Oscar Wilde

(Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde)

Quotes
Quote Topics Cited
Agitators are a set of interfering meddling people, who come down to some perfectly contented class of the community and sow the seeds of discontent amongst them. That is the reason why agitators are so absolutely necessary. Human Nature
All authority is quite degrading. It degrades those who exercise it, and it degrades those over whom it is exercised. Power
An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
Anybody can make history. Only a great man can write it. History
As one reads history, not in the expurgated editions written for schoolboys and passmen, but in the original authorities of each time, one is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted; and a community is infinitely more brutalised by the habitual employment of punishment than it is by the occasional occurrence of crime. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
Discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
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. Riots ;Civil Disorder, Riots, Protests & Demonstrations
Every man has his disciples, and it’s always Judas who writes the biography Loyalty & Loyalty Oaths
Experience is the name every one gives to their mistakes Management & Managing Government
Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
History is merely gossip. History
I adore political parties. They are the only place left to us where people don’t talk politics. Political Parties & Machines
I know not whether Laws be right, Or whether Laws be wrong; All that we know who lie in gaol… Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
I spent the entire morning inserting a comma; I spent the whole afternoon removing it again. Literature, Writers & Writing
In America the president reigns for four years, and journalism governs for ever and ever. Media, Journalism & The Press
It is the mark of a truly educated person to be deeply moved by statistics. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
Man can believe the impossible, but man can never believe the improbable. Human Nature
Misfortunes one can endure - they come from outside, they are accidents. But to suffer for one's own faults - ah! - there is the sting of life! Life
Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
One duty we owe to history is to rewrite it. History
Only people who look dull ever get into the House of Commons, and only people who are dull ever succeed there. Detriments & Qualifications ;Public Office: Benefits
Socialism annihilates family life, for instance. With the abolition of private property, marriage in its present form must disappear. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything. Except what is worth knowing. Journalism, conscious of this, and having tradesman-like habits, supplies their demands. Media, Journalism & The Press
The truth is rarely pure and never simple. Truth ;Miscellaneous
The vilest deeds like poison weeds, Bloom well in prison-air; It is only what is good in Man That wastes and withers there: Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
There is hardly a single person in the House of Commons worth painting; though many of them would be better for a little whitewashing. History
There is much to be said in favour of modern journalism. By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, it keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community. Media, Journalism & The Press
There is no sin except stupidity.
There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest ;Miscellaneous
We cannot re-write the whole of history for the purpose of gratifying our moral sense of what should be. History
Wherever there is a man who exercises authority, there is a man who resists authority! Power
Work is the curse of the drinking classes. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
A critic should be taught to criticise a work of art without making any reference to the personality of the author. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
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.
A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone's feelings unintentionally.
A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.
A man can be happy with any woman, as long as he does not love her. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
A man can't be too careful in the choice of his enemies.
A man who does not think for himself does not think at all.
A man's face is his autobiography. A woman's face is her work of fiction. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
A poet can survive everything but a misprint. Literature, Writers & Writing
A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.
A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Alas, I am dying beyond my means.
All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril. Those who read the symbol do so at their peril. It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors. Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex and vital. Life ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
All art is quite useless. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling. Literature, Writers & Writing
All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his. Women
Always forgive your enemies - nothing annoys them so much.
Ambition is the germ from which all growth of nobleness proceeds.
Ambition is the last refuge of the failure. Failure
America had often been discovered before Columbus, but it had always been hushed up.
America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.
An excellent man; he has no enemies; and none of his friends like him. Friendship
Anybody can be good in the country. There are no temptations there.
Arguments are extremely vulgar, for everyone in good society holds exactly the same opinion. Society
Arguments are to be avoided: they are always vulgar and often convincing.
Art is individualism, and individualism is a disturbing and disintegrating force. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
Art never harms itself by keeping aloof from the social problems of the day: rather, by so doing, it more completely realises for us that which we desire. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
Art should never try to be popular. The public should try to make itself artistic. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
As long as a woman can look ten years younger than her own daughter, she is perfectly satisfied.
