1926, after averaging a book a year, Agatha Christie wrote what is still considered her masterpiece, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. (This was the first of her books to be published by William Collins and marked the beginning of author-publisher relationship which lasted for fifty years. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was also the first of Agatha Christie’s books to be dramatized – under the name ‘Alibi’ – and to have a successful run in London’s West End).
In the same year, Agatha Christie was at the centre of a mystery herself. She simply vanished and was thought kidnapped or dead, until she turned up at a resort hotel, registered under the name of Col. Christie’s lover. Agatha pleaded temporary amnesia, brought on by stress, and she would never discuss this bizarre incident. (This fact inspired a fictionalized 1979 film entitled ‘Agatha’ in which Vanessa Redgrave played the writer)   And if such an incident did anything positive, it bolstered Agatha Christie’s reputation with the public, as well as bringing to an end her unhappy marriage which ended in divorce in 1928.
In 1930, while travelling in the Middle East, Agatha met the distinguished English archaeologist Sir Max Mallowan. They were married that year.
And from that time on Agatha Christie, already very fond of archaeology, accompanied her husband on annual trips to Iraq and Syria, on his digs in the Middle East, serving as his assistant, and such experiences peppered her writing.
She used the expeditions, in fact, as material for Murder in Mesopotamia (1930), Death on the Nile (1937), and Appointment with Death (1938).  (Agatha Christie also wrote a few non-fiction works including an autobiography and the delightful ‘Come, Tell Me How You Live’, which celebrates the many expeditions she shared with her archaeologist husband).
When in England, they lived in a beautiful house in Devon, overlooking the river Dart, and they also had a house in London.
1930 was an important year also because Agatha Christie placed the irrepressible and relentless skilful detective Miss Jane Marple in her novel Murder at the Vicarage.
As to theatre, The Mousetrap - her most famous play of all - is the longest-running play in history. As a matter of fact, it has been running continuously on the London stage since 1952.  
Another important play was Witness for the Prosecution (1953; film 1957), for which she received the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for 1954-1955.
Her success was, and continues to be, unprecedented. Movies and TV adaptations renew interest in her books and plays.
Agatha Christie was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1971. 
In 1954, the Mystery Writers of America established their Grand Master award and, fittingly, made Agatha Christie its first recipient.
Agatha Christie died in 1976. Since then a number of books have been published posthumously: the bestselling novel Sleeping Murder, featuring the deceptively mild Miss Marple, appeared later that year (Agatha had disposed in her will that her last novel featuring Miss Marple had to be published after her death as she wanted her beloved character to survive her), followed by her autobiography and the short story collections Miss Marple’s Final Cases,   Problem at Pollensa Bay  and  While the Light Lasts.
In 1998 Black Coffee was the first of her plays to be novelised by another author, Charles Osborne.

Max Mallowan, life

Max Edgar Lucien

1904 – 1978

British archaeologist
(Middle Eastern history)

'An archaeologist is the best husband
any woman can have:
the older she gets,
the more interested he is in her'
                                                        Agatha Christie, 1954,
                                                                     about her husband Max Mallowan

Sir Max Edgar Lucien Mallowan, was a British archaeologist, specialized in ancient Middle Eastern history, and the second husband of Dame Agatha Christie, the famous writer. He became well-known as an educator too.

After receiving a degree in classics at New College, Oxford University, Max Mallowan began his long career as a field archaeologist.  His excavations were carried out in the Near East, at first as assistant to Sir Leonard Woolley at Ur (1925 – 1931). And Ur was the archaeological site where he first met Agatha Christie. They fell in love and got married in 1930.

In 1932, after a short time working at Nineveh with Reginald Campbell Thompson, Mallowan became a field director for a series of expeditions jointly run by the British Museum and the British School of Archaeology in Iraq.
He excavated for the British Museum at Tell Arpachiyah, a prehistoric village, and the sites at Chagar Bazar, and Tell Brak in the Upper Khabur area (Syria, 1932–8). He was also the first to excavate archaeological sites in the Balikh Valley, to the west of the Khabur basin.

During the Second World War he served with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in North Africa, being based for part of 1943 at the ancient city of Sabratha.

After the war, in 1947, he was appointed Professor of Western Asiatic Archaeology at the University of London, a position which he held until elected a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford in 1962. 1947 was a very important year for Max Mallowan as he also became director of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq (1947-1961).

