Oscar Wilde Quotes

Oscar Wilde

Irish dramatist, novelist, & poet (1854 - 1900)

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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.

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One should never trust a woman who tells one her real age. A woman who would tell one that, would tell one anything.

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Show respect for age. Drink good scotch for a change. The old believe everything: the middle-aged suspect everything: the young know everything.

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Ambition is the last refuge of the failure.

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America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.

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It is only an auctioneer who can equally and impartially admire all schools of art.

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A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament.

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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.

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No object is so beautiful that, under certain conditions, it will not look ugly.

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I don't desire to change anything in England except the weather.

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Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.

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A Cynic is one who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

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Ambition is the last refuge of the failure.

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To do nothing at all is the most difficult thing in the world, the most difficult and the most intellectual.

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The old believe everything; the middle-aged suspect everything; the young know everything.

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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.

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When a man has once loved a woman he will do anything for her except continue to love her.

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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!

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

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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.

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How marriage ruins a man! It is as demoralizing as cigarettes, and far more expensive.

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Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.

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Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious.

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Only the shallow know themselves.

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Simple pleasures are the last refuge of the complex.

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

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I suppose society is wonderfully delightful. To be in it is merely a bore. But to be out of it is simply a tragedy.

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Moderation is a fatal thing nothing succeeds like excess.

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Ambition is the last refuge of failure.

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Experience is the name that everyone gives to his mistakes.

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There is nothing in the world like the devotion of a married woman. It is a thing no married man knows anything about.

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Women are made to be loved, not understood.

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

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Perhaps, after all, America never has been discovered. I myself would say that it had merely been detected.

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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.

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Man can believe the impossible, but man can never believe the improbable.

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Illusion is the first of all pleasures.

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The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius.

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

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... Nature, whose sweet rains fall of just and unjust alike, will have clefts in the rocks where I may hide, and secret valleys in whose silence I may weep undetected. She will hang the night with stars so that I may walk abroad in the darkness without stumbling, and send the wind over my footprints so that none may track me to my hurt: she will cleanse me in great waters, and with bitter herbs make me whole.

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Man is a rational animal who always loses his temper when he is called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason.

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There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written.

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I sometimes think that God, in creating man, overestimated His ability.

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Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.

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Seriousness is the only refuge of the shallow.

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

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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.

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The fact is, that civilization 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.

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The basis for optimism is sheer terror.

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

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Alas, I am dying beyond my means.

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

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Action is the last refuge of those who cannot dream.

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Only the shallow know themselves.

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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.

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The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.

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Oscar Wilde: "I wish I had said that." Whistler: "You will, Oscar; you will.

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Experience...is simply the name we give our mistakes.

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Simple pleasures are the last refuge of the complex.

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To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.

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Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live. It is asking other people to live as one wishes to live.

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It is an odd thing, but everyone who disappears is said to be seen at San Francisco. It must be a delightful city, and possess all the attractions of the next world.

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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.

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

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It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating.

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I must decline your invitation owing to a subsequent engagement.

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The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.

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Philosophy teaches us to bear with equanimity the misfortunes of others.

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Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast.

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Bigamy is having one wife too many. Monogamy is the same

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

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The basis of optimism is sheer terror.

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The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.

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Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.

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Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.

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The only possible form of exercise is to talk, not to walk.

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Journalism justifies its own existence by the great Darwinian principle of the survival of the vulgarist.

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Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.

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Anybody can be good in the country. There are no temptations there.

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It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.

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Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about.

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

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I am not young enough to know everything.

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Always forgive your enemies - nothing annoys them so much.

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Everyone who is incapable of learning has taken to teaching.

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To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.

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Philanthropy is the refuge of rich people who wish to annoy their fellow creatures.

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Romance should never begin with sentiment. It should begin with science and end with a settlement.

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Religion is the fashionable substitute for belief.

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Rich bachelors should be heavily taxed. It is not fair that some men should be happier than others.

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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.

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Missionaries are going to reform the world whether it wants to or not.

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Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account.

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Bore: a man who is never unintentionally rude.

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Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.

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

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It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances.

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Alas, I am dying beyond my means.

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Scandal is gossip made tedious by morality.

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Conscience and cowardice are really the same thing. Conscience is the trade-name of the firm.

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The advantage of the emotions is that they lead us astray.

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

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The only charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception necessary for both parties.

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

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I suppose that I shall have to die beyond my means.

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One should always be in love. That is the reason one should never marry.

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Henry James writes fiction as if it were a painful duty.

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

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Divorces are made in heaven.

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

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What people call insincerity is simply a method by which we can multiply our personalities.

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

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America has been discovered before, but it has always been hushed up.

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Morality is simply the attitude we adopt toward people we personally dislike.

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Man is a rational animal who always loses his temper when he is called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason.

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There are two ways of disliking poetry; one way is to dislike it, the other is to read Pope.

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Pessimist: One who, when he has the choice of two evils, chooses both.

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All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling.

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

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Democracy is the bludgeoning of the people, by the people, for the people.

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It is better to be beautiful than to be good, but it is better to be good than to be ugly.

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It is the confession, not the priest, that gives us absolution.

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Popularity is the one insult I have never suffered.

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

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Society produces rogues, and education makes one rogue cleverer than another.

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Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone.

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Nothing is so aggravating as calmness.

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The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.

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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.

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

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One must have a heart of stone to read the death of Little Nell without laughing.

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Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.

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Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast.

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Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.

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It is only an auctioneer who can equally and impartially admire all schools of art.

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

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To disagree with three-fourths of the British public is one of the first requisites of sanity.

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

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Arguments are to be avoided; they are always vulgar and often convincing.

