During my jaunt to Durham last week, I found myself without a television, the Internet, or a book.
To while away those torpidly dull evenings, I popped into a nearby bookstore and bought the first thing I saw, since the store was closing in a few minutes.
The book turned out to be a collection of plays by Oscar Wilde, the celebrated Irish novelist, poet, and playwright, and comprised amongst other works, Lady Windermere’s Fan, The Importance of Being Earnest, A Woman of No Importance, An Ideal Husband, and Salomé.
While the opportunity to peruse Wilde’s works has all too often proved elusive, I have always been aware of his distinct skill as a witticist: an adroitness that makes these plays an absolute delight to read.
Although written towards the end of the twentieth century, similar to Tolstoy, Wilde renders his characters with such vivid cynicism that one could imagine such scenarios and characters occurring and existing in contemporary society.
Here are a few choice quotes to whet your appetite for what I guarantee will be an immensely enjoyable read:
“Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.”
“Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.”
“I think that God in creating Man somewhat overestimated his ability.”
“One can survive everything, nowadays, except death, and live down everything except a good reputation.”
“The secret of life is to appreciate the pleasure of being terribly, terribly deceived.”
“Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.”
“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
“Thirty-five is a very attractive age. London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirty-five for years.“
“What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”
And my personal favourite:
“I can resist anything but temptation.”
I could go on until the cows come home, but short of converting Caledoniyya into an Oscarphilia site, I must stop.
Suffice to say, I cannot wait to read The Picture of Dorian Gray.