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75 Resounding Quotes by Oscar Wilde

Last updated on Jan 22nd, 2019

75 Resounding Quotes by Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde, in full Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde (born October 16, 1854, Dublin, Ireland – died November 30, 1900, Paris, France), was an Irish playwright, novelist, essayist, and poet.

Known for his wit, brilliant conversation and a large number of aphorisms, Wilde became one of the most influential and successful playwrights in the early 1890s. He was part of the late 19th-century Aesthetic movement in England, which advocated pure beauty and art for art’s sake.

His significant literary contributions include poetry, fairy tales, essays, plays and his only novel The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891). Several of his popular plays like Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892), An Ideal Husband (1895) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), continue to be widely performed.

Oscar Wilde’s work inspired many artists to new works or to pay tribute to him or his work.

1
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.'Act Three,' Lady Windermere's Fan (1892)
2
In married life three is company and two is none.'Act One,' The Importance of Being Earnest (1895)
3
A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.'The Critic as Artist,' Intentions (1891)
4
There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.'Chapter 1,' The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)
To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all. - Oscar Wilde (The Soul of Man Under Socialism Quotes)
5
To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.The Soul of Man Under Socialism (1891)
6
Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their life a mimicry, their passions a quotation.De Profundis (Written 1895-97, in Reading Gaol)
7
Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people. The Soul of Man Under Socialism (1891)
8
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.'The Critic as Artist,' Intentions (1891)
9
The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.'Chapter 19,' The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)
The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast. - Oscar Wilde (Lord Arthur Savile's Crime and Other Stories Quotes)
10
The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast.'Lord Arthur Savile's Crime,' Lord Arthur Savile's Crime and Other Stories (1891)
11
Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.'The Critic as Artist,' Intentions (1891)
12
It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.'Act One,' Lady Windermere's Fan (1892)
13
When the gods wish to punish us they answer our prayers.'Second Act,' An Ideal Husband (1895)
14
Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.'The Preface,' The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)
Education is an admirable thing. But it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught. - Oscar Wilde Quotes
15
Education is an admirable thing. But it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.'A Few Maxims for the Instruction of the Over-Educated,' in the Saturday Review (November 17, 1894)
16
Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.'Chapter 3,' The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)
17
The old believe everything: the middle-aged suspect everything: the young know everything.'Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young,' in the Oxford student magazine The Chameleon (December 1894)
18
Experience is the name every one gives to their mistakes.'Act Three,' Lady Windermere's Fan (1892)
19
Society often forgives the criminal; it never forgives the dreamer.'The Critic as Artist,' Intentions (1891)
A man who does not think for himself does not think at all. - Oscar Wilde (The Soul of Man Under Socialism Quotes)
20
A man who does not think for himself does not think at all.The Soul of Man Under Socialism (1891)
21
We live in an age when unnecessary things are our only necessities.'Chapter 8,' The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)
22
Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone.'Act One,' The Importance of Being Earnest (1895)
23
In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.'Act Three,' Lady Windermere's Fan (1892)
24
And, after all, what is a fashion? From the artistic point of view, it is usually a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.'The Philosophy of Dress,' New-York Tribune (April 19, 1885)
Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike. - Oscar Wilde (An Ideal Husband Quotes)
25
Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike.'Second Act,' An Ideal Husband (1895)
26
Pleasure is Nature’s test, her sign of approval. When we are happy we are always good, but when we are good we are not always happy.'Chapter 6,' The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)
27
A poet can survive everything but a misprint.'The Children of the Poets,' The Pall Mall Gazette (October 14, 1886)
28
In old days books were written by men of letters and read by the public. Nowadays books are written by the public and read by nobody.'A Few Maxims for the Instruction of the Over-Educated,' in the Saturday Review (November 17, 1894)
29
Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.The Soul of Man Under Socialism (1891)
If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use reading it at all. - Oscar Wilde (Intentions Quotes)
30
If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use reading it at all.'The Decay of Lying,' Intentions (1891)
31
To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.'Third Act,' An Ideal Husband (1895)
32
When one is in love one begins by deceiving oneself. And one ends by deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance.'Act Three,' A Woman of No Importance (1893)
33
An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.'The Critic as Artist,' Intentions (1891)
34
A really well-made buttonhole is the only link between Art and Nature.'Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young,' in the Oxford student magazine The Chameleon (December 1894)
Women are meant to be loved, not to be understood. - Oscar Wilde (Lord Arthur Savile's Crime and Other Stories Quotes)
35
Women are meant to be loved, not to be understood.'The Sphinx Without a Secret,' Lord Arthur Savile's Crime and Other Stories (1891)
36
When a man has once loved a woman, he will do anything for her, except continue to love her.'Third Act,' An Ideal Husband (1895)
37
One should always be in love. That is the reason one should never marry.'Act Three,' A Woman of No Importance (1893)
38
Between men and women there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship.'Act Two,' Lady Windermere's Fan (1892)
39
Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life.'The Decay of Lying,' Intentions (1891)
What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. - Oscar Wilde (Lady Windermere's Fan Quotes)
40
What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.'Act Three,' Lady Windermere's Fan (1892)
41
Nothing is so aggravating as calmness.'Act Two,' A Woman of No Importance (1893)
42
The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means.'Act Two,' The Importance of Being Earnest (1895)
43
There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.'The Preface,' The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)
44
One can survive everything nowadays, except death, and live down anything except a good reputation.'Act One,' A Woman of No Importance (1893)
Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it. - Oscar Wilde (Lady Windermere's Fan Quotes)
45
Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it.'Act One,' Lady Windermere's Fan (1892)0)
46
The mystery of love is greater than the mystery of death.Salomé (1891)
47
There are only two kinds of people who are really fascinating – people who know absolutely everything, and people who know absolutely nothing.'Chapter 5,' The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)
48
Anybody can make history. Only a great man can write it.'The Critic as Artist,' Intentions (1891)
49
A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.'Chapter I,' The Portrait of Mr. W. H. (1889)
We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell. - Oscar Wilde (The Duchess of Padua Quotes)
50
We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.'Act V,' The Duchess of Padua (1883)
51
The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible…'Chapter 2,' The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)
52
The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius.'The Critic as Artist,' Intentions (1891)
53
Life is never fair. And perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not.'Second Act,' An Ideal Husband (1895)
54
Hard work is simply the refuge of people who have nothing whatever to do.'The Remarkable Rocket,' The Happy Prince and Other Stories (1888)
The true perfection of man lies, not in what man has, but in what man is. - Oscar Wilde (The Soul of Man Under Socialism Quotes)
55
The true perfection of man lies, not in what man has, but in what man is.The Soul of Man Under Socialism (1891)
56
A man can be happy with any woman, as long as he does not love her.'Chapter 15,' The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)
57
Fashion is what one wears oneself. What is unfashionable is what other people wear.'Third Act,' An Ideal Husband (1895)
58
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.'Act One,' Lady Windermere's Fan (1892)
59
Wherever there is a man who exercises authority, there is a man who resists authority.The Soul of Man Under Socialism (1891)
Laughter is not at all a bad beginning for a friendship, and it is far the best ending for one. - Oscar Wilde (The Picture of Dorian Gray Quotes)
60
Laughter is not at all a bad beginning for a friendship, and it is far the best ending for one.'Chapter 1,' The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)
61
Children begin by loving their parents. After a time they judge them. Rarely if ever do they forgive them.'Act Four,' A Woman of No Importance (1893)
62
No object is so beautiful that, under certain conditions, it will not look ugly.'Lecture to Art Students,' Delivered to the Art students of the Royal Academy at their Club in Golden Square, Westminster (June 30, 1883)
63
One is tempted to define man as a rational animal who always loses his temper when he is called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason.'The Critic as Artist,' Intentions (1891)
64
Wealthy people are, as a class, better than impoverished people, more moral, more intellectual, more well-behaved. 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. That is the misery of being poor.The Soul of Man Under Socialism (1891)
The tragedy of old age is not that one is old, but that one is young. - Oscar Wilde (The Picture of Dorian Gray Quotes)
65
The tragedy of old age is not that one is old, but that one is young.'Chapter 19,' The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)
66
Ambition is the last refuge of the failure.'Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young,' in the Oxford student magazine The Chameleon (December 1894)
67
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.'The Critic as Artist,' Intentions (1891)
68
A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies.'Chapter 1,' The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)
69
Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.'Act Three,' A Woman of No Importance (1893)
The truth is rarely pure and never simple. - Oscar Wilde (The Importance of Being Earnest Quotes)
70
The truth is rarely pure and never simple.'Act One,' The Importance of Being Earnest (1895)
71
The one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties.'Chapter 1,' The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)
72
One should always play fairly… when one has the winning cards.'Act One,' An Ideal Husband (1895)
73
The very essence of romance is uncertainty.'Act One,' The Importance of Being Earnest (1895)
74
There are many things that we would throw away if we were not afraid that others might pick them up.'Chapter 4,' The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)
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. - Oscar Wilde (Intentions Quotes)
75
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.'The Critic as Artist,' Intentions (1891)

