Unsurprisingly, it is Oscar Wilde himself who best summarises the reason why I both love and disrespect him:
Between me and life there is a mist of words always. I throw probability out of the window for the sake of a phrase, and the chance of an epigram makes me desert truth. Still I do aim at making a work of art (142).
This small paperback is surprisingly dense, containing a collection of over 1000 Oscar Wilde quotes and excerpts on a variety of topics. I especially appreciated the inclusion of quotes allegedly spoken by Wilde in conversation, since these are not as readily available as his written works. I would have given the collection 5/5 if not for the censorious and subjectively judgmental introductions to each section by editor Alvin Redman. A critique of Wilde’s life and morality would be more appropriate content for a biography and Redman would have done better to merely let the content of the book speak for itself.
This unsubstantial book is mostly composed of selections from previously published works (some even by the same editor). A considerable number of the “quotes” are actually anecdotes about the founding fathers, not by them. Many other quotes are actually just the founding fathers rephrasing other people’s stories and sayings. This small book is a low-quality money-making enterprise of the gift shop variety.
I like the format of this book – each section is prefaced by a well-written and interesting/inspirational running anecdote. To me, most of the value of this book comes from the fact that Weber did his own primary source research, instead of just gathering quotes from other compilations.
I needed some light reading after all that Spinoza and this book was perfect. I was impressed that there were so many quotes that I hadn’t seen in other compilations before. I laughed so hard at a couple of them that it brought tears to my eyes and I was afraid I’d wake up the sleeping kids. One of my favourites was “never buy a portable TV from a man who’s out of breath.”