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The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comedy for Serious People (1899) [Kindle Edition]

Oscar Wilde
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The importance of being earnest : a trivial comedy for serious people (1899)

Editorial Reviews


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


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

Product Details

  • File Size: 9936 KB
  • Print Length: 132 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004IEA8SS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #611,104 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
54 of 59 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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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE BEST EDITION OF THE PLAYS... November 22, 2005
By B.E.F.
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
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
4.0 out of 5 stars It Is Impotant To Be Earnest 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
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
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
5.0 out of 5 stars The Importance of This Play 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Oscar Wilde's last play was brilliant!
Where does The Importance of Being Earnest: Free Performance rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far? Read more
Published 4 days ago by Kristi
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good condition of a very nice collection.
Published 7 days ago by Steve
5.0 out of 5 stars "You can never be over-educated or over-dressed." Oscar Wilde
This play is a wickedly funny comedy about victoran bachelors Algernon Moncrieff and Ernest Worthing. Read more
Published 13 days ago by Reader2307
3.0 out of 5 stars The cd came in good condition but the case was cracked in multiple...
The cd came in good condition but the case was cracked in multiple places and one corner came off. It would have been 4 stars since the product itself is great and the voices used... Read more
Published 23 days ago by Jordan Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Required reading for freshman in college.
Published 27 days ago by S. Rawls
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious and Ridiculously Satirical
This must be one of the greatest comedic plays of its time. The way the personalities come together in a serious, yet evolving, Victorian society has you laughing the whole way... Read more
Published 29 days ago by Happy cookie
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh so funny
This short play is so very funny because it is so well written and right on regarding human behavior. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Chuck Finley
5.0 out of 5 stars Jeremy Clyde is a delight !
Not known widely as an actor in the US and a thorough delight. I could listen for hours on end. What chops !!
Published 3 months ago by Bonnie Margolis
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 4 months ago by b00kll0vr
5.0 out of 5 stars great play.
great play -- wonderful satire of that era with lots of double entendres. Used it for our play reading group and it was a hit!
Published 5 months ago by cljuster
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