We love the Irish because they don’t take themselves too seriously. Even their genius writers got pissed on a regular basis at pubs round Dublin (according to the Literary Publ Crawl guides). Yet their small island can boast 4 Nobel prizes for literature: WB Yeats in 1911, George Bernard Shaw in 1936, Samuel Beckett in 1977, and Seamus Heaney in 1995. Seems they are due for one.
Alas the Nobel committee didn’t have the opportunity to debate whether to honor the by-then disgraced Oscar Wilde. The prize started in 1901 and he died in 1900. Oscar Wilde towers off to the side where he can critique and sometimes ridicule the pompous and the fool.
I found this gem of book of Oscar Wilde quotes at the Dublin Writers Museum bookshop. (I admit I only went there for the bookstore because they haven’t changed up the exhibits since the 90s, and they still don’t have a website!)
This morning I am reading it before I mail it to a friend and I am inspired, amused, and left with quite a bit to think over. Here are a few of the highlights:
Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live. -O.W.
Bad art is a good deal worse than no art at all. -O.W.
Prayer must never be answered: if it is, it ceases to be prayer and becomes correspondence. -O.W.
Society sooner or later must return to its lost leader, the cultured and fascinating liar. -O.W.
Anyone can make history. Ony a great man can write it. -O.W.
Anybody can sympathize with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature–it requires, in fact, that nature of a true Individualist–to sympathize with a friend’s success. -O.W.