Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

"The Book of Life begins with a man and a woman in a garden. It ends with Revelations."




Oscar Wilde seems to have been one of history's great conversationalists. In The Epigrams of Oscar Wilde, an anthology by Alvin Redman, we find a fascinating example of the rarefied heights that his conversation could reach. The following quotation is from page 22 of this book. (The title of this post is of course another fine example of Wilde's wit.)

David






"Few remain of those who heard his talk, but his many biographers are unanimous in acclaiming Wilde as the supreme conversationalist. The descriptions are many and varied, and Wilde himself, in the character of Lord Henry Wotton in The Picture of Dorian Gray, has left a most apt description, by example, of his conversation. He describes Lord Wotton's talk in the following short extract:

'He played with the idea, grew wilful; tossed it into the air and tranformed it; let it escape and recaptured it; made it iridescent with fancy, and winged it with paradox. The praise of folly, as he went on, soared into a philosophy, and Philosophy herself became young, and catching the mad music of Pleasure wearing, one might fancy, her wine-stained robe and wreath of ivy, danced like a Bacchante over the hills of Life, and mocked the slow Silenus for being sober. Facts spread before her like frightened forest things. Her white feet trod the huge press at which the wise Omar sits, till the seething grape-juice rose round her bare limbs in waves of purple bubbles, or crawled in red foam over the vat's black, dripping, sloping sides. It was an extraordinary improvisation.'
"This was Wilde himself, buoyantly guiding the narrative through many bright bejewelled caverns until he reached the daylight of his story, and then smilingly turning back to find new adventures for his words."

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