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. War & Peace
Bad people are, from the point of view of art, fascinating studies. They represent colour, variety and strangeness. Good people exasperate one's reason; bad people stir one's imagination. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
Beauty has as many meanings as man has moods. Beauty is the symbol of symbols. Beauty reveals everything, because it expresses nothing. When it shows us itself, it shows us the whole fiery-coloured world.
Beauty is the only thing that time cannot harm. Philosophies fall away like sand, creeds follow one another, but what is beautiful is a joy for all seasons, a possession for all eternity. Time
Between men and women there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Women ;Relationships
Bigamy is having one wife too many. Monogamy is the same.
Biography lends to death a new terror. Death
By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, journalism keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.
Charity creates a multitude of sins.
Children begin by loving their parents; after a time they judge them; rarely, if ever, do they forgive them. Time
Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.
Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.
Death and vulgarity are the only two facts in the nineteenth century that one cannot explain away. Death
Deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance. Romantic
Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people.
Do you really think it is weakness that yields to temptation? I tell you that there are terrible temptations which it requires strength, strength and courage to yield to.
Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training ;Time
Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.
Everybody who is incapable of learning has taken to teaching. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
Everything popular is wrong.
Experience is one thing you can't get for nothing.
Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.
Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.
Fathers should be neither seen nor heard. That is the only proper basis for family life. Life ;Families, Children & Parenting
Hatred is blind, as well as love. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends. Friendship
How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as if she were a perfectly normal human being. Relationships
How marriage ruins a man! It is as demoralizing as cigarettes, and far more expensive. Families, Children & Parenting
I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself.
I am not young enough to know everything.
I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying.
I am the only person in the world I should like to know thoroughly.
I can resist everything except temptation. Humor
I can stand brute force, but brute reason is quite unbearable. There is something unfair about its use. It is hitting below the intellect.
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. Intelligence, Spying, Espionage & Covert Operations
I find it harder and harder every day to live up to my blue china.
I have a dining room done in different shades of white, with white cushions embroidered in yellow silk: the effect is absolutely delightful and the room beautiful.
I have never given adoration to any body except myself.
I have nothing to declare except my genius.
I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.
I like persons better than principles, and I like persons with no principles better than anything else in the world.
I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train. Travel
I put all my genius into my life; I put only my talent into my works. Life
I see when men love women. They give them but a little of their lives. But women when they love give everything. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Women ;Relationships
I sometimes think that God in creating man somewhat overestimated his ability. Religion & God
I suppose society is wonderfully delightful. To be in it is merely a bore. But to be out of it is simply a tragedy. Society
I think it is perfectly natural for any artist to admire intensely and love a young man. It is an incident in the life of almost every artist. Life ;Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
I think that God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability. Religion & God
I want my food dead. Not sick, not dying, dead. Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
I would have a workshop attached to every school, and one hour a day given up to the teaching of simple decorative arts. It would be a golden hour to the children.
If a work of art is rich and vital and complete, those who have artistic instincts will see its beauty, and those to whom ethics appeal more strongly than aesthetics will see its moral lesson. It will fill the cowardly with terror, and the unclean will see in it their own shame. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.
If one could only teach the English how to talk, and the Irish how to listen, society here would be quite civilized. Society
If one plays good music, people don't listen and if one plays bad music people don't talk. Music, Chants & Rapps
If there was less sympathy in the world, there would be less trouble in the world. Sympathy
If you are not too long, I will wait here for you all my life. Life ;Romantic
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.
Illusion is the first of all pleasures.
In all matters of opinion, our adversaries are insane.
In America the President reigns for four years, and Journalism governs forever and ever.
In America the young are always ready to give to those who are older than themselves the full benefits of their inexperience.
In designing the scenery and costumes for any of Shakespeare's plays, the first thing the artist has to settle is the best date for the drama. This should be determined by the general spirit of the play more than by any actual historical references which may occur in it.
