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The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays Mass Market Paperback – February 7, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0451531896 ISBN-10: 0451531892 Edition: Reprint

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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.

About the Author

Oscar Wilde was born on October 16, 1854, to the Irish nationalist and writer “Speranza” Wilde and the doctor William Wilde. After graduating from Oxford in 1878, Wilde moved to London, where he became notorious for his sharp wit and flamboyant style of dress.

Though he was publishing plays and poems throughout the 1880s, it wasn’t until the late 1880s and early 1890s that his work started to be received positively. In 1895, Oscar Wilde was tried for homosexuality and was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison. Tragically, this downfall came at the height of his career, as his plays, An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest, were playing to full houses in London. He was greatly weakened by the privations of prison life, and moved to Paris after his sentence. Wilde died in a hotel room, either of syphilis or complications from ear surgery, in Paris, on November 30, 1900. --This text refers to an alternate Mass Market Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Signet; Reprint edition (February 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451531892
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451531896
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.6 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (202 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #727,853 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Oscar Wilde is humorous and comical in his use of language in this play.
Zachattack
This is the first play I have ever read just as a book, and I have never burst out laughing reading anything before.
K. Mandalovic
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys play-format comedies with strong irony.
Patrick

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

103 of 105 people found the following review helpful By James Hiller VINE VOICE on 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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55 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance 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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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By T. Kaufmann on 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 By amy overholser on September 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
In Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest", he answers this question in the form of brilliant comedy. The play, full of witty dialogue such as Lady Bracknell's answer to her daughter's suitor saying he does smoke; "I am glad to hear it. A man should always have an occupation of some kind."; says, yes, it is important to be Earnest.
One of the more remarkable details of this play is in the title itself. While attending or reading the play, you learn, that the two heroine's of the piece, Gwendolyn and Cecily, are determined to marry men named Earnest; unfortunately, Jack wants to marry Gwendolyn, and Algernon would like to settle down with Cecily. What is the reasonable solution? To tell them that their name's are Earnest. However, Earnest is not only a name, but also a word meaning: an intensely serious state of mind. Why would Oscar Wilde choose the name Earnest for this seemingly ridiculous play anyway?
Why ridiculous you may ask. The answer comes in not only the ingenious dialogue, but in the plot itself. Without giving away the entire story, one can say that the two main characters live, however innocent, deceptive lives and still end up with the fair maiden's in the end. One of them even ends up really being Earnest, to which he answers, "... it is a terrible thing for a man to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking nothing but truth..."
Wilde called his piece, "A trivial comedy for serious people." If the word earnest means serious and the play itself is joyfully absurd, this writer imagines that the characters in the play although exceptionally serious about themselves and their lives, they are trivial or ridiculous. In conclusion, I would say that this play is not only suited for the serious mind, this play is uproariously fun for all of us who appreciate good humor.
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