Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde Quotes

(October 16, 1854 - November 30, 1900)

Oscar Wilde Quotes (database)


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.

A man can’t be to careful in his choice of enemies.

A man who moralizes is usually a hypocrite, and a woman who moralizes is usually plain.

A man’s face is his autobiography. A woman’s face is her work of fiction.

A poet can survive everything but a misprint.

A really well made buttonhole is the only link between art and nature.

A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.

A true friend stabs you in the front.

A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament.

Alas, I am dying beyond my means.

All art is quite useless.

All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling.

All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.

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.

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 idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.

Anybody can be good in the country; there are no temptations there.

Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.

Arguments are to be avoided; they are always vulgar and often convincing.

Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.

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.

As yet, Bernard Shaw hasn’t become prominent enough to have any enemies, but none of his friends like him.

At 46 one must be a miser; only have time for essentials.

At twilight, nature is not without loveliness, though perhaps its chief use is to illustrate quotations from the poets.

Beauty is a form of genius - is higher, indeed, than genius, as it needs no explanation. It is of the great facts in the world like sunlight, or springtime, or the reflection in dark water of that silver shell we call the moon.

Between men and women there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship.

Bigamy is having one wife too many. Monogamy is the same.

Biography lends to death a new terror.

By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, journalism keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.

By persistently remaining single, a man converts himself into a permanent public temptation.

Caricature is the tribute that mediocrity pays to genius.

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.

Children have a natural antipathy to books - handicraft should be the basis of education. Boys and girls should be taught to use their hands to make something, and they would be less apt to destroy and be mischievous.

Conscience and cowardice are really the same things. Conscience is the trade-name of the firm. That is all.

Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.

Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.

Cynic: a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance.

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.

Each class preaches the importance of those virtues it need not exercise. The rich harp on the value of thrift, the idle grow eloquent over the dignity of labor.

Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.

Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.

Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.

Everyone should keep someone else’s diary.

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.

Hatred is blind, as well as love.

He hadn’t a single redeeming vice.

He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends.

He lives the poetry that he cannot write. The others write the poetry that they dare not realize.

He must have a truly romantic nature, for he weeps when there is nothing at all to weep about.

He was always late on principle; his principle being that punctuality is the thief of time.

Her capacity for family affection is extraordinary: when her third husband died, her hair turned quite gold from grief.

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.

How marriage ruins a man! It is as demoralizing as cigarettes, and far more expensive.

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.

I always like to know everything about my new friends, and nothing about my old ones.

I am not young enough to know everything.

I can believe anything as long as it is incredible.

I have nothing to declare except my genius.

I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.

I hope you have not been leading a double life, pretending to be wicked and being really good all the time. That would be hypocrisy.

I must decline your invitation owing to a subsequent engagement.

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.

I put all my genius into my life; I put only my talent into my works.

I think that God in creating Man somewhat overestimated his ability.

I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.

I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance.

I like men who have a future and women who have a past.

I never play cricket. It requires one to assume such indecent postures.

I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.

I see when men love women. They give them but a little of their lives. But women when they love give everything.

I suppose society is wonderfully delightful. To be in it is merely a bore. But to be out of it is simply a tragedy.

I think that God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability.

I want my food dead. Not sick, not dying - dead.

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.

If one plays good music, people don’t listen and if one plays bad music people don’t talk.

If there was less sympathy in the world, there would be less trouble in the world.

If you are not too long, I will wait here for you all my life.

If you meet at dinner a man who has spent his life in educating himself, you rise from the table richer, and conscious that a high ideal has for a moment touched and sanctified your days.

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 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 England people actually try to be brilliant at breakfast. That is so dreadful of them! Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast.

In every first novel the hero is the author as Christ or Faust.

In married life, three is company and two none.

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 an odd thing, but every one who disappears is said to be seen at San Francisco. It must be a delightful city, and possess all the attractions of the next world.

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.

It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances.

It is perfectly monstrous the way people go about nowadays saying things against one, behind one’s back, that are absolutely and entirely true.

It is through art, and through art only, that we can realize our perfection.

It is very vulgar to talk about one’s business. Only people like stockbrokers do that, and then merely at dinner parties.

It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.

Its failings notwithstanding, there is much to be said in favor of journalism in that by giving us the opinion of the uneducated, it keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.

Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.

Laughter is not at all a bad beginning for a friendship, and it is far the best ending for one.

Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life.

Life is a pilgrimage. The wise man does not rest by the roadside inns. He marches direct to the illimitable domain of eternal bliss, his ultimate destination.

Life is never fair, and perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not.

Life is too important to be taken seriously.

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.

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.

Mere colour, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways.

Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike.