In England, an inventor is regarded almost as a crazy man, and in too many instances, invention ends in disappointment and poverty. In America, an inventor is honoured, help is forthcoming, and the exercise of ingenuity, the application of science to the work of man, is there the shortest road to wealth. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
In its primary aspect, a painting has no more spiritual message than an exquisite fragment of Venetian glass. The channels by which all noble and imaginative work in painting should touch the soul are not those of the truths of lives. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
In judging of a beautiful statue, the aesthetic faculty is absolutely and completely gratified by the splendid curves of those marble lips that are dumb to our complaint, the noble modelling of those limbs that are powerless to help us.
In married life three is company and two none. Life
In modern life nothing produces such an effect as a good platitude. It makes the whole world kin. Life
It is a very sad thing that nowadays there is so little useless information.
It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.
It is always the unreadable that occurs.
It is better to be beautiful than to be good. But... it is better to be good than to be ugly.
It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating.
It is only an auctioneer who can equally and impartially admire all schools of art. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
It is only by not paying one's bills that one can hope to live in the memory of the commercial classes. Hope
It is only the modern that ever becomes old-fashioned.
It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors. Life ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
It is through art, and through art only, that we can realise our perfection. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. Life ;Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
Laughter is not at all a bad beginning for a friendship, and it is far the best ending for one. Friendship
Let us have no machine-made ornament at all; it is all bad and worthless and ugly.
Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life. Life ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about. Life
Life is never fair, and perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not. Life
Literature must rest always on a principle, and temporal considerations are no principle at all. For, to the poet, all times and places are one; the stuff he deals with is eternal and eternally the same: no theme is inept, no past or present preferable.
London is too full of fogs and serious people. Whether the fogs produce the serious people, or whether the serious people produce the fogs, I don't know.
Man is a rational animal who always loses his temper when he is called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason.
Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth. Truth
Memory... is the diary that we all carry about with us.
Men always want to be a woman's first love - women like to be a man's last romance. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Women
Men marry because they are tired; women, because they are curious; both are disappointed. Women
Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.
Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.
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.
Mr. Henry James writes fiction as if it were a painful duty.
No better way is there to learn to love Nature than to understand Art. It dignifies every flower of the field. And, the boy who sees the thing of beauty which a bird on the wing becomes when transferred to wood or canvas will probably not throw the customary stone. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Nature ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
No man is rich enough to buy back his past.
No object is so beautiful that, under certain conditions, it will not look ugly.
No woman should ever be quite accurate about her age. It looks so calculating.
Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul.
Nothing is so aggravating than calmness.
Nothing, indeed, is more dangerous to the young artist than any conception of ideal beauty: he is constantly led by it either into weak prettiness or lifeless abstraction: whereas to touch the ideal at all, you must not strip it of vitality.
Now that the House of Commons is trying to become useful, it does a great deal of harm.
One can survive everything, nowadays, except death, and live down everything except a good reputation. Death
One of the many lessons that one learns in prison is, that things are what they are and will be what they will be.
One should always be in love. That is the reason one should never marry. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Families, Children & Parenting
One should always play fairly when one has the winning cards.
One's past is what one is. It is the only way by which people should be judged.
One's real life is so often the life that one does not lead. Life
Only the shallow know themselves.
Ordinary riches can be stolen; real riches cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you.
Our ambition should be to rule ourselves, the true kingdom for each one of us; and true progress is to know more, and be more, and to do more.
Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious. Citizenship & Patriotism
Perhaps one of the most difficult things for us to do is to choose a notable and joyous dress for men. There would be more joy in life if we were to accustom ourselves to use all the beautiful colours we can in fashioning our own clothes. Life
Perhaps, after all, America never has been discovered. I myself would say that it had merely been detected.
Pessimist: One who, when he has the choice of two evils, chooses both.
Questions are never indiscreet, answers sometimes are.
Ridicule is the tribute paid to the genius by the mediocrities.
Romance should never begin with sentiment. It should begin with science and end with a settlement. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Romantic art deals with the exception and with the individual. Good people, belonging as they do to the normal, and so, commonplace type, are artistically uninteresting. Romantic ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.
Seriousness is the only refuge of the shallow.
She is a peacock in everything but beauty.
Society exists only as a mental concept; in the real world there are only individuals. Society
Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go. Happiness & Unhappiness
Success is a science; if you have the conditions, you get the result. Success ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Technique is really personality. That is the reason why the artist cannot teach it, why the pupil cannot learn it, and why the aesthetic critic can understand it.
