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The Hunger Artists

A short-term investment in high-yield talent

Sep 1, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 47 • By JOE QUEENAN
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Perhaps the most interesting item of all is a report written by Oscar Wilde after his career lay in ruins. Finding no market for his work after serving two years in Reading Gaol, the disgraced Wilde emigrated to Paris. Penniless and deserted by his friends, Wilde had no choice but to take a job writing analyst reports at a seedy Montmartre brokerage house. Here is a typical example, contained in his report on municipal bonds being issued to build a new sewage system in Ivry-sur-Seine: “The only thing worse than building an absurdly expensive new sewage system in Ivry-sur-Seine is not building an absurdly expensive new sewage system in Ivry-sur-Seine.”

It was Wilde’s last paycheck.

Joe Queenan is the author, most recently, of One for the Books

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