As professor of Western Asiatic Archaeology at London University (1947–60), he excavated in the Near East, principally at Nimrud (previously excavated by A. H. Layard), with striking results described in detail in his two volumes Nimrud and its Remains, published later in the 60s. (During his excavation in Nimrud he made some important archaeological discoveries: he digged out the big Salamasar fortress and some palaces along with a lot of important objects). 

Agatha Christie's Come, Tell Me How You Live (1946) is an account of his digging in Syria (1934–8), and his own autobiography, Mallowan's Memoirs, appeared in 1977. An account of Mallowan’s work can be also found in his book Twenty-five Years of Mesopotamian Discovery (1956).

In 1976 Agatha Christie died and a year later Mallowan married his long-standing mistress, Barbara Hastings Parker. She was an archaeologist who had been his epigraphist at Nimrud, and Secretary of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq.

Max Edgar Lucien Mallowan,  was knighted  for  his achievements in 1968. He and his wife Dame Agatha Christie were among the small number of married couples, each of whom held knightly honors in their own right.

Mallowen died in 1978, at 74, only two years after Agatha Christie’s death. His widow Barbara, Lady Mallowan died in 1993, at the age of 85.
Max & Agatha

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Clara Boehmer & Frederick Alvah Miller. Life

Agatha Christie's parents

                     Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller
                     was born  in Torquay  (on the
                     Devon coast)  in  1890 of  an
                     English  mother, Clara Boehmer
                     and  an American father,
                     Frederick Alvah Miller.

Clara Boehmer didn’t have a happy childhood.  Her father, an officer, died after a bad fall from a horse leaving his wife, a beautiful 27-year-old widow, with four small children and a modest pension.  Her elder sister,  who had recently married a rich American, a Mr. Miller, offered to adopt one of her  children.   The young widow, full of worries, didn’t feel to renounce to such a kind proposal. And so she chose her only daughter Clara probably because she thought that, being a female, she needed a more comfortable life.
Agatha’s mother, Clara, left her house and family for North England, and entered a new house where she felt immediately an outsider. She felt abandoned and, little by little, she got a suspicious attitude towards life. Her auntie was a lovely and kind woman but not sensitive enough to children’s problems. And there Clara had the opportunity to be in a comfortable house and the possibility of a good education. But she missed and lost the cheerful and more natural life she had previously spent with her brothers in her natural home.
She was very sad in her new family and at the beginning, during the first months, she used to cry in the evening till she got asleep. She became thinner and thinner and got ill. The doctor realised the causes of her uneasiness and Clara opened her hearth to him. This fact helped her to ease her strain but didn’t succeed in removing her feelings of loneliness and abandonment.
She felt a feeling of grudge against her mother and, as a reaction, she grew attached to her American uncle who unfortunately, at the time, was already very ill.  
But, there,  the true delight and consolation of Clara's life were Fred’s periodical visits. Frederick Alvah Miller was her aunt’s stepson and, consequently, her cousin. He was Mr. Miller and his first wife’s son. Fred was about ten years older than Clara but she, when still a child, felt in love with him madly.  In the end they got married.
Before their first daughter Madge was born, they went to stay in Torquay, England,  for a while. At the time Torquay was a fashionable seaside resort to spend the cold season.
Their second child, a son, was born in America where Agatha’s parents had to spend some time on business. When they came back they decided to buy a house in Torquay, which Fred loved.  They bought a villa, Ashfield, which had to become Agatha’s home for almost all her life.
Fred felt really at home there and decided not to move anymore. He was very busy with his visits to his Club, to play cards and to go to parties.  Agatha’s mother didn’t like the sea, she didn’t like social events and couldn’t play cards. But she too was happy at Ashfield where she was even able to give dinner parties. Undoubtedly Agatha’s parents were very different. Clara was very active while Fred was  very calm. He was lazy and he was happy to live on his income. During Agatha’s early childhood he used to go out in the morning  and to join his club. Then he came back by carriage at lunchtime and in the afternoon used to go back to play whist. He was then back just in time to get dressed for dinner.  During the season he used to spend his days at the Cricket Club of which he was the president. Beeing very fond of theatre (in reality all the family was!),  he sometimes organised plays. He had a lot of friends and he liked to spend time with them. Every week they had a dinner and more than once they were invited out. (only later, Agatha realised that her father had been really loved by his friends and by the people in general. He didn’t have any particular peculiarity, he was not exceptionally intelligent, but he was simple, affectionate, loving and kind and, above all, very interested in people and their problems. He had a great sense of humour and made people laugh. He was not bad, not jealous but peaceful and well-disposed toward life).
Agatha’s mother was just the opposite. Endowed with an excellent and  vaguely mysterious personality(stronger than her husband's), she was very creative and original, even if shy and very insecure, probably affected by  a hidden sadness due to her past. Everyone – children, servants, people in general – were very devoted to her, ready to obey and please her. She was able to make everything interesting.
She didn’t like monotony and dullness and had a very diversified conversation, she used to jump from a subject to another very easily. She had no sense of humour at all. Her thoughts were always crossing her mind too quickly. While her husband loved to think about nothing but leisure, she used to be involved with three different thoughts at a time. Her thoughts, as Agatha discovered later, were always discordant with reality. She saw the world tinged with brighter colours than it really was and people were always better or worse than they really were as a matter of facts. Probably because of her strict control on herself when she was a child, she used to tinge things of melodramatic colours.
Her fantastic abilities were so accentuated  that she could transform the most unimportant and insignificant facts. She had great powers of intuition which allowed her to perceive in a while what other people were thinking of.

