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The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar…

The Importance of Being Earnest (1895)

by Oscar Wilde

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  3. 20
    Man and Superman by George Bernard Shaw (NancyAf)
    NancyAf: Both plays are hilarious comedies of manners with the interplay between the sexes at the forefront.
  4. 00
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    The Caravaners by Elizabeth von Arnim (carlym)

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Wilde’s last completed play, written in 1895, before his world tragically came crashing down. As always, he’s irreverent and witty in satirizing the institutions of society, most notably love and marriage in this play. Two bachelors use deception and the alter ego “Earnest” in the attempt to woo a couple of ladies who are under the watchful eye of a protector, Lady Bracknell. Irony pervades the play; to be earnest of course is to be sincere, which the men are anything but. Wilde’s mission was to make light of everything society holds dear, to point out that ‘serious matters’ are in reality trivial, and it’s silly to pretend otherwise. In this he was successful, and I find that his humor really stands the test of time.

Just a couple of quotes, on marriage:
“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 I ever get married, I’ll certainly try to forget the fact.”

“To speak frankly, I am not in favour of long engagements. They give people the opportunity of finding out each other’s character before marriage, which I think is never advisable.” ( )
1 vote gbill | Mar 9, 2014 |
One of my favorite plays. A great example of the use of satire. Entertaining for students. ( )
  megsrene | Feb 3, 2014 |

The comedy in this famous play is surprisingly spot on and interestingly current. You could make any of these same jokes today. It's not as if Britain has stopped making jokes about class and culture, right?

Wilde certainly had a talent for farce - for that brand of ridiculous that is not supposed to have any bearing on reality. It teases reality, but sits soundly outside it. The great thing about farce is that you begin reading with that assumption - that nothing is real - and consequently it's all about the words and the plot. Since you can't take it seriously, this frees you up to enjoy the English language at its finest (and silliest).

I especially liked how Wilde created female characters the equal of the male characters. They are equally silly as well as equally eloquent. I would think the role of the "mother-in-law" would be a plum one for any well-established British Dame. In fact, can't you see Maggie Smith playing this in its next incarnation? ( )
  khage | Feb 3, 2014 |
I have long enjoyed the wittiness that I found peeking around the corner of each page of this marvelous book. At many times, I found myself laughing quite hard at things that seemed both innocent and obvious at the same time. A must read for any hardcore literature fan. ( )
  sealford | Dec 31, 2013 |
Oscar Wilde where have you been all of my short life?
Razor sharp wit and impeccable timing?

( )
  newskepticx | Dec 18, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (196 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Oscar Wildeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Holland, VyvyanForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, AlanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Popkin, HenryEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

Is contained in

Eight Great Comedies by Sylvan Barnet

Five Plays by Oscar Wilde by Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde: The Complete Plays, Stories, Poems, and Novels by Oscar Wilde

Three Plays by Oscar Wilde

The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde by Oscar Wilde

Cavalcade of comedy; 21 brilliant comedies from Jonson and Wycherley to Thurber and Coward by Louis Kronenberger

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Morning-room in Algernon's flat in Half-Moon Street. The room is luxuriously and artistically furnished.
LADY BRACKNELL: To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.
ALGERNON: Did you hear what I was playing, Lane?
LANE: I didn't think it polite to listen, sir.
ALGERNON: I am sorry for that, for your sake. I don't play accurately—anyone can play accurately—but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life.
ALGERNON: Good heavens! Is marriage so demoralising as that?
LANE: I believe it is a very pleasant state, sir. I have had very little experience of it myself up to the present. I have only been married once. That was in consequence of a misunderstanding between myself and a young person.
ALGERNON: Oh! it is absurd to have a hard-and-fast rule about what one should read and what one shouldn't. More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn't read.
JACK: I am quite aware of the fact, and I don't propose to discuss modern culture. It isn't the sort of thing one should talk of in private.
ALGERNON: The truth is rarely pure and never simple. Modern life would be very tedious if it were either, and modern literature a complete impossibility!
JACK: That wouldn't be at all a bad thing.
ALGERNON: Literary criticism is not your forte, my dear fellow. Don't try it. You should leave that to people who haven't been at a University. They do it so well in the daily papers.
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Please do not combine with works that contain any work other than The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0486264785, Paperback)

Witty and buoyant comedy of manners is brilliantly plotted from its effervescent first act to its hilarious denouement, and filled with some of literature's most famous epigrams. Widely considered Wilde's most perfect work, the play is reprinted here from an authoritative early British edition. A selection of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:48:31 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

"First published 1899 in the United Kingdom. Drawing room comedy exposing quirks and foibles of Victorian society with plot revolving around amorous pursuits of two men who face social obstacles when they woo young ladies of quality. This play 'is noted for its witty lines, its clever situations, and its satire on the British nobility and clergy.'" Reader's Ency 4th ed.… (more)

» see all 11 descriptions

Legacy Library: Oscar Wilde

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Eigthteen editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

Two editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140436065, 1405801735


An edition of this book was published by HighBridge.

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Urban Romantics

An edition of this book was published by Urban Romantics.

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