Title Image - Quotes by Author Oscar Wilde

Quotes by Oscar Wilde

Welcome to our collection of quotes (with shareable picture quotes) by Oscar Wilde. We hope you enjoy pondering them and that you will share them widely.

Wikipedia Summary for Oscar Wilde

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900) was an Irish poet and playwright. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, the early 1890s saw him become one of the most popular playwrights in London. He is best remembered for his epigrams and plays, his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, and the circumstances of his criminal conviction for gross indecency for consensual homosexual acts in "one of the first celebrity trials", imprisonment, and early death from meningitis at age 46.

Wilde's parents were Anglo-Irish intellectuals in Dublin. A young Wilde learned to speak fluent French and German. At university, Wilde read Greats; he demonstrated himself to be an exceptional classicist, first at Trinity College Dublin, then at Oxford. He became associated with the emerging philosophy of aestheticism, led by two of his tutors, Walter Pater and John Ruskin. After university, Wilde moved to London into fashionable cultural and social circles.

As a spokesman for aestheticism, he tried his hand at various literary activities: he published a book of poems, lectured in the United States and Canada on the new "English Renaissance in Art" and interior decoration, and then returned to London where he worked prolifically as a journalist. Known for his biting wit, flamboyant dress and glittering conversational skill, Wilde became one of the best-known personalities of his day. At the turn of the 1890s, he refined his ideas about the supremacy of art in a series of dialogues and essays, and incorporated themes of decadence, duplicity, and beauty into what would be his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890). The opportunity to construct aesthetic details precisely, and combine them with larger social themes, drew Wilde to write drama. He wrote Salome (1891) in French while in Paris but it was refused a licence for England due to an absolute prohibition on the portrayal of Biblical subjects on the English stage. Unperturbed, Wilde produced four society comedies in the early 1890s, which made him one of the most successful playwrights of late-Victorian London.

At the height of his fame and success, while The Importance of Being Earnest (1895) was still being performed in London, Wilde prosecuted the Marquess of Queensberry for criminal libel. The Marquess was the father of Wilde's lover, Lord Alfred Douglas. The libel trial unearthed evidence that caused Wilde to drop his charges and led to his own arrest and trial for gross indecency with men. After two more trials he was convicted and sentenced to two years' hard labour, the maximum penalty, and was jailed from 1895 to 1897. During his last year in prison, he wrote De Profundis (published posthumously in 1905), a long letter which discusses his spiritual journey through his trials, forming a dark counterpoint to his earlier philosophy of pleasure. On his release, he left immediately for France, and never returned to Ireland or Britain. There he wrote his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898), a long poem commemorating the harsh rhythms of prison life.


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



And all men kill the thing they love, By all 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.



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.



Bureaucracy expands to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy.



There is not a single colour hidden away in the chalice of a flower, or the curve of a shell, to which, by some subtle sympathy with the very soul of things, my nature does not answer.



One of the chief faults of modern dress is that it is composed of far too many articles of clothing, most of which are the wrong substance.



It takes a thoroughly good woman to do a thoroughly stupid thing.



Divorces are made in heaven.



Nothing spoils romance so much as a sense of humor in the woman.



I like people who are young, bright, happy, careless and original. I do not like them sensible, and I do not like them old.



Disobedience, in the eyes of any one who has read history, is human's original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion.



Disobedience is man's original virtue.



Ignorance is like a delicate fruit; touch it, and the bloom is gone.



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



The commonest thing is delightful if one only hides it.



It was better to be good-looking than to be good.



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



A man's face is his autobiography. A women's face is her work of fiction.



No matter who broke your heart, or how long it takes to heal, you'll never get through it without your friends.



Remember that the fool in the eyes of the gods and the fool in the eyes of man are very different.

Longer Version:

Remember that the fool in the eyes of the gods and the fool in the eyes of man are very different. One who is entirely ignorant of the modes of Art in its revolution or the moods of thought in its progress, of the pomp of the Latin line or the richer music of the vowelled Greeks, of Tuscan sculpture or Elizabethan song may yet be full of the very sweetest wisdom. The real fool, such as the gods mock or mar, is he who does not know himself. I was such a one too long. You have been such a one too long. Be so no more. Do not be afraid. The supreme vice is shallowness. Everything that is realised is right.



