Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince(ss) and Other Tales is the third regendered novel I’m officially releasing , which is available for free for a short time. Unlike the others, it’s a collection of short stories rather than a full length novel. It’s also the first time I’ve adjusted the title, morphing the original Happy Prince into the regendered Happy Princess.I was originally against making such changes since it felt like it was disconnecting too much from the original text. In this case, I didn’t have much choice since keeping the original title would’ve negated the point of regendering. Having seen the change though, I think I quite like it, and will probably be more inclined to change the titles in the future if necessary.
Being a collection of short stories, The Happy Princess and Other Tales make a great introduction to what you can expect from a regendered novel. Each story is a bite size narrative, usually wrapped around a moral, you can read in a short period of time. My personal favourite is probably The Devoted Friend because it’s all too easy imagine the ‘friend’ in the story being real.
The reason I chose The Happy Princess and Other Tales for regendering was due more to the original author, Oscar Wilde, than the stories themselves. I explain this in a little more detail in the author’s note below. As always, it main contain spoilers, so read at your own risk!
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The Happy Princess and Other tales is slightly different from the other novels I’ve chosen to regender. Most obviously it’s a collection of short stories rather than a novel. While these also provide interesting results from the regendering, the main reason it was chosen was due to its author, Oscar Wilde.
While my focus for regendering novels has been the gender imbalances, I’m also conscious of how little representation minorities and other marginalised segments of the population receive. Which is why I think Wilde makes a good choice to have his work regendered.
Despite his skill with words, and his obvious wit, Wilde was persecuted and eventually imprisoned for his sexuality. This is something still occurring in many parts of the world today, and even in western cultures there remains plenty of discrimination against homosexuals.
The regendering itself revealed mostly challenges to gender roles. A few of the stories continued the stereotype of girls being superficial and being more concerned with pretty dresses or flowers. It was interesting to see this reversed after the regendering, a situation I think is far more common these days. Then there’s the case of the Devoted Friend, which suggests that such toxic friendships are not limited to either gender.
All in all, it was interesting to regender a collection of short stories and quite a different experience to a full novel. I’ll certainly keep it in mind as an option for future possible regenders. As for Oscar Wilde, expect to see a regender of his more famous work, The Importance of Being Earnest, sometime in the future!