                                  As it is possible to realise from these short pieces of information,
                                 Clara Boehemer and Frederick Alvah Miller had a great influence
                                            on their daugheter's famous detective stories.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Jane Austen, on her anniversary...

Dec. 16, 2010

Happy, happy birthday Jane!!!

Steventon,  Dec. 16, 1775 – Winchester, July 18, 1817

It is a truth universally acknowledged, 
that a single man in possession
of a good fortune, 
must be in want of a wife.

         Mr Bennet was so odd a
        mixture of quick parts,
        sarcastic humour, reserve,
        and caprice, that the
        experience of three and
        twenty years had been
        insufficient to make his
        wife understand
        his character.

                                                                  Her mind was less difficult to develop.
                                                            She was a woman of mean understanding,
                                                 little information, and uncertain temper.

            Mary wished to say something very sensible,
           but knew not how.

                                                       'Now, Kitty, you may cough as much as you chuse'

                 'You are dancing with the only
                  handsome girl in the room'

                                                            'She is tolerable, but not handsome enough
                                                             to tempt me'

     'Oh! that he had sprained his ankle in the first dance!'

                                                   'Mr Darcy is all politeness'

                                                              'My mind was more agreeable engaged.
                                                               I have been meditating on the very great
                                                               pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in the
                                                               face of a pretty woman can bestow'

                               'My good opinion once lost is lost forever'

   'That is a failing indeed!
   Implacable resentment is a shade in a character.
   But you have chosen your fault well. - I really cannot
   laugh at it'

                                  'The person of whom I speak, is a gentleman and a stranger'

               'There is a mixture of servility and self-importance
               in his letter, which promises well. I am impatient
               to see him'

                       '... it is happy for you that you possess the talent of flattering with
                       delicacy. May I ask whether these pleasing attentions proceed
                     from the impulse of the moment, or are the result of a previous study?'

  'His cousin was as absurd as he had hoped'

                         Mr Collins had only to change from Jane to Elizabeth - and
                         it was soon done'

                                                             'In his library he had been always sure of
                                                              leisure and tranquillity'

                                           ... they were dances of mortification. Mr Collins, awkward
                                           and solemn, apologising instead of of attending, and often
                                           moving wrong without being aware of it, gave her all the 
                                           shame and misery which a disagreeable partner for a
                                           couple of dances can give. the moment of her
                                           release from him was exstasy.                                         

'Excuse my interference. - It was kindly meant'

                                                'Lizzy, I insist upon your staying and hearing
                                                 Mr Collins'

                      'And now nothing remains for me but
                       to assure you in the most animated
                      language of the violence of my affection'

                                                    'I am perfectly serious in my refusal'

                                   'An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth.
                                    From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents.
                                    - Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry
                                    Mr Collins, and I will never see you again if you do'

     'I am not romantic you know. I never was'

                   'Miss Bingley's letter arrived, and put an end to doubt'

                           'All! - What, all five out at once? Very odd! - and you only the
                           second. - The younger ones out before the elder are married! -
                           Your younger sisters must be very young?'