The advantage of the emotions is that they lead us astray.
The basis of optimism is sheer terror.
The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.
The critic has to educate the public; the artist has to educate the critic.
The difference between literature and journalism is that journalism is unreadable and literature is not read.
The function of the artist is to invent, not to chronicle.
The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.
The imagination imitates. It is the critical spirit that creates.
'The Lady's World' should be made the recognized organ for the expression of women's opinions on all subjects of literature, art and modern life, and yet it should be a magazine that men could read with pleasure. Life ;Women ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
The man who can dominate a London dinner-table can dominate the world.
The mark of all good art is not that the thing done is done exactly or finely, for machinery may do as much, but that it is worked out with the head and the workman's heart. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
The moment you think you understand a great work of art, it's dead for you. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
The old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything, the young know everything.
The one charm about marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties. Life ;Families, Children & Parenting
The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future. Future
The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.
The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it... I can resist everything but temptation.
The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius. Intelligence, Spying, Espionage & Covert Operations
The salesman knows nothing of what he is selling save that he is charging a great deal too much for it.
The spirit of an age may be best expressed in the abstract ideal arts, for the spirit itself is abstract and ideal.
The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.
The typewriting machine, when played with expression, is no more annoying than the piano when played by a sister or near relation. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
The well bred contradict other people. The wise contradict themselves.
The world has grown suspicious of anything that looks like a happily married life. Life
The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast.
The world is divided into two classes, those who believe the incredible, and those who do the improbable.
There are many things that we would throw away if we were not afraid that others might pick them up.
There are only two kinds of people who are really fascinating - people who know absolutely everything, and people who know absolutely nothing.
There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it. Life
There is a luxury in self-reproach. When we blame ourselves we feel no one else has a right to blame us.
There is always something infinitely mean about other people's tragedies.
There is always something ridiculous about the emotions of people whom one has ceased to love. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
There is no necessity to separate the monarch from the mob; all authority is equally bad.
There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written.
There is nothing in the world like the devotion of a married woman. It is a thing no married man knows anything about. Families, Children & Parenting
There is nothing so difficult to marry as a large nose.
There is only one class in the community that thinks more about money than the rich, and that is the poor. The poor can think of nothing else. Money, Coins & Minting
There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about. Life
There is something terribly morbid in the modern sympathy with pain. One should sympathise with the colour, the beauty, the joy of life. The less said about life's sores the better. Life ;Sympathy
There should be a law that no ordinary newspaper should be allowed to write about art. The harm they do by their foolish and random writing it would be impossible to overestimate - not to the artist, but to the public, blinding them to all but harming the artist not at all. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
There's nothing in the world like the devotion of a married woman. It's a thing no married man knows anything about.
This suspense is terrible. I hope it will last. Hope ;Humor
Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.
Those whom the gods love grow young. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect. Intelligence, Spying, Espionage & Covert Operations
To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.
To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
True friends stab you in the front. Friendship
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
What we have to do, what at any rate it is our duty to do, is to revive the old art of Lying. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
When a man has once loved a woman he will do anything for her except continue to love her. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
When good Americans die they go to Paris.
When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is. Life ;Money, Coins & Minting
When the gods wish to punish us they answer our prayers.
Whenever a man does a thoroughly stupid thing, it is always from the noblest motives.
Whenever people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong.
While we look to the dramatist to give romance to realism, we ask of the actor to give realism to romance.
Who, being loved, is poor? Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
Why was I born with such contemporaries?
Woman begins by resisting a man's advances and ends by blocking his retreat.
Women are made to be loved, not understood. Women
Women are never disarmed by compliments. Men always are. That is the difference between the sexes. Women
Women love us for our defects. If we have enough of them, they will forgive us everything, even our gigantic intellects. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Women
Writing bores me so.
Yes, there is a terrible moral in 'Dorian Gray' - a moral which the prurient will not be able to find in it, but it will be revealed to all whose minds are healthy. Is this an artistic error? I fear it is. It is the only error in the book.
You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you have never had the courage to commit.