The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde- Quote Collection

The Preface

“The artist is the creator of beautiful things, To reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, “The Preface,” pg. 7

“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. There are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, “The Preface,” pg. 7

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

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, “The Preface,” pg. 7

“No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, “The Preface,” pg. 7

“No artist has ethical sympathies.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, “The Preface,” pg. 7

“No artist is ever morbid.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, “The Preface,” pg. 8

“Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art. Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, “The Preface,” pg. 8

“All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril. Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, “The Preface,” pg. 8

“it is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, “The Preface,” pg. 8

All art is quite useless.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, “The Preface,” pg. 8

The Picture of Dorian Gray

“But beauty, real beauty, ends where an intellectual expression begins. Intellect is in itself a mode of exaggeration, and destroys the harmony of any face.” Lord Henry Wotton

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, pg. 11

“It is better not to be different from one’s fellows. The ugly and the 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.” Basil Hallward

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, pg. 12

“There is too much of myself in the thing, Harry- too much of myself!’

‘Poets are not so scrupulous as you are. They know how useful passion is for publication. Nowadays a broken heart will run to many editions.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, pg. 21

“It is only the intellectually lost who ever argue.” Lord Henry Wotton

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, pg. 21

“It is a sad thing to think of, but there is no doubt that Genius lasts longer than Beauty. That accounts for the fact that we all take such pains to over-educate ourselves. 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.” Lord Henry Wotton

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, pg. 22

“And how delightful other people’s emotions were!- much more delightful than their ideas, it seemed to him. One’s own soul, and the passions of one’s friends- those were the fascinating things in life.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, pg. 23

“All influence is immoral- immoral from the scientific point of view.’

‘Why?’

‘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 virtues are not real to him. His sins, if there are such things 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.  To realize one’s nature perfectly- that is what each of us is here for.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, pg. 29

“We are punished for our refusals. Every impulse that we strive to strangle broods in the mind, and poisons us. The body sins once, and has done with its sin, for actions is a mode of purification.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, pg. 30

“Music had stirred him like that. Music had troubled him many times. But music was not articulate. It was not a new world, but rather another chaos, that is created in us. 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 viola or of lute. Mere words! Was there anything so real as words?”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, pg. 31

“And Beauty is a form of Genius- is higher, indeed, than Genius, as it needs no explanation. It is of the great facts of the world, like sunlight, or springtime, or the reflection in dark waters of that silver she we call the moon. It cannot be questioned…People say sometimes that Beauty is only superficial. That may be so. But at least it is not so superficial as Thought is. To me, Beauty is the wonder of wonders. It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearance. The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible…”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, pg. 34

“There was something terribly enthralling in the exercise of influence. No other activity was like it. To project one’s soul into some gracious form, and let it tarry there for a moment; to hear one’s own intellectual views echoed back to one with all the added music of passion and youth; to convey one’s temperament into another as though it were a subtle fluid or a strange perfume; there was a real joy in that-”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, pg. 50-51

“‘How dreadful!’ cried Lord Henry. ‘I can stand brute force, but brute reason is quite unbearable. There is something unfair about its use, It is hitting below the intellect….The way of paradoxes is the way of truth. To test Reality we must see it one the tightrope. When the Verities become acrobats we can judge them.'”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, pg. 55

“‘It is the problem of slavery, and we try to solve it by amusing the slaves.'” Lord Henry Wotton

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, pg. 56

“‘To get back one’s youth, one has merely to repeat one’s follows.'”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, pg. 57

“My dear boy, the people who love only once in their lives are really the shallow people. What they call their loyalty, and their fidelity, I call either the lethargy of custom or their lack of imagination. Faithfulness is to the emotional life what consistency is to the life of the intellect- simply a confession of failures.” Lord Henry Wotton

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, pg. 66-67

“Soul and body, body and soul- how mysterious they were! There was animalism in the soul, and the body had its moments of spirituality. The senses could refine, and the intellect could degrade.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, pg. 77

“As it was, we always misunderstood ourselves, and rarely understood others. Experience was of no ethical value. It was merely the name men gave to their mistakes.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, pg. 78

“What the worm was to the corpse, his sins would be to the painted image on the canvas. They would mar its beauty, and eat away its grace. They would define it, and make it shameful. And yet the thing would still live on. It would be always alive. He shuddered, and for a moment he regretted that he had not told Basil the true reason why he had wished to hide the picture away, Basil would have helped him to resist Lord Henry’s influence, and the still more poisonous influences that came from his own temperament. The love that he bore him- for it was really love- had nothing in it that was not noble and intellectual. It was not the mere physical admiration of beauty that is born of the senses, and that dies when the senses tire…Yes, Basil could have saved him. But it was too late now. The past could always be annihilated. Regret, denial, or forgetfulness could do that. But the future was inevitable. There were passions in him that would find their terrible outlet, dreams that would make the shadow of their evil real.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, pg. 151-152

