Oscar Wilde Quotes
My name has two Os, two Fs and two Ws. A name that is destined to be in everybody’s mouth must not be too long. It comes so expensive in advertisements. When one is unknown, a number of Christian names are useful, perhaps even needful. As one becomes famous, one sheds some of them, just as a balloonist, ...rising higher, sheds unnecessary ballast... All but two of my five names have been thrown overboard. Soon I shall discard another and be known simply as ‘The Wilde’ or ‘The Oscar’.
Education is an admirable thing. But it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.
We teach people how to remember, we never teach them how to grow.
I am not young enough to know everything.
It is a very sad thing that nowadays there is so little useless information.
I have made an important discovery... that alcohol, taken in sufficient quantities, produces all the effect of intoxication.
Work is the curse of the drinking classes of this country.
America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.
Perhaps, after all, America never has been discovered. I myself would say that it has merely been detected.
In America the young are always ready to give to those who are older than themselves the full benefits of their inexperience.
We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language.
Few parents nowadays pay any regard to what their children say to them. The old-fashioned respect for the young is fast dying out.
To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune... to lose both seems like carelessness.
It is only the modern that ever becomes old-fashioned.
Of course the music is a great difficulty. You see, if one plays good music, people don't listen, and if one plays bad music people don't talk.
What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
One can always be kind to people about whom one cares nothing.
It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.
There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.
The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame.
There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written.
There is much to be said in favor of modern journalism. By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, it keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.
Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.
Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.
Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.
People fashion their God after their own understanding. They make their God first and worship him afterwards.
Bigamy is having one wife too many. Monogamy is the same.
A kiss may ruin a human life.
There is something tragic about the enormous number of young men there are in England at the present moment who start life with perfect profiles, and end by adopting some useful profession.
Unless one is wealthy there is no use in being a charming fellow. Romance is the privilege of the rich, not the profession of the unemployed. The poor should be practical and prosaic. It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating.
Every man of ambition has to fight his century with its own weapons. What this century worships is wealth. The God of this century is wealth. To succeed one must have wealth. At all costs one must have wealth.
Ambition is the last refuge of the failure.
As for the virtuous poor, one can pity them, of course, but one cannot possibly admire them. They have made private terms with the enemy, and sold their birthright for very bad pottage. They must also be extraordinarily stupid.
The basis of optimism is sheer terror.
The condition of perfection is idleness: the aim of perfection is youth.
Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.
I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their intellects. A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies.
He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends.
Life is too much important a thing ever to talk seriously about it.
Life is one fool thing after another whereas love is two fool things after each other.
There is no such thing as an omen. Destiny does not send us heralds. She is too wise or too cruel for that.
Experience is one thing you can't get for nothing.
Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.
The only thing to do with good advice is pass it on; it is never of any use to oneself.
When we are happy we are always good, but when we are good we are not always happy.
Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul.
How strange a thing this is! The Priest telleth me that the Soul is worth all the gold in the world, and the merchants say that it is not worth a clipped piece of silver.
The soul is born old but grows young. That is the comedy of life. And the body is born young and grows old. That is life's tragedy.
Ordinary riches can be stolen, real riches cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you.
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.
As long as war is regarded as wicked, it will always have its fascination. When it is looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular.
There are only two kinds of people who are really fascinating; people who know absolutely everything, and people who know absolutely nothing.
It is well for his peace that the saint goes to his martyrdom. He is spared the sight of the horror of his harvest.
The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one.
I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.
It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you place the blame.
Those who are faithful know only the trivial side of love: it is the faithless who know love's tragedies.
It often happens that the real tragedies of life occur in such an inartistic manner that they hurt us by their crude violence, their absolute incoherence, their absurd want of meaning, their entire lack of style.
In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.
Skepticism is the beginning of Faith.
Man is a rational animal who always loses his temper when he is called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason.
Men always want to be a woman's first love. That is theri clumsy vanity. We woman have a more subtle instinct about things. What we like is to be a man's last romance.
The husbands of very beautiful women belong to the criminal classes.
Women are made to be loved, not understood.
Women have a wonderful instinct about things. They can discover everything except the obvious.
Woman begins by resisting a man's advances and ends up blocking his retreat.
Women love us for our defects. If we have enough of them, they will forgive us everything, even our gigantic intellects.
No woman should ever be quite accurate about her age. It looks so calculating.
One should never trust a woman who tells her real age. If she tells that, she'll tell anything.
Crying is the refuge of plain women but the ruin of pretty ones.
Never speak disrespectfully of Society. Only people who can't get into it do that.
She is absolutely inadmissible into society. Many a woman has a past, but I am told that she has at least a dozen, and that they all fit.
To have the reputation of possessing the most perfect social tact, talk to every woman as if you loved her, and to every man as if he bored you.
Plain women are always jealous of their husbands. Beautiful women never are. They are always so occupied with being jealous of other women's husbands.
A man who does not think for himself does not think at all.
Self-denial is the shining sore on the leprous body of Christianity.
There is luxury in self-reproach. When we blame ourselves, we feel no one else has a right to blame us.
It is only the superficial qualities that last. Man's deeper nature is soon found out.
One should always be in love. That is the reason one should never marry.
The strength of women comes from the fact that psychology cannot explain us. Men can be analyzed, women merely adored.
Men marry because they are tires; women, because they are curious; both are disappointed.
When a woman marries again it is because she detested her first husband. When a man marries again it is because he adored his first wife. Women try their luck; men risk theirs.
Long engagements give people the opportunity of finding out each other's character before marriage, which is never advisable.
If you are not too long, I will wait here for you all my life.
