Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty. There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.
I don't want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.
There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.
When one is in love, one always begins by deceiving one's self, and one always ends by deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance.
Never marry at all, Dorian. Men marry because they are tired, women, because they are curious: both are disappointed.
What of Art? -It is a malady. --Love? -An Illusion. --Religion? -The fashionable substitute for Belief. --You are a sceptic. -Never! Scepticism is the beginning of Faith. --What are you? -To define is to limit.
Humanity takes itself too seriously. It is the world's original sin. If the cave-man had known how to laugh, History would have been different.
Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you! Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always searching for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing.
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.
Words! Mere words! How terrible they were! How clear, and vivid, and cruel! One could not escape from them. And yet what a subtle magic there was in them! They seemed to be able to give a plastic form to formless things, and to have a music of their own as sweet as that of viol or of lute. Mere words! Was there anything so real as words?.
The world is changed because you are made of ivory and gold. The curves of your lips rewrite history.
There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.
I have grown to love secrecy. It seems to be the one thing that can make modern life mysterious or marvelous to us. The commonest thing is delightful if only one hides it.
You must have a cigarette. A cigarette is the perfect type of a perfect pleasure. It is exquisite, and it leaves one unsatisfied. What more can one want?.
She is all the great heroines of the world in one. She is more than an individual. I love her, and I must make her love me. I want to make Romeo jealous. I want the dead lovers of the world to hear our laughter, and grow sad. I want a breath of our passion to stir dust into consciousness, to wake their ashes into pain.
There is a luxury in self-reproach. When we blame ourselves, we feel that no one else has a right to blame us. It is the confession, not the priest, that gives us absolution.
Always! That is a dreadful word. It makes me shudder when I hear it. Women are so fond of using it. They spoil every romance by trying to make it last forever. It is a meaningless word, too. The only difference between a caprice and a life-long passion is that the caprice lasts a little longer.
We women, as some one says, love with our ears, just as you men love with your eyes, if you ever love at all.
The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful.
It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible....
The reason we all like to think so well of others is that we are all afraid for ourselves. The basis of optimism is sheer terror.
The only artists I have ever known who are personally delightful are bad artists. Good artists exist simply in what they make, and consequently are perfectly uninteresting in what they are. A great poet, a really great poet, is the most unpoetical of all creatures. But inferior poets are absolutely fascinating. The worse their rhymes are, the more picturesque they look. The mere fact of having published a book of second-rate sonnets makes a man quite irresistible. He lives the poetry that he cannot write. The others write the poetry that they dare not realize.
They get up early, because they have so much to do, and go to bed early, because they have so little to think about.
Life is a question of nerves, and fibres, and slowly built-up cells in which thought hides itself and passion has its dreams. You may fancy yourself safe and think yourself strong. But a chance tone of colour in a room or a morning sky, a particular perfume that you had once loved and that brings subtle memories with it, a line from a forgotten poem that you had come across again, a cadence from a piece of music that you had ceased to play... I tell you, that it is on things like these that our lives depend.
It is only shallow people who require years to get rid of an emotion. A man who is master of himself can end a sorrow as easily as he can invent a pleasure. I don't want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.
When I like people immensely I never tell their names to anyone. It is like surrendering a part of them. I have grown to love secrecy.
You have killed my love. You used to stir my imagination. Now you don't even stir my curiosity. You simply produce no effect. I loved you because you were marvelous, because you had genius and intellect, because you realized the dreams of great poets and gave shape and substance to the shadows of art. You have thrown it all away. You are shallow and stupid.
There was so much in you that charmed me that I felt I must tell you something about yourself. I thought how tragic it would be if you were wasted.
But we never get back our youth… The pulse of joy that beats in us at twenty becomes sluggish. Our limbs fail, our senses rot. We degenerate into hideous puppets, haunted by the memory of the passions of which we were too much afraid, and the exquisite temptations that we had not the courage to yield to.
People are very fond of giving away what they need most themselves. It is what I call the depth of generosity.
There is no such thing as a good influence. Because to influence a person is to give him one's own soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions. His virtures are not real to him. His sins, if there are such thing as sins, are borrowed. He becomes an echo of someone else's music, an actor of a part that has not been written for him.
Beauty is a form of Genius--is higher, indeed, than Genius, as it needs no explanation. It is one of the great facts of the world, like sunlight, or springtime, or the reflection in the dark waters of that silver shell we call the moon. It cannot be questioned. It has divine right of sovereignty. It makes princes of those who have it.
Women love us for our defects. If we have enough of them, they will forgive us everything, even our intellects.
The past could always be annihilated. Regret, denial, or forgetfulness could do that. But the future was inevitable.
Oh, brothers! I don't care for brothers. My elder brother won't die, and my younger brothers seem never to do anything else.
In the wild struggle for existence, we want to have something that endures, and so we fill our minds with rubbish and facts, in the silly hope of keeping our place.
And what sort of lives do these people, who pose as being moral, lead themselves? My dear fellow, you forget that we are in the native land of the hypocrite.
The ugly and stupid have the best of it in this world. They can sit at their ease and gape at the play. If they know nothing of victory, they are at least spared the knowledge of defeat. They live as we all should live-- undisturbed, indifferent, and without disquiet. They never bring ruin upon others, nor ever receive it from alien hands. Your rank and wealth, Henry; my brains, such as they are-- my art, whatever it may be worth; Dorian Gray's good looks-- we shall all suffer for what the gods have given us, suffer terribly.
I hate vulgar realism in literature. The man who would call a spade a spade should be compelled to use one.
I never approve, or disapprove, of anything now. It is an absurd attitude to take towards life. We are not sent into the world to air our moral prejudices. I never take any notice of what common people say, and I never interfere with what charming people do. If a personality fascinates me, whatever mode of expression that personality selects is absolutely delightful to me.
If one doesn't talk about a thing, it has never happened. It is simply expression that gives reality to things.
My dear boy, no woman is a genius. Women are a decorative sex. They never have anything to say, but they say it charmingly. Women represent the triumph of matter over mind, just as men represent the triumph of mind over morals.