A Wilde Thing

“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”

“We teach people how to remember, we never teach them how to grow.”

“What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

“When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers.”

“An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.”

“Arguments are to be avoided; they are always vulgar and often convincing.”

“To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable.”

Happy birthday Oscar. There are things I feel sure you would love in our age of absurdity. Other things might be less pleasing, though the rich and privileged sneering at the poor would be no novelty for you, I’m sure. I don’t know if you would be more surprised by the progress we have made since your time, or dismayed by how little we have advanced. Some of each, perhaps.

“To recommend thrift to the poor is both grotesque and insulting. It is like advising a man who is starving to eat less.”

“Agitators are a set of interfering, meddling people, who come down to some perfectly contented class of the community, and sow the seeds of discontent amongst them. That is the reason why agitators are so absolutely necessary. Without them, in our incomplete state, there would be no advance towards civilization.”

“Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience and rebellion that progress has been made.”

* * * * * * * * *

“Whenever people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong.”

“I can resist anything except temptation.”

“I love acting. It is so much more real than life.”

“Work is the curse of the drinking classes.”

“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.”

I’ve loved Oscar Wilde’s humor, even at its most obvious, as in his farce “The Importance of Being Earnest”, since our awkward high school production way back in my misspent youth. I seem to remember being the only one laughing much during the Sunday matinee, and much of it still makes me smile. I really like the 2002 British adaptation with Colin Firth and Judi Dench. In the universe (definitely not this one!) in which I CAN act my way out of a paper bag, I would relish playing both Lady Augusta, and Miss Prism by turns. Ah well.

“A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies.”

“If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.”

“The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius.”

“Morality, like art, means drawing a line somewhere.”

Wilde certainly pushed the boundaries of late-Victorian conventions in the way he lived his life. And eventually, he paid for it, with a very public criminal prosecution, resulting in a prison sentence. I’ve wondered if he was just out of control, if he was totally arrogant, oblivious to all risks, or if he felt his talent and success would be enough to protect him, no matter how openly he flouted the rules of his society.

Vile deeds like poison weeds bloom well in prison air,
It is only what is good in man, that wastes and withers there.

“Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.”

As I explored more of Wilde’s writings, I also came to appreciate the gentleness and compassion he revealed at times, which I had not expected somehow, given his unsparing mockery of social pretension and hypocrisy .

“I suppose that I shall have to die beyond my means.”

“Biography lends to death a new terror.”

“Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one’s mistakes.”http://www.online-literature.com/wilde/

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About l. l. frederick

I'm pretty ordinary, so I find any number of things in the world interesting, among them: books, music, flowers, food, social justice, politics and (sometimes!) people. As for my writing, I've decided that I can be subtle and tasteful when our only problems are esthetic ones. Or when I'm dead, whichever comes first. In the meantime, read at your own risk.
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