The method by which the fool arrives at his folly was as dear to him as the ultimate wisdom of the wise.



Dullness is always an irresistible temptation for brilliancy, and stupidity is the permanent Bestia Trionfans that calls wisdom from its cave.



Wickedness is a myth invented by good people to account for the attractiveness of other.



The truth about the life of a man is not what he does, but the legend which he creates around himself.



Curious thing, plain women are always jealous of their husbands, beautiful women never are!



In this world there are two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it. The last is much the worst.



Out of doors one becomes abstract and impersonal. One's individuality absolutely leaves one.



Individualism has really the higher aim. Modern morality consists in accepting the standard of one's age.



The essence of art is to produce the modern idea under an antique form.



A kiss may ruin a human life.



Some cause happiness wherever they go. Others whenever they go.



To deny one's own experiences is to put a lie into the lips of one's own life. It is no less than a denial of the soul.



The sphere of art and the sphere of ethics are absolutely distinct and separate.



Nothing should be out of the reach of hope. Life is a hope.



Rudderless, we drift athwart a tempest, and when once the storm of youth is past, Without lyre, without lute or chorus, Death the silent pilot comes at last.



And no hand can gather up the fallen withered petals of the rose of youth.



To love oneself is the beginning of a life long romance.



In a very ugly and sensible age, the arts borrow, not from life, but from each other.



We lose our chances, we lose our figures, we even lose our characters; but we must never lose our tempers. That is our duty to our neighbor...but sometimes we mislay it, don't we?



It is very vulgar to talk like a dentist when one isn't a dentist. It produced a false impression.



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



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

Longer Version:

It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.



Hearts live by being wounded.



The mere mechanical technique of acting can be taught, but the spirit that is to give life to lifeless forms must be born in a man. No dramatic college can teach its pupils to think or to feel.

Longer Version:

The mere mechanical technique of acting can be taught, but the spirit that is to give life to lifeless forms must be born in a man. No dramatic college can teach its pupils to think or to feel. It is Nature who makes our artists for us, though it may be Art who taught them their right mode of expression.



I think it's very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not defined by another person.



Memory is the diary that we all carry about with us.



Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do.



Literature always anticipates life. It does not copy it, but moulds it to its purpose.



I don't say we all ought to misbehave. But we ought to look as if we could.



It is better to know and be disappointed, than to not know and always wonder.



Duty is what one expects from others.



We are never more true to ourselves than when we are inconsistent.



Romantic literature is in effect imaginative lying.



Truth, in matters of religion, is simply the opinion that has survived.



No work of art ever puts forward views. Views belong to people who are not artists.



What a pity that in life we only get our lessons when they are of no use to us.



A book or poem which has no pity in it had better not be written.



Ethics, like natural selection, make existence possible. Aesthetics, like sensual selection, make life lovely and wonderful, fill it with new forms, and give it progress, and variety and change.



What is termed Sin is an essential element of progress. Without it the world would stagnate, or grow old, or become colourless.

Longer Version:

What is termed Sin is an essential element of progress. Without it the world would stagnate, or grow old, or become colorless. By its curiosity Sin increases the experience of the race. Through its intensified assertion of individualism it saves us from monotony of type. In its rejection of the current notions about morality, it is one with the higher ethics.



I have learned this: it is not what one does that is wrong, but what one becomes as a consequence of it.



Progress is the realization of utopia.



If I could get back my youth, I'd do anything in the world except get up early, take exercise or be respectable.



I did not know it was such pain to die; I thought that life had taken all the agonies to itself.



If Dorian wishes it, of course you must stay. Dorian's whims are laws to everybody, except himself.



What is abnormal in Life stands in normal relations to Art. It is the only thing in Life that stands in normal relations to Art.



Most people live for love and admiration. But it is by love and admiration that we should live.

Longer Version:

Most people live for love and admiration. But it is by love and admiration that one should live. If any love is shown us we should recognize that we are quite unworthy of it. Nobody is worthy to be loved... or if that phrase is a bitter one to bear, let us say that everyone is worthy of love, except him who thinks he is. Love is a sacrament that should be taken kneeling..



Wherever there is a man who exercises authority, there is a man who resists authority.



