This does not look like Oscar Wilde at all but just imagine that he does (By MC)
I sometimes think that Oscar Wilde wrote hundreds of witticisms, aphorisms, epigrams and maxims first and then built his plays and stories around them. Also, many of his characters appear to be Wilde’s alter egos who speak the way he would. They all seem to have been created as dummies whom he would animate with his lines.
On his 159th birth anniversary today, I thought it might be inventive to do a brief imaginary interview where all his answers are quotes from his own characters. There may be some minor rearranging to make them work but by and large they have been used verbatim.
I have added a couple of lines of my own in what some might call sacrilegious intrusion but I think Oscar Wilde would understand.
The setting of the interview is soon after his release from “gaol” as he prepares to flee to France from England where he was sentenced to three years of hard labor for his homosexuality, in particular his relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas. Imaginary Excerpts:
MC: As you look back at your tumultuous life, which part of your past you wish you could reclaim and relive?
OW:No man is rich enough to buy back his past. Men become old but they never become good. How many men there are in modern life who would like to see their past burning to white ashes before them!
MC: At this stage of your life and career it seems you are quite like a drunkard in the gutter.
OW: We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars. After all, in this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants and the other is getting it. I have experienced both those tragedies. (The last line is mine)
MC: Are you a cynic now that things have gone so terribly wrong?
OW:A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. Price cannot become value by wearing a couple of diamond rings, mink and mascara. (The second line is mine).
MC: Your homosexuality has prompted the prudish England to treat you as the devil himself.
OW: We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.
MC: Do you think that the public will eventually forgive you?
OW: Yes; the public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius.
MC: Life seems to have become penurious for you now after such enormous success. How do you think it might affect your natural charms and sense of romance?
OW: Unless one is wealthy there is no use in being a charming fellow. Romance is the privilege of the rich, not the profession of the unemployed.
MC: Do you have much love left now? And if you do, to whom would you give?
OW: To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.
MC: Those who know you well say that you have killed what you loved; your own spirit.
OW: And all men kill the thing they love,
By all let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!
And as for those who know me well, they are neither seen nor heard. (The last line is mine).