But If Not
Home Authors Topics Titles Videos    

Oscar Wilde

Who, being loved, is poor?

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 too careful in the choice of his enemies.

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

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.

All that I desire to point out is the general principle that life imitates art far more than art imitates life.

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 sympathise with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathise with a friend's success.

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

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.

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.

Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.

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

Consistency is the last resort of the unimaginative.

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

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

Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people.

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

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.

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.

Genius is born--not paid.

Hatred is blind, as well as love.

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 realise.

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.

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.

I adore simple pleasures. They are the last refuge of the complex.

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

I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself.

I am not young enough to know everything.

I can believe anything, provided that it is quite incredible.

I can resist anything but temptation.

I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their intellects. A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies.

I dislike arguments of any kind. They are always vulgar, and often convincing.

I have nothing to declare except my genuis.

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

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 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 sometimes think that God in creating man somewhat overestimated his ability.

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 suppose that I shall have to die beyond my means.

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.

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 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.

If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.

Illusion is the first of all pleasures.

In all matters of opinion, our adversaries are insane.

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.

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 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 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 realise our perfection.

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 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.

Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.

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

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.

Most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.

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 than calmness.

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

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

One can always be kind to people about whom one cares nothing.

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

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.

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 should absorb the colour of life, but one should never remember its details. Details are always vulgar.

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's past is what one is. It is the only way by which people should be judged.

One's real life is often the life that one does not lead.

Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast.

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.

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.

Scandal is gossip made tedious by morality.

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 advantage of the emotions is that they lead us astray, and the advantage of science is that it is not emotional.

The aim of life is self-development. To realize one's nature perfectly - that is what each of us is here for.

The cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

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

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

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

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 about marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties.

The only thing that sustains one through life is the consciousness of the immense inferiority of everybody else, and this is a feeling that I have always cultivated.

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

The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself.

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

The secret of life is to appreciate the pleasure of being terribly, terribly deceived.

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 truth is rarely pure and never simple.

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

The world is divided into two classes, those who believe the incredible, and those who do the improbable.

There are many things that we would throw away if we were not afraid that others might pick them up.

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 is a luxury in self-reproach. When we blame ourselves, we feel that no one else has a right to blame us. It is the confession, not the priest, that gives us absolution.

There is no sin except stupidity.

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

Thirty-five is a very attractive age. London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirty-five for years.

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

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.

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

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.

True friends stab you in the front.

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

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

We live in an age when unnecessary things are our only necessities.

We teach people how to remember, we never teach them how to grow.

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

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

Whenever a man does a thoroughly stupid thing, it is always from the noblest motives.

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

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 love us for our defects. If we have enough of them, they will forgive us everything, even our intellects.

Work is the curse of the drinkingclasses.

Quotes by Oscar Wilde

 
spacer