Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Oscar Wilde, pen name for Fingal O'Flahertie Wills

Irish Writer, Poet, Playwright and Aesthete remembered for his Epigrams, Plays and Sardonic Faustian themed "The Picture of Dorian Gray", Flamboyant Lifestyle, Tragedy of his Imprisonment followed by his early death

"A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal."

"A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing. And when Humanity lands there, it looks out, and seeing a better country, sets sail. Progress is the realization of Utopias."

"Faithfulness is to the emotional life what consistency is to the life of the intellectual - simply a confession of failures."

"Dullness is the coming age of seriousness."

"A mask tells us more than a face."

"Ethics, like natural selection, make existence possible. Aesthetics, like sexual selection, make life lovely and wonderful, fill it with new forms, and give it progress, and variety and change."

"Discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation."

"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."

"He to whom the present is the only thing that is present, knows nothing of the age in which he lives."

"Life is not fair, and it is a good thing for most of us that it is not."

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

"He was always late on principle, his principle being that punctuality is the thief of time."

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

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

"The only difference between a saint and a sinner is that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future."

"Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation."

"Seriousness is the only refuge of the shallow."

"Only the shallow know themselves."

"The only beautiful things are the things that do not concern us."

"The terror of society, which is the basis of morals, the terror of God, which is the secret of religion - these are the two things that govern us."

"The final mystery is oneself... Who can calculate the orbit of his own soul?"

"The secret of life is never have an emotion that is unbecoming."

"There is luxury in self-reproach. When we blame ourselves we feel no one else has the right to blame us."

"There is no such thing as good influence. All influence is immoral - immoral from the scientific point of view."

"There is no sin except stupidity."

"An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all."

"Children begin by loving their parents. After a time they judge them. Rarely if ever, do they forgive them."

"To love one's self is the beginning of a life-long romance."

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

"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 not less than a denial of the soul."

"A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies."

"Action is the last resource of those who know not how to dream."

"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."

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

"All authority is quite degrading. It degrades those who exercise it, and it degrades those over whom it is exercised."

"Experience is one thing you can't get for nothing."

"I believe that at the beginning God made a world for each separate man, and in that world which is within us one should seek to live."

"Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative."

"Circumstances should never alter principles."

"In life as in art the mood of rebellion closes up the channels of the soul, and shuts out the airs of heaven."

"I took pleasure where it pleased me, and passed on. I forgot that every little action of the common day makes or unmakes character… I allowed pleasure to dominate me. I ended in horrible disgrace."

"If the world has indeed been built of sorrow, it has been built by the hands of love, because in no other way could the soul of man, for whom the world was made, reach the full stature of its perfection. Pleasure for the beautiful body, but pain for the beautiful soul."

"I am not young enough to know everything."

"It is personalities, not principles, that move the age."

"It is so easy to convert others. It is so difficult to convert oneself."

"Life is too important to be taken seriously."

"Misfortunes one can endure – they come from outside, they are accidents. But to suffer for one’s faults – ah! – there is the sting of life."

"Nothing makes one so vain as a being told that one is a sinner."

"Nothing in the whole world is meaningless, and suffering least of all. That something hidden away in my nature, like a treasure in a field, is humility. It is the last thing left in me, and the best: the ultimate discovery at which I have arrived, the starting point for a fresh development."

"Modern morality consists in accepting the standard of one’s age. I consider that for any man of culture to accept the standard of his age is a form of the grossest immorality."