Well, my vacation in Paris is drawing to a close. We had a wonderful time. The weather cooperated – not too cold and mostly dry. The skies were almost solidly gray, which did make it much more difficult than normal to adjust to the time zone. Our daughter was able to join us for the second half of our trip, always a bonus. There was only one day when I was mysteriously unwell, but that soon passed. Paris in the off-season is definitely calmer. We saw a different museum exhibit almost every day – including Christmas!
I had wanted to see the Oscar Wilde exhibit at the Petit Palais as I am a big fan of his writing. I grew up listening to a beautiful recording of “The Happy Prince,” and The Portrait of Dorian Gray has always fascinated me. The exhibit itself was a little text heavy (rather inevitable for a show about a major writer), but it interspersed art from his days as a critic and clips of some of the movie adaptations of his works.
As we moved through each phase of his life from one room to the next, my attention was grabbed by all of the quotations painted on the walls. Few writers can claim as many quotable and notable quotes as Oscar Wilde. Probably the best way to translate “a quotable quote” is une citation digne d’être citée (oon see-tah-see-ohn dee-njuh det-ruh see-tay). I jotted down the quotes from the exhibit for you:
Lorsque les dieux veulent nous punir, ils exaucent nos prières.
When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers.
Vivre est la chose la plus rare au monde. La plupart des gens se contentent d’exister.
To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist.
J’adore le théâtre. Il est tellement plus vrai que la vie.
I love acting. It is so much more real than life.
Le public fait preuve d’une tolérance étonnante. Il pardonne tout, sauf le génie.
The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius.
Il n’existe pas de livre moral ou immoral. Un livre est bien écrit ou mal écrit; un point, c’est tout.
There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all.
Quand on est amoureux, on commence par se tromper soi-même et on finit par tromper les autres.
When one is in love, one begins by deceiving oneself and one ends by deceiving others.
Rien ne nous distingue plus aujourd’hui de l’Amérique à l’exception du langage, bien entendu.
We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language.
S’aimer soi-même, c’est se lancer dans une belle histoire d’amour qui durera toute la vie.
To love one self us the beginning of a lifelong romance.
Tout art est parfaitement inutile.
All art is quite useless.
Dire des choses belles et fausses est le véritable but de l’art.
The telling of beautiful untrue things is the proper aim of art.
La moderation est une chose fatale. Rien ne réussit mieux que l’excès.
Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothings succeeds like excess.
On ne doit jamais faire ses débuts par un scandale: il faut réserver cela pour l’intérêt de ses vieux jours.
One should never make one’s début with a scandal. One should reserve that to give an interest to one’s old age.
The exhibit did not, however, include my favorite Wilde quotations-said to be his dying words in a shabby Parisian hotel – Ou c’est ce papier peint qui disparaît, ou c’est moi. “Either this wallpaper goes or I do.” If you are, or will be, in Paris, the exhibit continues until January 15, 2017.