October 28, 2005

Oscar Wilde & the bon mot

I watched An Ideal Husband last night. And I was amused at just how witty Oscar Wilde was. And I remembered how in an essay I had read(in the back of a John Irving book) that John Irving had such a problem with Wilde. Why? Because Wilde had dissed (pretty harshly) Dickens.

I imagine people dissed Dickens in the same way that people are hard on Stephen King today. Stemming chiefly from the fact that they are popular.

But that doesn’t mean Wilde was bad. His one novel(The Portrait of Dorian Gray) is great!

Here is a small sampling from Mr. Wilde:

–Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.
–I am not young enough to know everything.
–I think that God in creating Man somewhat overestimated his ability.
–Morality, like art, means drawing a line someplace.
–Work is the curse of the drinking classes.
–It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.
–There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written.

Dorian Gray is so wonderful because it involves a young man who makes a friend who corrupts him. And reading it, it’s very trying in a way because the friend says all of these awful things that somehow actually do make sense. And Dorian and you sort of hate yourself for beginning to agree with them. And if you are stranger in a strange place like high school or college or a new town. Well, you’re going to meet a friend like that at some point of your life. And you’ll have to decide what you’re going to do.


  1. candy

    What a witty man. I loved the Monty Python sketch where they lampooned Wilde’s renowned witticism. A must see if you love Wilde and humour.

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