No one could turn a phrase like Oscar Wilde, but I think the truth in Wilde’s remarks is often overlooked because of how witty he made them.
Though he was known primarily for his wit, Wilde had a dramatic and difficult life, perpetually running afoul of society’s values, giving him some poignant things to say about humankind. It’s easy to have a quick laugh at an Oscar Wilde quip without recognizing the profound statement he is really making about human beings and their values.
The following are more than just snarky comments. Laugh, but don’t forget to think too.
1. Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.
2. All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.
3. What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing.
4. A true friend stabs you in the front.
5. I am the only person in the world I should like to know thoroughly.
6. I like persons better than principles, and I like persons with no principles better than anything else in the world.
7. A man who does not think for himself does not think at all.
8. Children begin by loving their parents; after a time they judge them; rarely, if ever, do they forgive them.
9. 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.
10. America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.
11. I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself.
12. All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling.
13. Ah! Don’t say that you agree with me. When people agree with me I always feel that I must be wrong.
14. Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.
15. Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.
16. I see when men love women, they give them but a little of their lives. But women when they love give everything.
17. There is something terribly morbid in the modern sympathy with pain. One should sympathise with the colour, the beauty, the joy of life. The less said about life’s sores the better.
18. Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.
19. Society exists only as a mental concept; in the real world there are only individuals.
20. By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, journalism keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.
21. Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike.
22. There is no sin except stupidity.
23. The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.
24. The man who can dominate a London dinner-table can dominate the world.
25. One should always be in love. That is the reason one should never marry.
26. There is always something ridiculous about the emotions of people whom one has ceased to love.
27. One of the many lessons that one learns in prison is that things are what they are and will be what they will be.
28. Life is never fair, and perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not.
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