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The Importance of Being Earnest [Paperback]

by Oscar Wilde
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (429 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 1, 2005 158049580X 978-1580495806
This Prestwick House Literary Touchstone Edition includes a glossary and reader's notes to help the modern reader appreciate Wilde's wry wit and elaborate plot twists.

Oscar Wilde's madcap farce about mistaken identities, secret engagements, and lovers' entanglements still delights readers more than a century after its 1895 publication and premiere performance. The rapid-fire wit and eccentric characters of The Importance of Being Earnest have made it a mainstay of the high school curriculum for decades.

Cecily Cardew and Gwendolen Fairfax are both in love with the same mythical suitor. Jack Worthing has wooed Gewndolen as Ernest while Algernon has also posed as Ernest to win the heart of Jack's ward, Cecily. When all four arrive at Jack's country home on the same weekend, the rivals to fight for Ernest's undivided attention and the Ernests to claim their beloved's pandemonium breaks loose.

Only a senile nursemaid and an old, discarded hand-bag can save the day!


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Editorial Reviews

Review


"In short, there is material aplenty here for the average reader and considerable matter for the specialist." --English Literature in Transition 1880-1920


--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A collection of literature anthologies and reference books for Key Stage 3 onwards. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 76 pages
  • Publisher: Prestwick House Inc. (January 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158049580X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580495806
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.9 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (429 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #233,774 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
97 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wilde's wittiest July 14, 2005
Format:Paperback
One thing happens when you read Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest"; you are amazed to remember that this play was authored over 100 years ago. For most plays of that era, the average reader tends to lose references and it tends to be stodgy and irrelevant. Not so Earnest, due to the brilliance and imagination of it's playwright.

The Importance of Being Earnest is a tour de force of comedy, misidentifications, and farce. Algernon and Jack are friends, and each has invented an imaginary person as an excuse of getting out of engagements. Jack's person is Ernest, a brother with a wild past. The two conspire to woo the ladies that they love, and through a series of happenstances, must gently deceive to get want they want. The end result is a play of uncomperable quality, chock full of witticisms that are highly quotable out of context. In fact, I dare suggest the entire play is quotable, such its brilliance.

Wilde pulled no punches when writing Earnest. Often, when a play is filled with memorable quotes, it takes away from the realism of the scenes because the characters then become merely conduits for the writer's intellect. Not so in Earnest. Wilde manages to make the characters say exactly what they would say in each situation, true to their persona. That alone is quite an accomplishment, one not often seen.

Misidentities, witty banter, love, all conspire to one of English's most brilliant comedies ever to have seen the stage. We should be so lucky the world had Oscar Wilde in it, and even more so, that he wrote at all.
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53 of 58 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comedy for Serious People" is one of the first plays written in English since the works of Shakespeare that celebrates the language itself. Oscar Wilde's comedy has one advantage over the classic comedies of the Bard in that "The Importance of Being Earnest" is as funny today as it was when it was first performed at the St. Jame's Theater in London on February 14, 1895. After all, enjoying Shakespeare requires checking the bottom for footnotes explaining the meaning of those dozens of words that Shakespeare makes up in any one of his plays. But Wilde's brilliant wit, his humor and social satire, remain intact even though he was a writer of the Victorian era.
Wilde believed in art for art's own sake, which explains why he emphasized beauty while his contemporaries were dealing with the problems of industrial England. "The Importance of Being Earnest" is set among the upper class, making fun of their excesses and absurdities while imbuing them with witty banter providing a constant stream of epigrams. The play's situation is simple in its unraveling complexity. Algernon Moncrieff is an upper-class English bachelor who is visited by his friend Jack Worthing, who is known as "Ernest." Jack has come to town to propose to Gwendolen Fairfax, the daugher of the imposing Lady Bracknell and Algy's first cousin. Jack has a ward named Cecily who lives in the country while Algernon has an imaginary friend named "Bunbury" whom he uses as an excuse to get out of social engagements.
Jack proposes to Gwendolen but has two problems.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great version of the Classic Play October 16, 2005
Format:Paperback
The Importance of Being Earnest is a fantastic play. It is an easy read, and is not only well thought out, but hilarious.

I liked this book of the play especially, because it includes helpful notes in the beginning, but more because it has a glossary of difficult terms in the back. Every time I came to a word that I did not know, it was sure to be defined in the back.

If you love theatre, this is a great play to read. I would highly suggest this book.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE BEST EDITION OF THE PLAYS... November 22, 2005
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
All you Wildeans take note: this is the only edition of the plays wherein the lines are properly numbered for specific citation and easy reference: very, very important!!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Importance of the whole Text November 9, 2004
By Tusker
Format:Paperback
An extraordinary play; witty, profound and beautiful. And even better if you read all of it. Which you won't if you buy the Penguin copy with Edith Evans on the front, since this version is heavily abridged. Which is fine except the publishers make no mention of this at all in the volume. And cultural vandalism of this kind should, I feel at least be acknowledged.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A befitting title. June 23, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Comedy well worth lying for. The characters are all aristocratic British so full of folly I was rolling with laughter. They bungle everything with witty humor and sharp remarks. It is worth reading for the English alone, the language that is, not to knock the people though. I can't really sum it up without ruining the plot, but, think Shakespeare comedy. I can say no more.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clever and witty even today! August 7, 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is Wilde's best play, it is fast moving, has wonderful characters (especially the women), and funnily enough is still a pretty accurate observation of society. Perhaps nothing ever really changes! At the core of the play is the name Earnest, and all that it means to the various characters, and how their white lies and complicated lives catch up with them. And the lines - wonderful ones like "I always carry my diary - a lady should always have something scandalous to read on the train", and "if you are not too long, I shall wait for you forever!". Be assured, all works out well in the end, and all shall be revealed as to how important it is to be Earnest.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!
Funny. Witty. Humorous. I had no idea I would enjoy this book this much. A fun read. I shall read more Oscar Wilde.
Published 1 day ago by kaj rickert
5.0 out of 5 stars Drytastic
this play is absolutely fantastic! Its use of dry humor and just general cleverness makes it a must for anyone with taste. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars fun read
Fun and very entertaining. I really enjoyed reading this play. It was a fun read and I recommend it to anyone.
Published 3 days ago by amc
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun quick read
This was a fun and quick read, it only took me about an hour to read this. Very light and easy.
Published 3 days ago by katie
5.0 out of 5 stars Hillarious
One of my favorite reads. If you are into literature and want to enjoy something in one sitting - this is for you. Read more
Published 6 days ago by b00kll0vr
4.0 out of 5 stars In earnest
I love the knots that tangle the characters together and how they unfold. I recommend this be read by all.
Published 8 days ago by tamra tucker
4.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable
This book is a nice, short, witty airplane read. this is my first kindle book and I am satisfied with the experience.
Published 9 days ago by t beck
3.0 out of 5 stars Wanted to read Oscar Wilde.
Was not my cup of tea at this time, more of personal preference or something one has read in the past.
Published 10 days ago by Anita Sawicki
5.0 out of 5 stars terrific
Funny and dripping with Oscar Wilde's wit. A perfect introduction to a great playwright. Managed to read it in one sitting.
Published 12 days ago by arcopol
2.0 out of 5 stars sexist
whether or not the book was supposed to be satirical, the level of misogyny was gut-wrenchingly uncomfortable to read however I'm glad this book was a requirement for English due... Read more
Published 12 days ago by Brittany Colorado
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