We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

Oscar Wilde

In 1892, St. James’s Theatre in London staged the first performance of Oscar Wilde’s four-act comedy “Lady Windermere’s Fan.” The play’s wildly improbable plot, following an upper-class woman who suspects her husband of having an affair, didn’t stop it from becoming the Irish playwright’s first hit. Theatergoers loved it, especially Wilde’s characteristically dazzling dialogue. The play gave us many of his most quotable lines, including “I can resist anything except temptation” and “Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about.” But the most famous quote is this one, spoken by Lord Darlington to Mr. Dumby, a man who thinks all people are good. His simple but poignant observation about hope remains one of Wilde’s most succinct and beautiful lines.