Oscar Wilde quotes on journalism and literature

Oscar Wilde is one the giants of Irish literature. He is perhaps as famous for his memorable quotes as he is for his classic works such as The Ballad of Reading Gaol, The Importance of Being Earnest and The Portrait of Dorian Grey.

Wilde saw himself as an artist, and distanced himself as much as possible from critics and journalists for whom he had a general disdain. The quotes below suggest that not much has changed in the relationship between artist and critic in the century or so since Wilde’s death.

These are some of Wilde’s most memorable quotes on his art, and on his views on ‘craftsmen’ journalists.

Oscar Wilde quote. The good end happily, the bad unhappily - that is what fiction means. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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Ridicule is the tribute paid to the genius by the mediocrities.

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It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.

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Biography lends to death a new terror.

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Oscar Wilde quote. The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame. Image copyright Ireland Calling
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By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, journalism keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.

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Mr Henry James writes fiction as if it were a painful duty.

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I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.

Oscar Wilde quote. I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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Its failings notwithstanding, there is much to be said in favour of journalism in that by giving us the opinion of the uneducated, it keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.

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All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling.

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Oscar Wilde quote. The Book of Life begins with a man and woman in a garden and it ends with Revelations. Image copyright Ireland Calling
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If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.

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The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what is worth knowing. Journalism, conscious of this, and having tradesman-like habits, supplies their demands.

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Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.

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Oscar Wilde quote. The critic has to educate the public; the artist has to educate the critic. Image copyright Ireland Calling
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This suspense is terrible. I hope it will last.

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The imagination imitates. It is the critical spirit that creates.

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Oscar Wilde quote. The difference between literature and journalism is that journalism is unreadable and literature is not read. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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Quotes Cartoon illustration of shamrocks. Image copyright Ireland Calling

All images copyright Ireland Calling

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