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The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays (Plays, Penguin) Paperback – December 2, 1986

ISBN-13: 978-0140482096 ISBN-10: 0140482091

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Product Details

  • Series: Plays, Penguin
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (December 2, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140482091
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140482096
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 4.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,052,297 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Customer Reviews

This is to my mind the finest production of the most delightful of stage plays.
James W. Friedman
"The Importance of Being Earnest" is an extremely thin plotted play, which allows Wilde's witticisms and humor to shine through.
RCM
Please read it you will have a serious good time laughing and having so much fun you will not be able to put the book down.
Milena Gomez

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance M. Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 11, 2004
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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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By B.E.F. on 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 By Tusker on November 9, 2004
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Darnese Daniels on October 5, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I had no knowledge of Oscar Wilde and had only seen ten minutes of the movie, The Importance of Being Earnest, as I flipped through the cable channels on my television. However, due to a class that I am enrolled in, not only do I now know who he is but I am blessed to have been introduced to his work.
The Importance of Being Earnest, makes a very humorous yet profound commentary on money, marriage, status and image as it pertains to the aristocracy of that time. It seems that Oscar Wilde utilized this medium of artistic expression to cleverly expose the twisted way that those with wealth perceived themselves and the lengths they would go to the preserve that perception. It has been referred to as a "comedy of manners" because so much of what defined or distinguished the aristocracy from the common man was not necessarily the wealth that they actually had but what men and women did to appear like they had it.
Ernest, who is the main character in the play, has done all of what is necessary to appear as though he comes from wealth. He wears the clothing, keeps the company and talks the talk of the aristocrat. However what he soon finds out is that all of those whom he is trying to impress and fit in with, have more unresolved issues in their closet than he does. I believe Wilde addresses this social paradox with impeccable wit and an amazing sense of human psychology. He not only challenged those who belonged to the aristocracy to examine what they placed value in, but continues to challenge each reader today, that these superficial values might not stand as valuable at all.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Lesley West on 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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By John Ellis on July 15, 2006
Format: Audio CD
This is the Theater Guild on the Air condensed version with this great cast, but there is a double LP box set on Angel in America that is perhaps the greatest audio recording of an English comedy, and it should be issued at once. It makes you pine for Gielgud in the movie. This set does include some poetry recordings by Gielgud and Evans, which is a wonderful bonus, but why the perfect sound and complete version wasn't issued is no doubt a legal issue. Get over it, someone, please.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By "umd_cyberpunk" on July 31, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
One of Oscar Wilde's most famous works, this play is a must read for anyone that is even remotely interested in English theater at any level.
"Comedy of Manners," Wilde's play is on the very shallow surface, a funny play that is full of some of his greatest epigrams.
At a deeper level, this play is full of political commentary, social satire and a look at the upper class British of a hundred years ago.
Using his world renound style and wit, Wilde, wrote a play that brought to light the majors flaws of the idle rich and the hypocracy that lived right on the surface of their every day lives.
Often immitated but never surpassed, Wilde had a way with words and an ability to get to the heart of matters while protecting himself; by making the people he was pointing his finger at, laugh at themselves.
This play should be bought, even if one has seen one of the many film versions, or a live revival of the show. The jokes are piled so thickly on top of each other, that in real time, it is imposible to catch everything, or to digest all of the deeper meanings that this play attempts to expose.
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