One of the luminaries of Victorian
England was Oscar Wilde, poet, writer, dramatist, bon-vivant,
and ex-convict. Wilde was celebrated for his biting wit, usually
expressed in elegantly brutal observations of life around him.
And he became a celebrity wit without the benefit of HBO or a
late-night talk show. Here are some of his more famous bon mots:
Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to
alter it every six months.
Men always want to be a woman’s first love. Women have
a more subtle instinct. They like to be a man’s last
No man is rich enough to buy back his past.
The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show
the world (its) own shame.
Who, being loved, is poor?
The true perfection of man lies not in what man has, but in
what man is. Nothing should be able to harm a man but himself.
should be able to rob a man at all. What a man really has is
what is in him. What is outside of him should be a matter of
A man can’t be too careful in the choice of his enemies.
The well-bred contradict other people. The wise contradict
Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people, by the
people, for the people.
I can believe anything, provided it is incredible.
I sometimes think that God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated
When a woman marries again, it is because she detested her
first husband. When a man marries again, it is because he adored
first wife. Women try their luck; men risk theirs.
My experience is that as soon as people are old enough to know
better, they don’t know anything at all.
The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that
every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.
Skepticism is the beginning of faith.
Never speak disrespectfully of society, only people who can’t
get into it do that.
Lots of people act well, but few people talk well. This shows
that talking is the more difficult of the two.
Wickedness is a myth invented by good people to account for
the curious attraction of others.
Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s
opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.
Every great man has his disciples, and it is always Judas who
writes the biography.
Laughter is not at all a bad beginning for a friendship, and
it is far the best ending for one.
Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they
Only great masters of style can succeed in being obtuse.
There are people who say I have never really done anything
wrong in my life; of course, they only say it behind my back.
Plain women are always jealous of their husbands. Beautiful
women never are. They are always so occupied with being jealous
other women’s husbands.