                                               'Upon my word... you give your opinion very decidely
                                               for so young a person, - Pray, what is your age?'

'In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed.
You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you'

                                      'I have every reason in the world to think ill of you'

                                                         'And this... is your opinion of me!'

                                                              'You have said enough, madam. I perfectly
                                                               understand your feelings'ù

To Pemberley, therefore, they were to go.

                                 'And of this place... I might have been mistress!'

        'He is the best landlord, and the best master that ever lived'

Their eyes instantly met, and the cheeks of each
were overspread with the depest blush'

                                              And his behaviour, so strikingly altered, -what
                                             could it mean?

'Miss Bennet, do you know who I am?'

                       'I take no leave of you, Miss Bennet. I send no compliments
                       to your mother. You deserve no such attention. I am most
                       seriously dispeased'

                                 'You are joking, Lizzy. This cannot be! - engaged to Mr Darcy!
                                 No, no, you shall not deceive me. I know it to be impossible'

  'Lizzy, what are you doing?
  Are you out of your senses,
  to be accepting this man?
  Have you not always hated him?'

                                'Good gracious! Lord bless me! only think! Dear me!
                                 Mr Darcy! Who would have thought it! And is it really
                                 true? Oh! my sweetest Lizzy! how rich and how great
                                 you will be! What pin-money, what jewels, what carriages
                                 you will have!'

                                                                                                          Jane Austen


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

O. Wilde, The Selfish Giant

                      The Selfish Giant



        Oscar Wilde

"The Selfish Giant," by Walter Crane,
from a 1910 reprint of the 1888 first edition of
The Happy Prince And Other Tales

     Every afternoon, as they were coming from school, the children used to go and play in the Giant's garden.
It was a large lovely garden, with soft green grass. Here and there over the grass stood beautiful flowers like stars, and there were twelve peach-trees that in the spring-time broke out into delicate blossoms of pink and pearl, and in the autumn bore rich fruit. The birds sat on the trees and sang so sweetly that the children used to stop their games in order to listen to them. "How happy we are here!" they cried to each other.
     One day the Giant came back. He had been to visit his friend the Cornish ogre, and had stayed with him for seven years. After the seven years were over he had said all that he had to say, for his conversation was limited, and he determined to return to his own castle. When he arrived he saw the children playing in the garden.
"What are you doing here?" he cried in a very gruff voice, and the children ran away.
"My own garden is my own garden," said the Giant; "any one can understand that, and I will allow nobody to play in it but myself." So he built a high wall all round it, and put up a notice-board.

