“A sentimentalist is simply one who wants to have the luxury of an emotion without paying for it. We think we can have our emotions for nothing. We cannot. Even the finest and most self-sacrificing emotions have to be paid for. Strangely enough, that is what makes them fine. The intellectual and emotional life of ordinary people is a very contemptible affair. Just as they borrow their ideas from a sort of circulating library of thought — the Zeitgeist of an age that has no soul — and send them back soiled at the end of each week, so they always try to get their emotions on credit, and refuse to pay the bill when it comes in. You should pass out of that conception of life. As soon as you have to pay for an emotion you will know its quality, and be the better for such knowledge. And remember that the sentimentalist is always a cynic at heart. Indeed, sentimentality is merely the bank holiday of cynicism.”
From De Profundis by Oscar Wilde (1897)
16-10-2013 – the 159th anniversary of Wilde’s birth. De Produndis is, strictly speaking, not a book, but a letter to his friend Lord Alfred Douglas, written by Wilde whilst imprisoned in Reading Gaol. He died three years later in 1900.