“It was the creation of such worlds as these that seemed to Dorian Gray to be the true object, or amongst the true objects of life; and in his search for sensations that would be at once new and delightful and possess that element of strangeness that is so essential to romance, he would often adopt certain modes of thought that he knew to be really alien to his nature, abandon himself to their subtle influences, and then, having, as it were, caught their color and satisfied his intellectual curiosity, leave them with that curious indifference that is not incompatible with a real ardour of temperament, and that indeed, according to certain modern psychologist, is often a condition of it.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, pg. 167

“For these treasures, and everything he collected in his lovely house, were to be to him means of forgetfulness, modes by which he could escape, for a season, from the feat that seemed to him at times to be almost too great to be borne.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, pg. 177

“For the canons of good society are, or should be, the same as the canons of art. Form is absolutely essential to it. it should have the dignity of a ceremony, as well as its unreality, and should combine the insincere character of a romantic play with the wit and beauty that make such plays delightful to us. Is insincerity such a terrible thing? I think not. It is merely a method by which we can multiply our personalities…man was a being with myriad lives and myriad sensations, a complex multiform creature that bore within itself strange legacies of thought and passion, and whose very flesh was tainted with the monstrous maladies of the dead.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, pg. 180

“‘To cure the soul by means of the sense, and the senses by means of the soul!’ How the words rang in his ears! His soul, certainly, was sick to death…It is said that passion makes one think in a circle. Certainly with hideous iteration the bitten lips of Dorian Gray shaped and reshaped those subtle words that dealt with soul and sense, till he had found in them the full expression, as it were, of his mood, and justified, by intellectual approval, passions that without such justification would still have dominated his temper…Ugliness that had once been hateful to him because it made things real, became dear to him now for that very reason. Ugliness was the one reality.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, pg. 231-233

“Each man lived his own life, and paid his own price for living it. The only pity was one had to pay so often for a single fault. One had to pay over and over again, indeed. In her dealings with man Destiny never closed her accounts.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, pg. 237

“‘Knowledge would be fatal. It is uncertainty that charms one. A mist makes things wonderful.'” Lord Henry Wotton

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, pg. 257

“‘Oh! anything becomes a pleasure if one does it too often,’ cried Lord Henry, laughing. ‘That is one of the most important secrets of life.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, pg. 266-267

“what does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose…his own soul?”…

‘Don’t, Harry. The soul is a terrible reality. It can be bought, and sold, and bartered away. It can be poisoned, or made perfect. There is a soul in each of of us. I know it.’

‘Do you feel quite sure of that, Dorian?’

‘Quite sure.’

‘Ah! then it must be an illusion. he things one feels absolutely certain about are never true. That is the fatality of Faith, and the lesson of Romance.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, pg. 268-269

“Art has no influence upon action. It annihilates the desire to act. It is superbly sterile. The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, pg. 272

“His beauty had been to him but a mask, his youth but a mockery. What was youth at best? A green, an unripe time, a tome of shallow moods and sickly thoughts. Why had he worn its livery? Youth had spoiled him.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, pg. 275-276

“A new life! That was what he wanted. That was what he was waiting for. Surely he had begun it already…Yes, he would be good, and the hideous thing that he had hidden away would no longer be a terror to him. He felt as if the load had been lifted form him already. He went in quietly, locking the door behind him, as was his custom, and dragged the purple handing from the portrait. A cry of pain and indignation before from him. He could see no chance, save that in the eyes there was a look of cunning, and in the mouth the curved wrinkle of the hypocrite. The thing was still loathsome- more loathsome, if possible, than before…No. There had been nothing more, Through vanity he had spared her. In hypocrisy he had worn the mask of goodness. For curiosity’s sake he had tried the denial of self. He recognized that now.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, pg. 276-278

“The picture itself- that was evidence…It had been like conscience to him. Yes, it had been conscience. He would destroy it…It would kill the past….It would kill this monstrous soul-life, and, without its hideous warnings, he would be at peace. He seized the thing, and stabbed the picture with it…When they entered they found, hanging upon the wall, a splendid portrait of their master as they had last seen him. In all the wonder of his exquisite youth and beauty. Lying on the floor was a dead man, in evening dress, with a knife in his heart. He was withered, wrinkled, and loathsome of visage.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, pg. 278-279

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