Morality, like art, means drawing a line someplace.

Most modern calendars mar the sweet simplicity of our lives by reminding us that each day that passes is the anniversary of some perfectly uninteresting event.

Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.

Music is the art which is most nigh to tears and memory.

Music makes one feel so romantic - at least it always gets on one’s nerves - which is the same thing nowadays.

My great mistake, the fault for which I can’t forgive myself, is that one day I ceased my obstinate pursuit of my own individuality.

My own business always bores me to death; I prefer other people’s.

No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist.

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 as calmness.

Nothing looks so like innocence as an indiscretion.

Nothing makes one so vain as being told one is a sinner. Conscience makes egotists of us all.

Nothing succeeds like excess.

Now that the House of Commons is trying to become useful, it does a great deal of harm.

Nowadays to be intelligible is to be found out.

Of course I have played outdoor games. I once played dominoes in an open air cafe in Paris.

One can survive everything, nowadays, except death, and live down everything except a good reputation.

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 must have some sort of occupation nowadays. If I hadn’t my debts I shouldn’t have anything to think about.

One should always be in love. That is the reason one should never marry.

One should always play fairly when one has the winning cards.

One should never trust a woman who tells her real age; a woman who would tell one would tell one anything.

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.

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.

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.

Please do not shoot the pianist. He is doing his best.

Questions are never indiscreet; answers sometimes are.

Relations are simply a tedious pack of people, who haven’t got the remotest knowledge of how to live, nor the smallest instinct about when to die.

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 wore far too much rouge last night and not quite enough clothes. That is always a sign of despair in a woman.

Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.

Some of these people need ten years of therapy - ten sentences of mine do not equal ten years of therapy.

Success is a science; if you have the conditions, you get the result.

The basis of optimism is sheer terror.

The best way to make children is to make them happy.

The Book of Life begins with a man and woman in a garden, and it ends with Revelations.

The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.

The difference between literature and journalism is that journalism is unreadable and literature is not read.

The English country gentleman galloping after a fox - the unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable.

The General was essentially a man of peace, except in his domestic life.

The gods bestowed on him the gift of perpetual old age.

The good end happily, the bad unhappily - that is what fiction means.

The imagination imitates. It is the critical spirit that creates.

The liar at any rate recognizes that recreation, not instruction, is the aim of conversation, and is a far more civilized being than the blockhead who loudly expresses his disbelief in a story which is told simply for the amusement of the company.

The man who can dominate a London dinner-table can dominate the world.

The moment you think you understand a great work of art, it’s dead for you.

The old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything, the young know everything.

The one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties.

The only thing to do with good advice is pass it on. It is never any use to oneself.

The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.

The past is of no importance. The present is of no importance. It is with the future that we have to deal. For the past is what man should not have been. The present is what man ought not to be. The future is what artists are.

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.

The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius.

The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.

The reason we are so pleased to find other people’s secrets is that it distracts public attention from our own.

The salesman knows nothing of what he is selling save that he is charging a great deal too much for it.

The security of Society lies in custom and unconscious instinct, and the basis of the stability of Society, as a healthy organism, is the complete absence of any intelligence amongst its members.

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.

The world has grown suspicious of anything that looks like a happily married 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 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.

There are two ways of disliking poetry; one way is to dislike it, the other is to read Pope.

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.

There is no such thing as an omen. Destiny does not send us heralds. She is too wise or too cruel for that.

There is nothing in the world like the devotion of a married woman. It is a thing no married man knows anything about.

There is nothing so difficult to marry as a large nose.

There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.

This suspense is terrible. I hope it will last.

To disagree with three-fourths of the British public is one of the first requisites of sanity.

To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect.

To lose one parent may be regarded as misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.

To many, no doubt, he will seem blatent and bumptious, but we prefer to regard him as being simply British.

To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.

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.

Those whom the gods love grow young.

Twenty years of romance make a woman look like a ruin, but twenty years of marriage make her something like a public building.

Vulgarity is simply the conduct of others.

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

We really have everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language.

What we have to do, what at any rate it is our duty to do, is to revive the old art of Lying.

When a man has once loved a woman he will do anything for her except continue to love her.

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.

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.

When people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong.

When the gods wish to punish us they answer our prayers.

Who, being loved, is poor?

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 are never disarmed by compliments. Men always are. That is the difference between the sexes.

Women’s styles may change but their designs remain the same.

Work is the curse of the drinking classes.

Yet each man kills the thing he loves, by each let this be heard, some do it with a bitter look, some with a flattering word. The coward does it with a kiss, the brave man with a sword!

Young men want to be faithful and are not; old men want to be faithless and cannot.


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21-Nov-2017