Over several years, for the month of June, I wrote about a short story that was available online each day of the month…. It seemed like a good idea at the time. My blog readership fell precipitously and nobody seemed to give a damn about what I was doing – which was a surprising amount of work.
Because of this result, I’m going to do it again this year – In September this time… because it is September.
Today’s story, for day 28 – The Model Millionaire by Oscar Wilde
Read it online here:
The Model Millionaire by Oscar Wilde
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. The poor should be practical and prosaic. It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating. These are the great truths of modern life which Hughie Erskine never realized. Poor Hughie! Intellectually, we must admit, he was not of much importance. He never said a brilliant or even an ill-natured thing in his life. But then he was wonderfully good-looking, with his crisp brown hair, his clear-cut profile, and his grey eyes. He was as popular with men as he was with women, and he had every accomplishment except that of making money.
—-Oscar Wilde, The Model Millionaire
Today’s story is a simple one – a man, not necessarily a great or charitable man, makes a great and charitable gesture, and suffers the consequences.
There is nobody better at writing aphorisms than Oscar Wilde. Even his fiction is generously sprinkled with entertaining pithy tidbits of wisdom that can be extracted and stand on their own. Finding these not-so-hidden jewels embedded in the text is one of the joys of reading Wilde.
Dorothy Parker said in a 1927 issue of Life:
If, with the literate, I am
Impelled to try an epigram,
I never seek to take the credit;
We all assume that Oscar said it.
A short list of Oscar Wilde Aphorisms (there are many, many more):
- I think that God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability.
- The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast.
- Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.
- It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.
- The only thing to do with good advice is pass it on. It is never any use to oneself.
- Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.
- What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
- A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.
- When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is.
- There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.
- Memory is the diary that we all carry about with us.
- Woman begins by resisting a man`s advances and ends by blocking his retreat.
- Beware of women who do not hide their age. A woman who reveals her age is capable of anything.
- A thing is not necessarily right because a man dies for it.
- Art is the most intense form of individualism that the world has known.
- I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their good intellects. A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies.
- Work is the curse of the drinking classes.
- Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.
- True friends stab you in the front.
- Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.
- Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.
- I never put off till tomorrow what I can do the day after.
- Action is the last refuge of those who cannot dream.
- I can resist everything except temptation.
- I like persons better than principles, and I like persons with no principles better than anything else in the world.
- The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.
- Men marry because they are tired; women because they are curious. Both are disappointed.
- Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.
- There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.
- Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike.
- How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as if she were a perfectly normal human being?
- A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone’s feelings unintentionally.
- The old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything, the young know everything.
- I like men who have a future and women who have a past.
- Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit.
Upon the other hand, whenever a community or a powerful section of a community, or a government of any kind, attempts to dictate to the artist what he is to do, Art either entirely vanishes, or becomes stereotyped, or degenerates into a low and ignoble form of craft. A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament. Its beauty comes from the fact that the author is what he is. It has nothing to do with the fact that other people want what they want. Indeed, the moment that an artist takes notice of what other people want, and tries to supply the demand, he ceases to be an artist, and becomes a dull or an amusing craftsman, an honest or a dishonest tradesman. He has no further claim to be considered as an artist. Art is the most intense mode of Individualism that the world has known. I am inclined to say that it is the only real mode of Individualism that the world has known. Crime, which, under certain conditions, may seem to have created Individualism, must take cognizance of other people and interfere with them. It belongs to the sphere of action. But alone, without any reference to his neighbors, without any interference, the artist can fashion a beautiful thing; and if he does not do it solely for his own pleasure, he is not an artist at all.
—-from The Soul of Man under Socialism