Quotes by Oscar Wilde

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Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (October 16, 1854 November 30, 1900) was an Anglo-Irish playwright, novelist, poet, and short story writer. One of the most successful playwrights of late Victorian London, and one of the ... more

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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.

Lots of people act well, but few people talk well. This shows that talking is the more difficult of the two.
The State is to make what is useful. The individual is to make what is beautiful.
While one should always study the method of a great artist, one should never imitate his manner. The manner of an artist is essentially individual, the method of an artist is absolutely universal. The first is personality, which no one should copy; the second is perfection, which all should aim at.
Nothing succeeds like success.
I can sympathize with everything, except suffering.
Nobody of any real culture, for instance, ever talks nowadays about the beauty of sunset. Sunsets are quite old fashioned. To admire them is a distinct sign of provincialism of temperament. Upon the other hand they go on.
Sympathy with joy intensifies the sum of sympathy in the world, sympathy with pain does not really diminish the amount of pain.
Good taste is the excuse I have given for leading such a bad life.
Absolute catholicity of taste is not without its dangers. It is only an auctioneer who should admire all schools of art.
Rich bachelors should be heavily taxed. It is not fair that some men should be happier than others.
Cultivated leisure is the aim of man.
The mind of the thoroughly well-informed man is a dreadful thing. It is like a bric-?-brac shop, all monsters and dust, with everything priced above its proper value.
With an evening coat and a white tie, anybody, even a stock broker, can gain a reputation for being civilized.
Nowadays to be intelligible is to be found out.
Private information is practically the source of every large modern fortune.
In the old times men carried out their rights for themselves as they lived, but nowadays every baby seems born with a social manifesto in its mouth much bigger than itself.
To give an accurate description of what has never occurred is not merely the proper occupation of the historian, but the inalienable privilege of any man of parts and culture.
Frank Harris has been received in all the great houses -- once!
Flowers are as common in the country as people are in London.
The American father is never seen in London. He passes his life entirely in Wall Street and communicates with his family once a month by means of a telegram in cipher.
Fashion, by which what is really fantastic becomes for a moment the universal.
Woman's first duty in life is to her dressmaker. What the second duty is no one has yet discovered.
Pardon me, you are not engaged to any one. When you do become engaged to some one, I, or your father, should his health permit him, will inform you of the fact. An engagement should come on a young girl as a surprise, pleasant or unpleasant, as the case may be. It is hardly a matter that she could be allowed to arrange for herself.
What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
On an occasion of this kind it becomes more than a moral duty to speak one's mind. It becomes a pleasure.
Temperament is the primary requisite for the critic -- a temperament exquisitely susceptible to beauty, and to the various impressions that beauty gives us.
That is what the highest criticism really is, the record of one's own soul. It is more fascinating than history, as it is concerned simply with oneself. It is more delightful than philosophy, as its subject is concrete and not abstract, real and not vague. It is the only civilized form of autobiography.
The true critic is he who bears within himself the dreams and ideas and feelings of myriad generations, and to whom no form of thought is alien, no emotional impulse obscure.
He had that curious love of green, which in individuals is always the sign of a subtle artistic temperament, and in nations is said to denote a laxity, if not a decadence of morals.
The exquisite art of idleness, one of the most important things that any University can teach.
In spite of the roaring of the young lions at the Union, and the screaming of the rabbits in the home of the vivisect, in spite of Keble College, and the tramways, and the sporting prints, Oxford still remains the most beautiful thing in England, and nowhere else are life and art so exquisitely blended, so perfectly made one.
Really, if the lower orders don't set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them? They seem, as a class, to have absolutely no sense of moral responsibility.
Civilization is not by any means an easy thing to attain to. There are only two ways by which man can reach it. One is by being cultured, the other by being corrupt.
The cities of America are inexpressibly tedious. The Bostonians take their learning too sadly; culture with them is an accomplishment rather than an atmosphere; their Hub, as they call it, is the paradise of prigs. Chicago is a sort of monster-shop, full of bustles and bores. Political life at Washington is like political life in a suburban vestry. Baltimore is amusing for a week, but Philadelphia is dreadfully provincial; and though one can dine in New York one could not dwell there.
Charity creates a multitude of sins.
It is a dangerous thing to reform anyone.
The fact is, the public make use of the classics of a country as a means of checking the progress of Art. They degrade the classics into authorities. They use them as bludgeons for preventing the free expression of Beauty in new forms.
Formerly we used to canonize our heroes. The modern method is to vulgarize them. Cheap editions of great books may be delightful, but cheap editions of great men are absolutely detestable.
It is only by not paying one's bills that one can hope to live in the memory of the commercial classes.
As for begging, it is safer to beg than to take, but it is finer to take than to beg.
I have found that all ugly things are made by those who strive to make something beautiful, and that all beautiful things are made by those who strive to make something useful.
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.
Nowadays, all the married men live like bachelors, and all the bachelors like married men.
I dislike modern memoirs. They are generally written by people who have either entirely lost their memories, or have never done anything worth remembering.
Art, like Nature, has her monsters, things of bestial shape and with hideous voices.
All art is quite useless.
Bad art is a great deal worse than no art at all.
Modern pictures are, no doubt, delightful to look at. At least, some of them are. But they are quite impossible to live with; they are too clever, too assertive, too intellectual. Their meaning is too obvious, and their method too clearly defined. One
In a very ugly and sensible age, the arts borrow, not from life, but from each other.
You should study the Peerage, Gerald. It is the one book a young man about town should know thoroughly, and it is the best thing in fiction the English have ever done.
He would stab his best friend for the sake of writing an epigram on his tombstone.
There is no country in the world where machinery is so lovely as in America.
I delight in men over seventy. They always offer one the devotion of a lifetime.
No, Ernest, don't talk about action. It is the last resource of those who know not how to dream.
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 love acting. It is so much more real than life.
While we look to the dramatist to give romance to realism, we ask of the actor to give realism to romance.
It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating. (The Model Millionaire, 1912)
Een dichter kan alles overleven, behalve een misdruk.