Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish playwright, poet, and author of numerous short stories, and one novel. Known for his biting wit, and a plentitude of aphorisms, he became one of the most successful playwrights of the late Victorian era in London, and one of the greatest celebrities of his day. Several of his plays continue to be widely performed, especially The Importance of Being Earnest.
As the result of a widely covered series of trials, Wilde suffered a dramatic downfall and was imprisoned for two years hard labour after being convicted of “gross indecency” with other men. After Wilde was released from prison he set sail for Dieppe by the night ferry. He never returned to Ireland or Britain, and died in poverty.
1. Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.
2. Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.
3. To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.
4. I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying.
5. We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
6. If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.
7. It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.
8. The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.
9. The truth is rarely pure and never simple.
10. Yes: I am a dreamer. For 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.
11. You can never be overdressed or overeducated.
12. Never love anyone who treats you like you’re ordinary.
13. Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.
14. A good friend will always stab you in the front.
15. Women are meant to be loved, not to be understood.
16. I don’t want to go to heaven. None of my friends are there.
17. You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit.
18. Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.
19. Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.
20. I am not young enough to know everything.
21. Hearts are made to be broken.
22. A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.
23. Experience is merely the name men gave to their mistakes.
24. You don’t love someone for their looks, or their clothes, or for their fancy car, but because they sing a song only you can hear.
25. Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power.
26. The very essence of romance is uncertainty.
27. Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.
28. Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty. There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.
29. I think God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability.
30. I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.
31. 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 tomorrow. To forget time, to forgive life, to be at peace.
32. With freedom, flowers, books, and the moon, who could not be perfectly happy?
33. Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.
34. To define is to limit.
35. Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.
36. I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.
37. A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.
38. I can resist anything except temptation.
39. Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.
40. All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does, and that is his.
41. The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.
42. It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.
43. To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.
44. Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit.
45. There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.
46. Who, being loved, is poor?
47. I am too fond of reading books to care to write them.
48. Crying is for plain women. Pretty women go shopping.
49. I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.
50. Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.
51. Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.
52. Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.
53. I have nothing to declare except my genius.
54. A man’s face is his autobiography. A woman’s face is her work of fiction.”
55. We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.
56. Anybody can sympathise with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathise with a friend’s success.
57. Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.
58. When one is in love, one always begins by deceiving one’s self, and one always ends by deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance.
59. Whenever people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong.
60. No good deed goes unpunished.