The Delicious wit and sarcasm of Oscar Wilde
As the saying goes, often more truth than poetry.
It's the truth that makes the wit sarcasm;
it's the paradox that creates the truth,
and all of that is what makes it Art.
Wilde isn't remembered because he was funny;
he's remembered because he was a genius and artist.
The Importance of Being Ernest is only arguably the
most perfect play written in modern English,
the Mendelssohn violin concerto of the theatre.

   Oscar Wilde (1854-1900):

          "I assure you that the typewriting machine, when played with
	   expression, is not more annoying than the piano when played
	   by a sister or near relation."

          "Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to
           alter it every six months."
          "A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies."
           As he sipped champagne on his deathbed:
          "Alas, I am dying beyond my means."
          "I am not young enough to know everything."
          "I think that God in creating Man somewhat overestimated his
          "It is a very sad thing that nowadays there is so little
           useless information."
          "Seriousness is the only refuge of the shallow."
          "Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone
           else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a
          "There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books
           are well written or badly written."
          "The basis for optimism is sheer terror."
          "It is better to have a permanent income than to be
          "Whenever people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong."
          "Why was I born with such contemporaries?"
          "Only the shallow know themselves."
          "The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple."
          "The difference between literature and journalism is that
           journalism is unreadable and literature is not read."
          "Biography lends to death a new terror."
          "I love acting. It is so much more real than life."
          "In all matters of opinion, our adversaries are insane."
          "Perhaps, after all, America never has been discovered. I
           myself would say that it had merely been detected."
          "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."
          "Music makes one feel so romantic - at least it always gets on
           one's nerves - which is the same thing nowadays."
          "Illusion is the first of all pleasures."
          "The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything
           except genius."
          "One can survive everything, nowadays, except death, and live
           down everything except a good reputation."
          "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being
           talked about."
          "Life is too important to be taken seriously."
          "The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple."
          "Whenever people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong."
          "Experience is one thing you can't get for nothing."
          "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."
          "Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess."
          "Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes."
          "We're all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the
          "Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking
           others to live as one wishes to live."
          "In the world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting
           what one wants, and the other is getting it."
          "To be natural is such a very difficult pose to keep up."
          "I am not young enough to know everything."
          "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."
          "Its failings notwithstanding, there is much to be said in
           favor of journalism in that by giving us the opinion of the
           uneducated, it keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the
          "Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious."
          "Man is a rational animal who always loses his temper when he
           is called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of
          "My great mistake, the fault for which I can't forgive myself,
           is that one day I ceased my obstinate pursuit of my own
          "The English country gentleman galloping after a fox -- the
           unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable."
          "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."
          "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."
          "The basis for optimism is sheer terror."
          "Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the
           people for the people."
          "A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it."
          "Action is the last refuge of those who cannot dream."
          "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 willing to die for an ideal is to set a rather high
            price on conjecture." (?)
          Oscar Wilde: "I wish I had said that." Whistler: "You will,
          Oscar; you will."
          " simply the name we give our mistakes."
          "Simple pleasures are the last refuge of the complex."
          "To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance."
          "Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense,
           and discover when it is too late that the only things one never
           regrets are one's mistakes."
          "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."
          "Paradoxically though it may seem, it is none the less true
           that life imitates art far more than art imitates life."
          "Ordinary riches can be stolen, real riches cannot. In your
           soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from
          "We teach people how to remember, we never teach them how to
A Small Netography
  1. FireBlade Coffeehouse: Oscar Wilde
  2. Poetry of Oscar Wilde, full-text; Oscar Wilde's poetry, at
  3. Wilde: The Decay of Lying; Pen Pencil and Poison, The Artist as Critic; The truth of Masks
  4. De Profundis by Oscar Wilde
  5. The Happy Prince and Other Tales by Oscar Wilde
  6. Oscar Wilde books biography forum pictures or portrait
  7. Oscar Wilde - MasterTexts(TM)
  8. Oscar Wilde - Ode an ein Genie
  9. Reading Wilde, Querying Spaces: An Exhibition Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Trials of Oscar Wilde
  10. Clark library: photographs of Wilde from childhood to death

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Created: May 4, 1998
Last Updated: May 28, 2000
Last Updated: June 14, 2003
Last Updated: September 3, 2004