The genius of Oscar Wilde, and “The Picture of Dorian Gray” …

Hi, friends and readers:

When I was in law school, about a hundred years ago, I read Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray for the first time. The book contains dozens of hilarious observations on the absurdities of life in Victorian England, mostly spoken by Lord Henry Wotton, a fictitious character in the book.

I liked Lord Henry’s words so much, I underlined many of his remarks in the paperback version of the book I owned. I kept the book for decades and tried to read it once a year, just to remind myself of the many truths lying within Wilde’s story. But, sadly, I lent the book to a German boy I met in Berlin, and he never returned it. Grrrr …. Don’t you hate it when people do that?

Anyway, I recently purchased a new copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray, and I’m in the process of underlining my favorite passages again. There are so many of them, and here are a few from the book’s beginning:

“There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

” … the one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties.”

“Conscience and cowardice are really the same things. Conscience is the trade-name of the firm. That is all.”

“The value of an idea has nothing whatsoever to do with the sincerity of the man who expresses it. Indeed, the probabilities are that the more insincere the man, the more purely intellectual the idea will be.”

“I like persons better than principles, and I like persons with no principles better than anything else in the world.”

“The aim of life is self-development, to realize one’s nature perfectly.”

“The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.”

“Nothing can cure the soul but the senses.”

Whew, those all come from the first two chapters. What an amazing mind Oscar Wilde possessed, and how sad he lived at a time when an openly gay life was something socially unacceptable.

If you’ve never read The Picture of Dorian Gray, you really should. It’s both entertaining and insightful. Here’s a link:

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