He was a very selfish Giant.
     The poor children had now nowhere to play. They tried to play on the road, but the road was very dusty and full of hard stones, and they did not like it. They used to wander round the high wall when their lessons were over, and talk about the beautiful garden inside. "How happy we were there," they said to each other.
     Then the Spring came, and all over the country there were little blossoms and little birds. Only in the garden of the Selfish Giant it was still winter. The birds did not care to sing in it as there were no children, and the trees forgot to blossom. Once a beautiful flower put its head out from the grass, but when it saw the notice-board it was so sorry for the children that it slipped back into the ground again, and went off to sleep. The only people who were pleased were the Snow and the Frost. "Spring has forgotten this garden," they cried, "so we will live here all the year round." The Snow covered up the grass with her great white cloak, and the Frost painted all the trees silver. Then they invited the North Wind to stay with them, and he came. He was wrapped in furs, and he roared all day about the garden, and blew the chimney-pots down. "This is a delightful spot," he said, "we must ask the Hail on a visit." So the Hail came. Every day for three hours he rattled on the roof of the castle till he broke most of the slates, and then he ran round and round the garden as fast as he could go. He was dressed in grey, and his breath was like ice.
"I cannot understand why the Spring is so late in coming," said the Selfish Giant, as he sat at the window and looked out at his cold white garden; "I hope there will be a change in the weather."
But the Spring never came, nor the Summer. The Autumn gave golden fruit to every garden, but to the Giant's garden she gave none. "He is too selfish," she said. So it was always Winter there, and the North Wind, and the Hail, and the Frost, and the Snow danced about through the trees.
     One morning the Giant was lying awake in bed when he heard some lovely music. It sounded so sweet to his ears that he thought it must be the King's musicians passing by. It was really only a little linnet singing outside his window, but it was so long since he had heard a bird sing in his garden that it seemed to him to be the most beautiful music in the world. Then the Hail stopped dancing over his head, and the North Wind ceased roaring, and a delicious perfume came to him through the open casement. "I believe the Spring has come at last," said the Giant; and he jumped out of bed and looked out.
     What did he see?
He saw a most wonderful sight. Through a little hole in the wall the children had crept in, and they were sitting in the branches of the trees. In every tree that he could see there was a little child. And the trees were so glad to have the children back again that they had covered themselves with blossoms, and were waving their arms gently above the children's heads. The birds were flying about and twittering with delight, and the flowers were looking up through the green grass and laughing. It was a lovely scene, only in one corner it was still winter. It was the farthest corner of the garden, and in it was standing a little boy. He was so small that he could not reach up to the branches of the tree, and he was wandering all round it, crying bitterly. The poor tree was still quite covered with frost and snow, and the North Wind was blowing and roaring above it. "Climb up! little boy," said the Tree, and it bent its branches down as low as it could; but the boy was too tiny.
     And the Giant's heart melted as he looked out. "How selfish I have been!" he said; "now I know why the Spring would not come here. I will put that poor little boy on the top of the tree, and then I will knock down the wall, and my garden shall be the children's playground for ever and ever." He was really very sorry for what he had done.
     So he crept downstairs and opened the front door quite softly, and went out into the garden. But when the children saw him they were so frightened that they all ran away, and the garden became winter again. Only the little boy did not run, for his eyes were so full of tears that he did not see the Giant coming. And the Giant stole up behind him and took him gently in his hand, and put him up into the tree. And the tree broke at once into blossom, and the birds came and sang on it, and the little boy stretched out his two arms and flung them round the Giant's neck, and kissed him. And the other children, when they saw that the Giant was not wicked any longer, came running back, and with them came the Spring. "It is your garden now, little children," said the Giant, and he took a great axe and knocked down the wall. And when the people were going to market at twelve o'clock they found the Giant playing with the children in the most beautiful garden they had ever seen.
All day long they played, and in the evening they came to the Giant to bid him good-bye.
"But where is your little companion?" he said: "the boy I put into the tree." The Giant loved him the best because he had kissed him.
"We don't know," answered the children; "he has gone away."
"You must tell him to be sure and come here to-morrow," said the Giant. But the children said that they did not know where he lived, and had never seen him before; and the Giant felt very sad.
     Every afternoon, when school was over, the children came and played with the Giant. But the little boy whom the Giant loved was never seen again. The Giant was very kind to all the children, yet he longed for his first little friend, and often spoke of him. "How I would like to see him!" he used to say.
     Years went over, and the Giant grew very old and feeble. He could not play about any more, so he sat in a huge armchair, and watched the children at their games, and admired his garden. "I have many beautiful flowers," he said; "but the children are the most beautiful flowers of all."
     One winter morning he looked out of his window as he was dressing. He did not hate the Winter now, for he knew that it was merely the Spring asleep, and that the flowers were resting.
Suddenly he rubbed his eyes in wonder, and looked and looked. It certainly was a marvellous sight. In the farthest corner of the garden was a tree quite covered with lovely white blossoms. Its branches were all golden, and silver fruit hung down from them, and underneath it stood the little boy he had loved.
    Downstairs ran the Giant in great joy, and out into the garden. He hastened across the grass, and came near to the child. And when he came quite close his face grew red with anger, and he said, "Who hath dared to wound thee?" For on the palms of the child's hands were the prints of two nails, and the prints of two nails were on the little feet.
"Who hath dared to wound thee?" cried the Giant; "tell me, that I may take my big sword and slay him."
"Nay!" answered the child; "but these are the wounds of Love."
"Who art thou?" said the Giant, and a strange awe fell on him, and he knelt before the little child.
And the child smiled on the Giant, and said to him, "You let me play once in your garden, to-day you shall come with me to my garden, which is Paradise."
     And when the children ran in that afternoon, they found the Giant lying dead under the tree, all covered with white blossoms.
                                                                                                             Oscar Wilde