Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The wit of Oscar Wilde

Feeling the need for an Oscar Wilde break...

I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.

Be warned in time, James, and remain, as I do, incomprehensible: to be great is to be misunderstood.

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

Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.

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.

A simile committing suicide is always a depressing spectacle.

Art finds her own perfection within, and not outside of herself. She is not to be judged by any external standard of resemblance. She is a veil, rather than a mirror.

He is really not so ugly after all, provided, of course, that one shuts one's eyes, and does not look at him.

le mystère de l'amour est plus grand que le mystère de la mort.
The mystery of love is greater than the mystery of death.

Hard work is simply the refuge of people who have nothing whatever to do.

Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life.

Art persists, it timelessly continues.

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

I am but too conscious of the fact that we are born in an age when only the dull are treated seriously, and I live in terror of not being misunderstood.

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.

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 lack of imaginative thought, and a certain low passion for middle-class respectability.

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

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

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

What a pity that in life we only get our lessons when they are of no use to us.

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

Kelvil: May I ask, Lord Illingworth, if you regard the House of Lords as a better institution than the House of Commons?
Lord Illingworth: A much better institution of course. We in the House of Lords are never in touch with public opinion. That makes us a civilised body.

Lord Illingworth: The Book of Life begins with a man and a woman in a garden.
Mrs. Allonby: It ends with Revelations.

Men marry because they are tired; women because they are curious. Both are disappointed.

I am always astonishing myself. It is the only thing that makes life worth living.

The English are always degrading truths into facts. When a truth becomes a fact it loses all its intellectual value.

To be really mediæval one should have no body. To be really modern one should have no soul. To be really Greek one should have no clothes.

The only thing that can console one for being poor is extravagance. The only thing that can console one for being rich is economy.

If one tells the truth, one is sure, sooner or later, to be found out.

One should always be a little improbable.

The only way to atone for being occasionally a little over-dressed is by being always absolutely over-educated.

The amount of women in London who flirt with their own husbands is perfectly scandalous.

My dear fellow, the truth isn't quite the sort of thing one tells to a nice, sweet, refined girl.

Ah! That must be Aunt Augusta. Only relatives, or creditors, ever ring in that Wagnerian manner.

I have invented an invaluable permanent invalid called Bunbury, in order that I may be able to go down into the country whenever I choose.

It is absurd to have a hard and fast rule about what one should read and what one shouldn't. More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn't read.

Relations are simply a tedious pack of people, who haven’t got the remotest knowledge of how to live, nor the smallest instinct about when to die.

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.

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.

Well, I can't eat muffins in an agitated manner. The butter would probably get on my cuffs. One must eat muffins quite calmly, it is the only way to eat them.

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.

Oh, I love London society! It is entirely composed now of beautiful idiots and brilliant lunatics. Just what society should be.

Science can never grapple with the irrational. That is why it has no future before it, in this world.

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

Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast.

All sins, except a sin against itself, Love should forgive. All lives, save loveless lives, true Love should pardon.

Lord Caversham: No woman, plain or pretty, has any common sense at all, sir. Common sense is the privilege of our sex.
Lord Goring: Quite so. And we men are so self-sacrificing that we never use it, do we, father?

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

High hopes were once formed of democracy; but democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people.

Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.

The fact is, that civilisation requires slaves. The Greeks were quite right there. Unless there are slaves to do the ugly, horrible, uninteresting work, culture and contemplation become almost impossible. Human slavery is wrong, insecure, and demoralizing. On mechanical slavery, on the slavery of the machine, the future of the world depends.

Closed eyes listen, afraid to see on their own. Easily influenced and simply conformed.

Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.

Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

And all, but Lust, is turned to dust
In Humanity's machine.

A thing is, according to the mode in which one looks at it.

We are the zanies of sorrow. We are clowns whose hearts are broken.

Where there is sorrow there is holy ground.
And alien tears will fill for him
Pity's long-broken urn,
For his mourners will be outcast men,
And outcasts always mourn.

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