- Birthday, Books, Quotes, Reading, Writing

Oscar Wilde on Art, Astonishment, Disobedience, and More


Happy birthday, Oscar Wilde! Here are some quotes from the writer.


“[A]ll sentences are sentences of death.”


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


“I don’t at all like knowing what people say of me behind my back. It makes me far too conceited.”


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


“Only the shallow know themselves.”


“In old days, books were written by men of letters and read by the public. Nowadays, books are written by the public and read by nobody.”


“Nothing succeeds like excess.”


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


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


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


“All art is immoral.”


“Art is the only serious thing in the world. And the artist is the only person who is never serious.”


“It is through art, and through art only, that we can realize our perfection; through art and art only that we can shield ourselves from the sordid perils of actual existence.”


“Art is Individualism, and Individualism is a disturbing and disintegrating force. Therein lies its immense value. For what it seeks to disturb is monotony of type, slavery of custom, tyranny of habit, and the reduction of man to the level of a machine.”


“A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament. Its beauty comes from the fact that the author is what he is. It has nothing to do with the fact that other people want what they want. Indeed, the moment that an artist takes notice of what other people want, and tries to supply the demand, he ceases to be an artist, and becomes a dull or an amusing craftsman, an honest or a dishonest tradesman. He has no further claim to be considered as an artist.”


“No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist.”


“They are always asking a writer why he does not write like somebody else, or a painter why he does not paint like somebody else, quite oblivious of the fact that if either of them did anything of the kind he would cease to be an artist.”


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


“Public Opinion…is an attempt to organize the ignorance of the community, and to elevate it to the dignity of physical force.”


“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.”


“Oh! journalism is unreadable, and literature is not read.”


“It is always the unreadable that occurs.”


“Experience, the name men give to their mistakes.”


“Life is much too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it.”


“Starvation, and not sin, is the parent of modern crime.”


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


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


“I summed up all systems in a phrase, and all existence in an epigram.”


“For a sentimentalist is simply one who desires to have the luxury of an emotion without paying for it.”


“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”


“One should always be a little improbable.”


“Time is a waste of money.”


“Patriotism is the vice of nations.”


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


“I can resist everything except temptation.”


“A man who does not think for himself does not think at all.”


“There are three kinds of despots. There is the despot who tyrannizes over the body. There is the despot who tyrannizes over the soul. There is the despot who tyrannizes over the soul and body alike. The first is called the Prince. The second is called the Pope. The third is called the People.”


“With the abolition of private property, then, we shall have true, beautiful, healthy Individualism. Nobody will waste his life in accumulating things, and the symbols for things. One will live. To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”


“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.”


“There is no sin except stupidity.”


“The one duty we owe to history is to rewrite it.”


“Indifference is the revenge the world takes on mediocrities.”


“There are few things easier than to live badly and to die well.”


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


“One can survive everything nowadays except death.”


“I put all my genius into my life; I put only my talent into my works.”


“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 poet can survive everything but a misprint.”


“Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.”


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


Leave a Reply