As this week seemed to be Wilde-orientated, I decided to read his story “The Sphinx without a Secret”. I had heard a lot about it and saw it reviewed recently (here and here), but had never got around to read it. Now, it’s done!
In a few words, the narrator meets his old friend, Lord Murchinson, who, he tells us, “would be the best of fellows, if he did not always speak the truth”. The narrator notices the anxious look of Murchinson and suspects that some woman is involved. He is right and soon Murchinson tells us the story of Lady Alroy, whose face on the photo is the one of “someone with a secret”.
As Murchinson recounts his encounter with Lady Alroy, he tells us that he was excited by her air of mystery. As he begins a relationship with her, he indeed believes that she is hiding a secret from him.
The whole story revolves around this idea of mystery and secret. The reader, like the narrator, gets worked up; we, too, want to know the secret. However, we never learn it and although our narrator thinks that Lady Alroy is “a sphinx without a secret”, we, like Lord Murchinson, wonder…
It is a short and enjoyable story. It is well crafted; Wilde builds the whole story around this idea of mystery and, if you pay attention, there are many clues that draw attention to secrecy, mystery and truth. He is successful in getting us to expect a big revelation and leaves our thirst for discovery unsatisfied. However, the story is satisfying as it is a pleasure to read. Enjoy!
Short Story Monday is hosted by John at The Book Mine Set.