Right of Death
Game Called Murder
Oscar Wilde and The Ring of Death
(title in UK)
Oscar Wilde and A Game Called Murder (title in USA)
| Reading Group
Guide | Q
& A with Gyles
Group Discussion Questions (Click
here for printer-friendly version - PDF)
- The book begins with the quote, “Would you like to know the great drama of my life? It is that I have put my genius into my life . . . I have put only my talent into my works.” What might Oscar Wilde have meant by this? Are there instances in the book where the fictional Wilde demonstrates this “genius?”
- “Young people imagine that money is everything; when they grow older, they know it.” (192) In his daily interactions, how does Oscar demonstrate the truthfulness of this quote? Compare Sherard’s and Pearse’s understandings of money with that of Oscar’s.
- To Oscar, ugliness is a sin to be labeled as “the devil’s work.” (153) In your opinion, why is he so distraught by things that are not beautiful? How does his quest for beauty color his life and daily interactions?
- When Sherard inquires of Oscar why he deliberately makes an enemy of Charles Brookfield, he says “because I cannot make him my friend.” (220) Do you agree that Oscar lacked the power to make a friend of Brookfield? Why weren’t they friends? What does this say about Wilde’s character? About Brookfield?
- Discuss the role of class in the book. How does Oscar differ from Alphonse Byrd and David McMuirtree in terms of social rank? In particular, what does the book say about being a “gentleman?”
- What are Sherard’s first descriptions of Byrd when he is introduced to the story? How does our knowledge of this secretive innkeeper change as the mystery unfolds?
- Sherard’s infatuation with Constance is clear from the moment the book begins. What qualities does she possess that draw him (and Edward Heron-Allen) to her? Do these qualities apply to women today or are these traits specific to the time period?
- As he begins to unravel the mystery behind five murders, Oscar offers a few of his clues to Robert Sherard. Did any of these hints lead you to assume the wrong killer(s)? Immediately before the dinner where Oscar solves the mystery, who were the most likely suspects?
- Oscar’s boredom with Constance is apparent throughout the novel. He also appears to have strong affections towards Bosie. How does he rationalize his lack of feelings for Constance? How does the book approach the issue of Oscar’s homosexuality and his relationship with Bosie?
- The novel’s postscript tells us that the real Oscar Wilde met an unfortunate end. At which points in the book does Oscar foreshadow his own demise? Does he seem bothered by the prospect of what his future holds? Why or why not?
Creative Tips for Enhancing Your Book Club
- Bring in a copy of Oscar Wilde’s Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young or a copy of the Marquess of Queensbury’s boxing rules for discussion with your group. Both references from the book are short lists which can be found on the internet, here.
- Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, is introduced to the reader in this novel. Choose one of his works as your next book club assignment. You may also wish to rent the DVD version of Dracula to watch as a group.
- The story takes place during the successful run of Oscar‘s play Lady Windermere‘s Fan. Research both Oscar Wilde and Lady Windermere. Bring in copies of the script and stage a reading of the play with the members of your book club.
- Arrange your own version of the meal which takes place at the beginning of the story. You‘ll need a well planned menu, including wine pairings, as well as a seating chart. Scan the book for examples of the rich foods that Oscar and his friends enjoyed and see which ones you can prepare yourself. Most importantly, choose a question that can be asked anonymously of the guests at the end of the meal. And just for fun, put together their own “who would you kill “ nominee, maybe based on bad bookclub selections or characters.