I am dazed with a dull sense of pain. I had fed on hope, and now anguish, grown hungry, feeds her fill on me as though she had been starved of her proper appetite.



Don't be led astray into the paths of virtue.



Good artists exist simply in what they make, and consequently are perfectly uninteresting in what they are.



None of us men do look what we really are. Demmed good thing, too.



One's days were too brief to take the burden of another's errors on one's shoulders. Each man lived his own life and paid his own price for living it.



From the moment I met you, your personality had the most extraordinary influence over me. I was dominated, soul brain and power.



I don't like compliments, and I don't see why a man should think he is pleasing a woman enormously when he says to her a whole heap of things that he doesn't mean.



There was so much in you that charmed me that I felt I must tell you something about yourself. I thought how tragic it would be if you were wasted.



The weather still continues charming.



Ours is certainly the dullest and most prosaic century possible.



What consoles one nowadays is not repentance but pleasure. Repentance is quite out of date.



A woman's life revolves in curves of emotions. It is upon lines of intellect that a man's life progresses.



The curves of your lips rewrite history.



The fact is, that civilization requires slaves. Human slavery is wrong, insecure, and demoralizing. On mechanical slavery, on the slavery of the machine, the future of the world depends.



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



Some red star had come too close to the earth.



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



Perhaps in nearly every joy, as certainly in every pleasure, cruelty has its place.



These sudden conversions do not please me.



Every single work of art is the fulfillment of a prophecy; for every work of art is the conversion of an idea into an image.



The birds that were singing in the dew-drenched garden seemed to be telling the flowers about her.



Better the rule of One, whom all obey, than to let clamorous demagogues betray our freedom with the kiss of anarchy.



I wrote when I did not know life;
now that I know life, I have no more to say.



A bishop keeps on saying at the age of eighty what he was told to say at the age of eighteen.



If you want to be a doormat you have to lay yourself down first.



Things are in their essence what we choose to make them. A thing is, according to the mode in which one looks at it.



The worst vice of the fanatic is his sincerity.



Fashion: by which what is really fantastic becomes for a moment the universal.



I didn't say I liked it. I said it fascinated me. There is a great difference.



I was dominated, soul, brain, and power by you. You became to me the visible incarnation of that unseen ideal whose memory haunts us artists like an exquisite dream.



Don't be afraid. There are exquisite things in store for you. This is merely the beginning.



In examinations the foolish ask questions that the wise cannot answer.



There never has been an artistic age, or an artistic people, since the beginning of the world. The artist has always been, and will always be, an exquisite exception.



Shakespeare appreciated the value of lovely costumes in adding picturesqueness to poetry, but he saw how important costume is as a means of producing certain dramatic effects.



Most people are other people.

Longer Version:

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



It would be unfair to expect other people to be as brilliant as oneself.



It is only fair to state, with regard to modern journalists, that they always apologize to one in private for what they have written against one in public.



More women grow old nowadays through the faithfulness of their admirers than through anything else.



I don't play accurately -- any one can play accurately -- but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life.



Everything is going to be fine in the end.
If it's not fine it's not the end.



I am going to take up the study of German: indeed this seems to be the proper place for such a study.



You will always be loved, and you will always be in love with love.



The girl never really lived, and so she has never really died.



I don't want to see him alone. He says things that annoy me. He gives me good advice.

Longer Version:

I don't want to see him alone. He says things that annoy me. He gives me good advice." Lord Henry smiled. "People are very fond of giving away what they need most themselves. It is what I call the depth of generosity.



There is only good art and mediocre art.



Those who have much are often greedy. Those who have little always share.



Good intentions have been the ruin of the world. The only people who have achieved anything have been those who have had no intentions at all.



All bad art is the result of good intentions.



Good intentions are invariably ungrammatical.



Have nothing in your house that is not useful or beautiful; if such a rule were followed out, you would be astonished at the amount of rubbish you would get rid of.



That is because one realises one's soul only by getting rid of all alien passions, all acquired culture, and all external possessions, be they good or evil.



Progress in thought is the assertion of individualism against authority.



I am quite incapable of understanding how any work of art can be criticized from a moral standpoint. The sphere of art and the sphere of ethics are absolutely distinct and separate.


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