Oscar Wilde quotes

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Oscar Wilde

Birthdate: 16. October 1854
Date of death: 30. November 1900

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish poet and playwright. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, the early 1890s saw him become one of the most popular playwrights in London. He is best remembered for his epigrams and plays, his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, and the circumstances of his criminal conviction for "gross indecency", imprisonment, and early death at age 46.

Wilde's parents were successful Anglo-Irish intellectuals in Dublin. A young Wilde learned to speak fluent French and German. At university, Wilde read Greats; he demonstrated himself to be an exceptional classicist, first at Trinity College Dublin, then at Oxford. He became associated with the emerging philosophy of aestheticism, led by two of his tutors, Walter Pater and John Ruskin. After university, Wilde moved to London into fashionable cultural and social circles.

As a spokesman for aestheticism, he tried his hand at various literary activities: he published a book of poems, lectured in the United States and Canada on the new "English Renaissance in Art" and interior decoration, and then returned to London where he worked prolifically as a journalist. Known for his biting wit, flamboyant dress and glittering conversational skill, Wilde became one of the best-known personalities of his day. At the turn of the 1890s, he refined his ideas about the supremacy of art in a series of dialogues and essays, and incorporated themes of decadence, duplicity, and beauty into what would be his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray . The opportunity to construct aesthetic details precisely, and combine them with larger social themes, drew Wilde to write drama. He wrote Salome in French while in Paris but it was refused a licence for England due to an absolute prohibition on the portrayal of Biblical subjects on the English stage. Unperturbed, Wilde produced four society comedies in the early 1890s, which made him one of the most successful playwrights of late-Victorian London.

At the height of his fame and success, while The Importance of Being Earnest was still being performed in London, Wilde had the Marquess of Queensberry prosecuted for criminal libel. The Marquess was the father of Wilde's lover, Lord Alfred Douglas. The libel trial unearthed evidence that caused Wilde to drop his charges and led to his own arrest and trial for gross indecency with men. After two more trials he was convicted and sentenced to two years' hard labour, the maximum penalty, and was jailed from 1895 to 1897. During his last year in prison, he wrote De Profundis , a long letter which discusses his spiritual journey through his trials, forming a dark counterpoint to his earlier philosophy of pleasure. On his release, he left immediately for France, never to return to Ireland or Britain. There he wrote his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol , a long poem commemorating the harsh rhythms of prison life.

Works

„Be Yourself. Everyone Else Is Already Taken.“

—  Oscar Wilde

Anonymous advertising copywriter for Menards chain of hardware stores (2000), according to Quote Investigator http://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/01/20/be-yourself
Misattributed

„Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.“

—  Oscar Wilde

Variant: Always forgive your enemies — nothing annoys them so much.

„To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.“

—  Oscar Wilde, book The Soul of Man under Socialism

The Soul of Man Under Socialism (1891)
Context: 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.

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„The truth is rarely pure and never simple.“

—  Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

Source: The Importance of Being Earnest (1895)
Context: Jack: That, my dear Algy, is the whole truth pure and simple.
Algernon: The truth is rarely pure and never simple. Modern life would be very tedious if it were either, and modern literature a complete impossibility!

Act I
Often quoted as "The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple."

„A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.“

—  Oscar Wilde

Variant: A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.
Source: The Critic as Artist (1891), Part II

„I don't want to go to heaven. None of my friends are there“

—  Oscar Wilde

No known source in Oscar Wilde's works. Earliest known example of a similar quote comes from a 2001 usenet post https://groups.google.com/forum/message/raw?msg=alt.atheism/ZadPWBw-wew/G_3tx370wpoJ (not attributed to Wilde)
Attributed to Wilde on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/15736-i-don-t-want-to-go-to-heaven-none-of-my?page=83 some time on or before January 2008.
Bears some resemblance to Machiavelli's deathbed dream https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Niccol%C3%B2_Machiavelli#Disputed.
Disputed

„Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.“

—  Oscar Wilde

Variant: Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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