Paraprosdokian and Oscar Wilde

January 17, 2009 at 6:18 pm (Uncategorized)

Inspired by Firewallender‘s post onKeep Calm and Carry On: The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon”  I feel like I’m getting a little bit of that since I StumbledUpon’d the word Paraprosdokian:

Paraprosdokian: a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe the first part.

I’ve also been reading a bit of Oscar Wilde who uses these quite a bit (and more since I am suffering from the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon).  Here are some gems for your reading pleasure:

Nothing is so aggravating as calmness.

~A Woman of No Importance Act II

I love talking about nothing . . . it is the only thing I know anything about.

~An Ideal Husband Act I

Wonderful woman, … talks more and says less than anybody I ever met.  She is made to be a public speaker.

~An Ideal Husband Act II

How pale you are looking, Gertrude!  It is most becoming!

~An Ideal Husband Act IV

Ah, now-a-days we are all of us so hard up, that the only pleasant thing to pay are compliments.

~Lady Windermere’s Fan Act I

I believe it [marriage] is a very pleasant state, sir.  I have had very little experience of it myself up to the present.  I have only been married once.  That was in consequence of a misunderstanding between myself and a young woman.

~Importance of Being Earnest Act I

More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn’t read.

~Importance of Being Earnest Act I

To speak frankly, I am not in favour of long engagements.  They give people the opportunity of  finding out each other’s character before marriage, which I think is never advisable.

~Importance of Being Earnest Act III

Needless to say, I’ve been very much enjoying Oscar Wilde.  To quote Reading Railroad, “If you can’t take my word for it . . .” check out the book The Best of Oscar Wilde; Selected Plays and Writings.


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