Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
Irish writer and wit
 

"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast."

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror."

"I am not young enough to know everything."

"He hadn't a single redeeming vice."

"The secret of life is in art."

"All great ideas are dangerous."

"Art never expresses anything but itself."

"Divorces are made in heaven."

"Artists, like the Greek gods, are only revealed to one another."

"The only beautiful things are the things that do not concern us."

"Comfort is the only thing our civilization can give us."

"Nothing that is worth knowing can be taught."

"Experience is one thing you can't get for nothing."

"Religion is the fashionable substitute for belief."

"Bore: a man who is never unintentionally rude."

"Scandal is gossip made tedious by morality."

"I don't like principles. I prefer prejudices."

"I have nothing to declare but my genius."

"Work is the curse of the drinking classes."

"Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative."

"All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling."

"Nothing is so aggravating as calmness."

"Popularity is the one insult I have never suffered."

"I love acting. It is so much more real than life."

"A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies."

"The advantage of the emotions is that they lead us astray."

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

"Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes."

"Whenever people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong."

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

"Missionaries are going to reform the world whether it wants to or not."

"Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about."

"Always forgive your enemies - nothing annoys them so much."

"Everyone who is incapable of learning has taken to teaching."

"To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance."

"It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating."

"Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess."

"I must decline your invitation owing to a subsequent engagement."

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

"In married life three is company and two none."

"The only possible form of exercise is to talk, not to walk."

"It is the confession, not the priest, that gives us absolution."

"I can resist everything except temptation."

"Action: the last resource of those who know not how to dream."

Pessimist: "One who, when he has the choice of two evils, chooses both."

"Democracy is the bludgeoning of the people, by the people, for the people."

"Morality is simply the attitude we adopt toward people we personally dislike."

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

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

"I am the only person in the world I should like to know thoroughly."

"America has been discovered before, but it has always been hushed up."

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

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

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

"Philosophy teaches us to bear with equanimity the misfortunes of others."

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

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

"Ah, well, then, I suppose that I shall have to die beyond my means."

"When the gods choose to punish us, they merely answer our prayers."

"The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means."

"A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal."

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

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

"Put your talent into your work, but your genius into your life."

"It is better to be beautiful than to be good, but it is better to be good than to be ugly."

"Society produces rogues, and education makes one rogue cleverer than another."

"What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing."

"Philanthropy is the refuge of rich people who wish to annoy their fellow creatures."

"Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months."

"It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious."

"Beauty is a form of Genius--is higher, indeed, than Genius, as it needs no explanation."

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

"What people call insincerity is simply a method by which we can multiply our personalities.

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

"One should never trust a woman who tells one her real age. A woman who would tell one that, would tell one anything."

"Children begin by loving their parents; after a time they judge them; rarely, if ever, do they forgive them."

"Journalism justifies its own existence by the great Darwinian principle of the survival of the vulgarist."

"Romance should never begin with sentiment. It should begin with science and end with a settlement."

"The brotherhood of man is not a mere poet's dream: it is a most depressing and humiliating reality."

"Rich bachelors should be heavily taxed. It is not fair that some men should be happier than others."

"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."

"Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account."

"Those who are faithful know only the trivial side of love: it is the faithless who know love's tragedies."

"Conscience and cowardice are really the same thing. Conscience is the trade-name of the firm."

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

"America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between."

"Men always want to be a woman's first love - women like to be a man's last romance."

"There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written."

"Man is a rational animal who always loses his temper when he is called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason."

"It is only by not paying one's bills that one can hope to live in the memory of the commercial classes."

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

"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."

"There is so 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 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."

"To be good, according to the vulgar standard of goodness, is obviously quite easy. It merely requires a certain amount of sordid terror, a certain low passion for middle-class respectability."

"My dear boy, the people who love only once in their lives are really the shallow people. What they call their loyalty and their fidelity, I call their lethargy of custom or their lack of imagination. Faithfulness is to the emotional life what constancy is to the intellect - simply a confession of failure. Faithfulness! I must analyse it some day. The passion for property is in it. There are many things that we would throw away if we were not afraid that others might pick them up."

Copyright: Kevin Harris 1995 (may be freely distributed with this acknowledgement)