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The Importance of Being Earnest / Lady…

The Importance of Being Earnest / Lady Windermere's Fan / A Woman of No…

by Oscar Wilde

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Works of the Irish wit that include his best known piece, The Importance of Being Earnest. Throughout this collection, one fact remains consistent: Wilde demonstrates his distaste for the uber-morality and frivolity of the English upper classes, while getting in a few swipes at American puritanism at the same time. The world of "society" is laid bare with all its pretensions, and the class system is skewered. A worthwhile read, though if you have no concept of the British class system of the time, some of the references might leave you scratching your head and thinking "nobody really acts like that, right?" Just remember you are reading works from a different time, a time when it was still considered appropriate to jail someone for having a same-sex relationship, and children who were born of unmarried parents were considered tainted, even though they had no role in the decision-making process that brought them into the world. ( )
  quantum_flapdoodle | Sep 5, 2015 |
I cannot eat muffins in an agitated manner, or I'll get butter on my cuffs. ( )
  JennyArch | Dec 25, 2013 |
{rereading Lady Windermere's Fan, Feb. 2016} I am altering my rating of this play from 4* (see below) to 4½* -- I had forgotten how many wonderful lines there were in the dialogue of this play. These raise it up but I still don't think it is as good as my favorite, The Importance of Being Earnest so I can't give it 5*.

{review from 2012}
I find it difficult to rate collections, as the individual parts are almost always vary in quality. For this collection, I thought that I would give a very brief review & a rating for each play...

Lady Windermere's Fan - 4 stars; funny play about the importance (or lack thereof) of appearances re married women & their virtue

Salomé - 3 stars; I like the satire but the Biblical setting just wasn't my thing.

A Woman of No Importance - 2½ stars; to be quite honest, this play made so little impression on me that I can't remember what it is about! Time to reread it.

An Ideal Husband - 4½ stars; very good satire about trust & love between a married couple.

The Importance of Being Earnest - 5 stars; so hilariously funny. My favorite of all Wilde' s work ( )
  leslie.98 | Jul 9, 2013 |
Wow! The Importance of Being Earnest is now my favorite play, ever! I laughed out loud the whole way through! The satire and humor were delicious!

The other plays were excellent and I enjoyed them all, too, with the exception of Salomé. They were interesting social commentaries on the Victorian era.

It is the title play that stands out, though. It is satire and high comedy at its best! ( )
  bookwoman247 | Jun 17, 2013 |
This book contains five of Oscar Wilde's most famous plays: The Importance of Being Earnest, Lady Windermere's Fan, A Woman of No Importance, An Ideal Husband and the somewhat unique Salome-a tragedy in one act. Each have their own personality but most contain the witty, banter between people connected to each other through high English society longing for a life full of love and entertainment. Salome is a very dark tragedy where the king yearns for his step-daughter in the town Sodom-Gommorah.

I really enjoyed the wit in the plays (excluding Salome). Having all four romantic plays together makes it hard to remember the wit behind each of them separately. But I enjoyed each one in its own. Salome was equally as interesting, but just extremely different! A great read, though. I enjoyed reading the plays while I was in Ireland, the birth place of Oscar Wilde! ( )
  missbrandysue | Oct 16, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Oscar Wildeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Beardsley, AubreyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lahr, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Scene: Morning-room of Lord Windermere's house in Carlton House Terrace. (Lady Windermere’s Fan)
Men marry because they are tired; women because they are curious. Both are disappointed. (A Woman of No Importance)
ALGERNON. I really don't see anything romantic in proposing. It is very romantic to be in love. But there is nothing romantic about a definite proposal. Why, one may be accepted. One usually is, I believe. Then the excitement is all over. The very essence of romance is uncertainty. If ever I get married, I'll certainly try to forget the fact.

JACK. I have no doubt about that, dear Algy. The Divorce Court was specially invented for people whose memories are so curiously constituted.

ALGERNON. Oh! there is no use speculating on that subject. Divorces are made in Heaven-... (The Importance of Being Earnest)
...Mary Farquhar, who always flirts with her own husband across the dinner-table. That is not very pleasant. Indeed, it is not even decent . . . and that sort of thing is enormously on the increase. The amount of women in London who flirt with their own husbands is perfectly scandalous. It looks so bad. It is simply washing one's clean linen in public... (The Importance of Being Earnest)
ALGERNON. Then your wife will. You don't seem to realise, that in married life three is company and two is none. (The Importance of Being Earnest)
JACK. ... Her mother is perfectly unbearable. Never met such a Gorgon . . . I don't really know what a Gorgon is like, but I am quite sure that Lady Bracknell is one. In any case, she is a monster, without being a myth, which is rather unfair . . . (The Importance of Being Earnest)
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Contents: The Importance of Being Earnest - Lady Windermere's Fan - A Woman of No Importance - An Ideal Husband - Salomé
Contents: Lady Windermere's fan - Salomé - A woman of no importance - An ideal husband - The importance of being Earnest.
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Book description
Lady Windermere’s Fan.


A Woman of No Importance.

An Ideal Husband.

The Importance of Being Earnest.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140482091, Paperback)

Wilde was both a glittering wordsmith and a social outsider. His drama emerges out of these two perhaps contradictory identities, combining epigrammatic brilliance and shrewd social observation. This book includes "Lady Windermere's Fan", "Salome", "A Woman of No Importance", "An Ideal Husband", "A Florentine Tragedy" and "The Importance of Being Earnest", which appears in full with the 'Grigsby' scene which originally made up the fourth act.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:07 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

The Importance of Being Earnest and Four Other Plays, by Oscar Wilde, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriateAll editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works. Oscar Wilde's legendary wit dazzles in The Importance of Being Earnest, one of the greatest and most popular works of drama to emerge from Victorian England. A light-hearted satire of the absurdity of all forms and conventions, this comic masterpiece features an unforgettable cast of characters who, as critic Max Beerbohm observed, “speak a kind of beautiful nonsense—the language of high comedy, twisted into fantasy.This collection also includes Oscar Wilde's most famous comedies, Lady Windermere's Fan, A Woman of No Importance, and An Ideal Husband, as well as his poetic tragedy Salom—all written between 1891 and 1895, Wilde's most creative period. George Bernard Shaw said of Oscar Wilde that he is “our most thorough playwright. He plays with everything: with wit, with philosophy, with drama, with actors and audience, with the whole theater.Kenneth Krauss received his Ph.D. from Columbia University. He teaches drama at the College of Saint Rose, where he also directs and produces. His most recent book is The Drama of Fallen France, on French theater under the German Occupation.… (more)

    » see all 5 descriptions

Legacy Library: Oscar Wilde

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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