Author: Oscar Wilde
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Year of publication: 2016
Genre: Classics, Non-Fiction
Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
“To know nothing about their great men is one of the necessary elements of English education.”
Wilde’s celebrated witticisms on the dangers of sincerity, duplicitous biographers, the stupidity of the English – and his own genius.
One of 46 new books in the bestselling Little Black Classics series, to celebrate the first ever Penguin Classic in 1946. Each book gives readers a taste of the Classics’ huge range and diversity, with works from around the world and across the centuries – including fables, decadence, heartbreak, tall tales, satire, ghosts, battles and elephants.
On a quest to visit bookshops in London, I found Daunt Books and in there I found this book among lots of other Little Black Classics. I had been looking for Flush by Virginia Woolf, but sadly they didn’t have that one. But fortunately I saw Oscar Wilde’s name and decided there and then that I would buy it.
Oscar Wilde is one of my favourite literary figures, and not just because he’s a brilliant writer. He was, and still is, one of the most quotable writers and I love everything about his words, his witticisms and how he has a turn of phrase which is both funny yet contains deeper meanings.
He was himself a work of art. A lover of decadence who lived life in the pursuit of pleasure and of art. This collection of quotes touches on subjects that he felt most passionately about, and which illustrate the kind of person he was through a carefully crafted selection of his words.
One thing I loved was that the quotes haven’t just been chosen and thrown on the page in any order. They have been chosen, and then carefully weaved together. They speak to each other, and follow on from one another in a way that tells you a story of Oscar Wilde, and give the reader an essence of who he was and why he is so quotable and brilliant. For example, our opening quotes are musings on life and art, and eventually we come to his thoughts on Americans, and further on we have snippets of what he thought about being in prison. What is particularly eye-opening is the way he spoke about prison and what being there made him realise about people and life.
I read this book in two sittings: The first on a bus journey to university, and the second on my way back home.
If you’re a commuter, this book is the perfect little companion for any bus or train journey. And once you’ve read it, don’t leave it be, return to it and remind yourself of Oscar Wilde’s wit and wisdom.
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