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Vera - or, The Nihilists Paperback – 6 Jul 2010
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While nowhere near as accomplished as his masterworks like Earnest, there is a satisfying mix of clever comedy, prince (or czarevich) and the pauper plot, and melodrama.
You want witty epigrams? He's got witty epigrams!
"When you are as old as I am, Prince, you will understand that there are few things easier than to live badly and to die well."
"To make a good salad is to be a brilliant diplomatist—the problem is so entirely the same in both cases. To know exactly how much oil one must put with one's vinegar."
"You have been married twice already; suppose you try—falling in love, for once."
"Life is much too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it."
But the bold thing here is that an Irishman, whose mother was a (in)famous republican, would write lines that advocate terrorism, assassination, and revolution. A comedy about regicide!
Imagine as Gladstone's government is debating the Irish Question in parliament (and passing the Irish Coercion Act), a long-haired dandy from Dublin is writing: "There should be no crowned man in Europe. Have I not sworn it? To be strong our new Republic should be drunk with the blood of kings."
It is ripe for a reappraisal.
Plus Wilde is funnier than Dostoevsky on his best day.
Wilde does that to people! If you are just looking for some witty remarks, try The Importance of Being Earnest but if you want a little more, add this to your order, as I did, and read something different.
The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comedy for Serious People