Saturday, October 13, 2012

Questionable Oscar Wilde Quotes

We all know an Oscar Wilde quote when we read one. “Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about.” This brilliant, illogically true statement from Lady Windermere’s Fan has the late writer’s name written all over it. And his literary repertoire overflows with equally funny and meaningful witticisms. Doesn’t each of his quotes have a certain unmistakable “ring” to it? I definitely think so, which is why I find the many fake quotes attributed to him fairly easy to distinguish.

“Never love anyone who treats you like you’re ordinary.”

Anybody who has searched “Oscar Wilde quotes” on Google has likely come across this famous statement. I love the quote, but it just doesn’t seem to me like one Wilde would have said. Compare the above quote to this one:

“How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as if she were a perfectly normal human being?”

Doesn’t this sound so much more like Oscar Wilde? Somehow, this quote is funnier, more outrageous and more absurdly relevant. The fake quote expresses the same basic idea, but I think it’s too straightforward to have come from man it’s attributed to.

“The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame.”

Again, I adore this quote, but I think it’s too serious to have been said by Oscar Wilde. I have no doubt that he agreed with it because it echoes a phrase found in the preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray:

“There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all.” Certainly, Wilde had much to say on this topic. His own works were frequently caught in controversies concerning “morality.”—controversies perpetuated by those unable to tolerate the satire directed at their own (and Wilde’s) way of life.

The two “faux” quotes above are questionable. They pop out at me as “fake,” but who can say for sure? Oscar Wilde himself wrote in The Importance of Being Earnest that “the truth is rarely pure and never simple.” Maybe someday I (or one of you guys) will find sources for the statements above, but until then, I’m going to avoid attributing them to Wilde.
I find that The Quotations Page is pretty reliable (I always search “Marilyn Monroe quotes” to test these kinds of websites. It’s always reassuring ,too, if the site includes sources). You guys should check out the Oscar Wilde page (for amusement if nothing else)! With anyone, the more real quotes you read and the more interviews you watch, the better you’ll get at weeding out fake quotes.


1 comment:

  1. It's pretty clear you've never actually read Oscar Wilde. The second quote is from dialogue within The Picture of Dorian Gray. Lord Henry says it to Dorian in chapter 19 Here's the thing about Oscar Wilde: he stuck with his philosophies and often repeats them in various ways and various wordings through all of his work. Thus, don't assume that just because one quote sounds like another that he didn't say both.