Conversation as Currency

There is an anecdote in Richard Ellman’s biography of Oscar Wilde which has been in my mind a fair bit recently; at least, I think that’s where I remember it from.  and even if the story isn’t true, or I have not recalled it correctly, it still has a peculiar and compelling relevance.

Graham Greene recalled meeting Oscar Wilde in Paris when Greene was a very young man and Wilde was near broken and in exile after his release from prison.  They spent a congenial time together in a café bar, and Greene was gratified, but very surprised, at how Wilde entertaining was, that such an eminent man would be so gracious and engaging in conversation with young strangers; until he realised that Wilde was paying for the drinks Greene bought him in conversation, the only currency at his disposal.

A fair exchange.

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