Recently, I was in Dublin, Ireland with my husband. We walked the same streets that Maeve Binchy, Roddy Doyle and James Joyce walked. One rainy day, we posed for a group photo in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where Dean Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels, presided. We visited the quirky Little Museum of Dublin where author John Banville (also known as Benjamin Black) promises to donate his brain.
At Smock Theatre, we saw a play. The original Smock Theatre opened in 1662 and operated until 1787, opening again in 2012, rebuilt, but standing on the same foundation with pieces from the original structure. During its history, Thomas Sheridan, father of playwright Richard Sheridan (Rivals/School for Scandal), managed the theater. Oliver Goldsmith (She Stoops to Conquer) also produced his plays there. Later on, David Garrick, the great 18th century actor, played the part of Hamlet for the first time at the theatre.
On an uncharacteristically warm, sunny day, we toured Trinity College where William Trevor, Bram Stoker, Anne Enright, Samuel Beckett and many other Irish authors have studied. The brilliant Oscar Wilde studied there too, but left three years later, having won a scholarship to Oxford. Wilde was an outstanding student. In his first year, he was first in his class; in his second, he was awarded the title Trinity scholar; and in his third year, he won the University’s highest academic award in Greek.
Of all the native Irish writers we bumped into during our stay, it is Oscar Wilde who touched me the most. He had talent, money, success and genius. Yet, he died tragically, in exile, penniless, dishonored and too young. To this day, his name still carries a whiff of debauchery and excess. Yet, he was a literary giant. His novel The Picture of Dorian Gray and his play The Importance of Being Earnest, are masterpieces. I mourned his loss, yet I could imagine him reclining after dinner, relaxing among friends while observing the foibles of humankind. His bon mots-comic or wise are memorable.
“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.”
“I can resist everything except temptation.”
“There is only one thing in the world that is worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”
This last one struck me as truly wonderful.
“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”