The typewriting machine, when played with expression, is no more annoying than the piano when played by a sister or near relation.
He would stab his best friend for the sake of writing an epigram on his tombstone.
Argument are to be avoided; they are always vulgar and often convincing.
It is very vulgar to talk about one's business. Only people like stockbrokers do that, and then merely at dinner parties.
Vulgarity is simply the conduct of other people.
From the point of view of literature Mr. Kipling is a genius who drops his aspirates. From the point of view of life, he is a reporter who knows vulgarity better than any one has ever known it.
The well-bred contradict other people. The wise contradict themselves.
Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people.
While one should always study the method of a great artist, one should never imitate his manner. The manner of an artist is essentially individual, the method of an artist is absolutely universal. The first is personality, which no one should copy; the second is perfection, which all should aim at.
Art is the most intense mode of invidualism that the world has known.
No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did he would cease to be an artist.
One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art.
Bad artists always admire each others work.
Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.
All art is quite useless.
No work of art ever puts forward views. Views belong to people who are not artists.
Popularity is the crown of laurel which the world puts on bad art. Whatever is popular is wrong.
The stage is not merely the meeting place of all the arts, but is also the return of art to life.
It is through Art, and through Art only, that we can realise our perfection.
Literature always anticipates life. It does not copy it, but moulds it to its purpose. The nineteenth century, as we know it, is largely an invention of Balzac.
Lots of people act well, but few people talk well. This shows that talking is the more difficult of the two.
I love acting. It is so much more real than life.
I can believe anything provided it is incredible.
Yet each man kills the thing he loves from all let this be heard some does it with a bitter look some with a flattering word the coward does it with a kiss the brave man with the sword.
Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. The consciousness of loving and being loved brings a warmth and richness to life that nothing else can bring.
The sick do not ask if the hand that smoothes their pillow is pure, nor the dying care if the lips that touch their brow have known the kiss of sin.
The final mystery is oneself.
To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.
When one is in love, one always begins by deceiving one's self, and one always ends by deceiving others. That is what world calls a romance.
He must have a truly romantic nature, for he weeps when there is nothing at all to weep about.
There is always something ridiculous about the emotions of people whom one has ceased to love.
Shallow sorrows and shallow loves live on. The loves and sorrows that are great are destroyed by their own plenitude.
Only the shallow know themselves.
Between men and woman there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship.
Those whom the gods love grow young.
The aim of love is to love: no more, and no less.
Now it seems to me that love of some kind is the only possible explanation of the extraordinary amount of suffering that there is in the world.
The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.
No man is rich enough to buy back his past.
The truth is rarely pure and never simple.
There is no sin except stupidity.
The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.
One's past is what one is. It is the only way by which people should be judged.
If you pretend to be good, the world takes you very seriously. If you pretend to be bad, it doesn't. Such is the astounding stupidity of optimism.
Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast.
A man's very highest moment is, I have no doubt at all, when he kneels in the dust, and beats his breast, and tells all the sins of his life.
One's real life is so often the life that one does not lead.
The man who says he has exhausted life generally means that life has exhausted him.
He knew the precise psychological moment when to say nothing.
I never approve, or disapprove, of anything now. It is an absurd attitude to take towards life. We are not sent into the world to air our moral prejudices. I never take any notice of what common people say, and I never interfere with what charming people do.
Most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
The supreme object of life is to live. Few people live. It is true life only to realize one's own perfection, to make one's every dream a reality.
I have nothing to declare but my genius.
The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius.
An acquaintance that begins with a compliment is sure to develop into a real friendship.
But what is the good of friendship if one caanot say exactly what one means? Anybody can say charming things and try to please and to flatter, but a true friend always says unpleasant things, and does not mind giving pain. Indeed, if he is a really true friend he prefers it, for he knows that then he is going good.
Anbody can sympathize with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature - it requires, in fact, that nature of a true Individualist - to sympathize with a friend's success.
Ultimately the bond of all companionship, whether in marriage or in friendship, is conversation...
Frank Harris has been received in all the great houses -- once!
Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man's original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion.
To give an accurate description of what has never occurred is not merely the proper occupation of the historian, but the inalienable privilege of any man of parts and culture.
I think that God in creating man somewhat overestimated his ability.
Nowadays, all the married men live like bachelors, and all the bachelors like married men.
Rich bachelors should be heavily taxed. It is not fair that some men should be happier than others.
Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.
The Ideal Man should talk to us as if we were goddesses, and treat us as if we were children. He should refuse all our serious requests, and gratify every one of our whims. He should encourage us to have caprices, and forbid us to have missions. He should always say much more than he means, and always mean much more than he says.
I love talking about nothing. It is the only thing I know anything about.
One should never make one's debut in a scandal. One should reserve that to give interest to one's old age.
My experience is that as soon as people are old enough to know better, they don't know anything at all.
To regret one's own experiences is to arrest one's own development. To deny one's own experiences is to put a lie into the lips of one's life. It is no less than a denial of the soul.
Wickedness is a myth invented by good people to account for the curious attraction of others.
A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing.
The worst form of tyranny the world has ever known the tyranny of the weak over the strong. It is the only tyranny that lasts.
The intellect is not a serious thing, and never has been. It is an instrument on which one plays, that is all.
The imagination imitates. It is the critical spirit that creates.
Moderation is a fatal thing... Nothing succeeds like excess.
Looking good and dressing well is a necessity. Having a purpose in life is not.
I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying.
- More about Oscar Wilde
- Wilde Web
- The Wild Wilde Web
- Wilde The Movie
Back to main quotes
If you have quotation to add, please send it to me.