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

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Work is the curse of the drinking class.

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Vile deeds like poison weeds bloom well in prison air, it is only what is good in man, that wastes and withers there.

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I have nothing to declare but my genius.

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And the wild regrets, and the bloody sweats,
None knew so well as I:
For he who lives more lives than one
More deaths than one must die.

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Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.

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

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It is only about things that do not interest one that one can give really unbiased opinions, which is no doubt the reason why an unbiased opinion is always valueless.

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We can forgive a man for making a useful thing, as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely. All art is quite useless.

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A well-tied tie is the first serious step in life.

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When we are happy we are always good, but when we are good we are not always happy.

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All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their own peril. Those who read the symbol do so at their own peril.

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It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.

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All art is quite useless.

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Dreamers can find their way by moonlight and their only punishment is that they see the dawn before the rest of the world.

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America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.

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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.

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

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

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Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.

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

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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.

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The mystery of love is greater than the mystery of death.

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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.

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

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

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The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.

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

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

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Work is the curse of the drinking classes.

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

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I like persons better than principles, and I like persons with no principles better than anything else in the world.

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

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

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

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Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious.

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The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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Sometimes it takes courage to give into temptation.

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Science is the record of dead religions.

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Life imitates art more than art imitates life.

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There is no sin except stupidity.

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Eduaction is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.

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The proper basis for marriage is a mutual misunderstanding.

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

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Imagination is a quality given to man to compensate for what he is not, and a sense of humaor is provided to console him from what he is.

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My wallpaper and i are fighting a duel to death. One or the other has to go.

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When critics disagree the artist is in accord with himself.

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Being natural is simply a pose.

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Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul.

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Sin is the only real colour element left in modern life.

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Morality, like art, means drawing a line someplace.

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One should always play fairly when one has the winning cards.

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America had often been discovered before Columbus, but it had always been hushed up.

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

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Education is an admirable thing, but it is well worth remembering from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.

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I am not young enough to know everything.

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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.

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A man can be happy with any woman as long as he does not love her.

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

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

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The very essence of love is uncertainty.

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People who count their chickens before they are hatched, act very wisely, because chickens run about so absurdly that it is impossible to count them accurately.

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It often happens that the real tragedies in life occur in such an inarticulate manner that they hurt one by their crude violence, their absolute incoherence, their absurd want of meaning, their entire lack of style.

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The only excuse for creating something useless is that one admires it intensely.

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The stage is not merely the meeting place of all the arts, but is also the return of art to life.

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About foxhunting: The unspeakable chasing the uneatable.

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One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art.

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Like dear St. Francis of Assisi I am wedded to Poverty: but in my case the marriage is not a success.

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To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.

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

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We are not sent into the world to air our moral prejudices.

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The strength of women comes from the fact that psychology cannot explain us. Men can be analyzed, women

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All art is quite useless.

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A cigarette is the perfect type of a perfect pleasure. It is exquisite, and it leaves one unsatisfied. What more can one want?

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I think that God in creating Man somewhat overestimated his ability.

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When one is in town one amuses oneself. When one is in the country one amuses other people. It is excessively boring.

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We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely. All art is quite useless.

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Beauty is the wonder of wonders. It is only the shallow people who do not judge by appearances.

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There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.

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I love hearing my relations abused. It is the only thing that makes me put up with them at all.

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Wisdom comes with winters.

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

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

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

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Arguments are to be avoided; they are always vulgar and often convincing.

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At twilight, nature is not without loveliness, though perhaps its chief use is to illustrate quotations from the poets.

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Chastity is the greatest form of perversion.

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...my dear boy, no woman is a genius. They are a decorative sex. They never have anything to say, but they say it charmingly. Women represent the triumph of matter over mind, just as men represent the triumph of mind over morals.

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The problem with the common person is that he is so unbearably common!

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A grand passion is the privelege of people who have nothing to do.

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Life is too important to be taken seriously.

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All art is quite useless.

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She is a peacock in everything but beauty.

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Punctuality is the thief of time.

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Genius is born--not paid.

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Laughter is not at all a bad beginning for a friendship; and it is by far the best ending for one.

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There are only two kinds of people who are really fascinating: people who know absolutely everything, and people who know absolutely nothing.

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There is always something ridiculous about the emotions of people whom one has ceased to love.

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People are very fond of giving away what they need most themselves. It is what I call the depth of generosity.

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Knowledge would be fatal, it is the uncertainty that charms one. A mist makes things beautiful.

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It is a very sad thing that nowadays there is so little useless information.

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He has never written a single book, so you can imagine how much he knows.

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

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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.

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Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.

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Live the wonderful life that is in you.

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Success is a science; if you have the conditions, you get the result.

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Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.

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Philanthropic people lose all sense of Humanity, it is their distinguishing characteristic.

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The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.

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

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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.

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Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.

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Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.

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

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To be natural is such a very difficult pose to keep up.

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Only the shallow know themselves.

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Seriousness is the only refuge of the shallow.

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I am not young enough to know everything.

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Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.

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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.

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Seriousness is the only refuge of the shallow.

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Paradoxically though it may seem, it is none the less true that life imitates art far more than art imitates life.

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There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written.

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The basis of optimism is sheer terror.

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It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating.

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

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Why was I born with such contemporaries?

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Only the shallow know themselves.

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The truth is rarely pure and never simple.

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As long as war is regarded as wicked it will always have its fascinations. When it is looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular.

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Ordinary riches can be stolen, real riches cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you.

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But what is the difference between literature and journalism?
...Journalism is unreadable and literature is not read. That is all.

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Biography lends to death a new terror.

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

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