Bonus

1
When one pays a visit it is for the purpose of wasting other people’s time, not one’s own.'Fourth Act,' An Ideal Husband (1895)
2
Nothing should be able to harm a man except himself. Nothing should be able to rob a man at all. What a man really has, is what is in him. What is outside of him should be a matter of no importance.The Soul of Man Under Socialism (1891)
3
I can resist everything except temptation.'Act One,' Lady Windermere's Fan (1892)
4
Indifference is the revenge the world takes on mediocrities.'Act II,' Vera; or, The Nihilists (1880)
Absinthe: After the first glass, you see things as you wish they were. After the second, you see them as they are not. Finally, you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world. - Oscar Wilde Quotes
5
Absinthe: After the first glass, you see things as you wish they were. After the second, you see them as they are not. Finally, you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world.Letters to the Sphinx from Oscar Wilde: With Reminiscences of the Author by Ada Leverson (London: Duckworth, 1930)
6
The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.'Act III,' A Woman of No Importance (1893)
7
I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.Quoted in 'Oscar Wilde, an idler's impression' by Edgar Saltus (1917)
8
Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one’s head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no to-morrow. To forget time, to forgive life, to be at peace.'Chapter 5,' The Canterville Ghost (1887)
9
Ordinary riches can be stolen from a man. Real riches cannot. In the treasury-house of your soul, there are infinitely precious things, that may not be taken from you.The Soul of Man Under Socialism (1891)
If one plays good music, people don't listen, and if one plays bad music people don't talk. - Oscar Wilde (The Importance of Being Earnest Quotes)
10
If one plays good music, people don’t listen, and if one plays bad music people don’t talk.'Act I,' The Importance of Being Earnest (1895)