Looking Back at: Quotes by Oscar Wilde

How do I even begin to explain Oscar Wilde?

Well, he was born Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde on October 16, 1854 in Dublin, Ireland to Anglo-Irish intellectuals, and studied at Trinity College, Dublin and Magdalen College, Oxford, where he became interested in aestheticism. He wrote successful society plays such as The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), as well as the controversial Salome (1891), and also worked as a journalist and lecturer on the new “English Renaissance in Art”. His only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890), was subject to unwanted censorship due to its then-greatly-controversial thematic elements. He was married to Constance Lloyd – with whom he had two children and later became estranged – and had a long-lasting relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas, whose father was sued for libel by Wilde himself. The ensuing trial unearthed evidence that caused Wilde to be arrested for gross indecency with other men and imprisoned for two years’ hard labour. After his release, he moved to France, never to return to either Ireland or Britain. His last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898), was a dark exploration of prison life. On November 30, 1900, at age 46, he died destitute – like several artists before him – in Paris, also because Lloyd refused to help him financially if he didn’t interrupt his relationship with Douglas. Wilde also became one of the best-known figures of his time also thanks to his flamboyant fashion sense and biting wit, which unquestionably made him one of the most endlessly quotable authors of all time. So, let’s run down some of his great, interesting, quirky, witty quotes:

  • “When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is”

  • “Our ambition should be to rule ourselves, the true kingdom for each one of us; and true progress is to know more, and be more, and to do more”

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

  • “Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known”

  • “Work is the curse of the drinking classes”

  • “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance”

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

  • “In America the President reigns for four years, and journalism governs forever and ever”

  • “Pessimist: One who, when he has the choice of two evils, chooses both”

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

  • “There is only one class in the community that thinks more about money than the rich, and that is the poor. The poor can think of nothing else”

  • “A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it”

  • “Biography lends to death a new terror”

  • “In modern life nothing produces such an effect as a good platitude. It makes the whole world kin”

  • “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken”

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

  • “The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what is worth knowing”

  • “How many men there are in modern life who would like to see their past burning to white ashes before them!”

  • “The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame”

We can end by saying that unlike “fetch”, Oscar Wilde did happen…

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4 thoughts on “Looking Back at: Quotes by Oscar Wilde

  1. Pingback: Travel: The Charms of Half a Day in London | The Blog

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