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The Importance of Being Earnest Kindle Edition
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|Length: 104 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Combining a rapier wit, a sense for the ridiculous that could give Monty Python a run for its money and a scathing indictment of the uselessness of the upperclasses, Wilde pulls no punches in this humorous, silly, outrageous tale of the odd couple of single men and their antics as they each force life changing epiphanies out of each other causing shocking results.
As these nobility were together at musicales, balls, parties, and dinners virtually every night during the season, it created an environment where witty and clever conversation became a requirement to being a successful guest, or your dinner companions, card players dance partners and potential suitors would think you were dull, or shockingly simple. Filthy rich covered a lot of sins, but everyone else had to be entertaining.
This play revolves around two very different men: Jack and Algernon. Jack is not noble, nor is he clever. He is a responsible man who is in love with Algernon's cousin Gwendolin. He gets frustrated by Algernon's trivial nature his witty banter and his capacity for causing trouble, yet they remain friends.
Wilde takes this a step further by having Algernon have all the negative characteristics of a noble: he's impoverished, immoral, corrupting, lazy, unethical, revels in lying, loves to take risks and cause trouble. He is also amazingly attractive, extremely charming at times and has very expensive taste in clothing. His wit is unparalleled. He maligns love, marriage and family among the many topics at which he takes aim. He is my favorite character in the play.
In the first act, Jack drops in on Algernon at his home in London uninvited. Algernon is expecting a visit from his stuffy Aunt Augusta and cousin Gwendolin. The repartee between the two men during this act is the best in the play.
Wilde not only skewers the nobility for their entertainment and courting practices, but also their behaviors, reading and conventional wisdom. You can expect many extreme occurrences. Secret identities are discovered not once, but twice. Two marriage proposals are tendered and there is much chaos. A Count of Monte Christo mystery is solved based on a simple accessory. Romance novels take many direct hits as being excessively silly. A fake person died in Paris and was reanimated in the English countryside on the same day. Old women play pretend better than children.
Luckily, everyone changes for the better - they become more like Algernon. The Importance of Being Ernest; he finally becomes himself.
There is an art to using language so skillfully with such elan. It was a joy to read. This play was just a kick in the pants.
Oscar Wilde is undoubtedly one of those rare real life quotemachines whom I'm undyingly jealous of. You know, those people who manage to speak as though their words were meant to be graven for the ages and not just immediately swallowed up by the void. From profundity to wittiness, he has a knack for presenting small truths in exquisite packages.
I suspect that every review of this play quickly devolves to listing the best quotations and who am I to upset tradition?
All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his.
The only way to behave to a woman is to make love to her, if she is pretty, and to some one else, if she is plain.
Well, I can't eat muffins in an agitated manner. The butter would probably get on my cuffs. One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them.
I dislike arguments of any kind. They are always vulgar, and often convincing.
The very essence of romance is uncertainty. If ever I get married, I'll certainly try to forget the fact.
Humor, tips on proper muffin consumption, unserious lessons on the importance (though truly more so, the unimportance) of sincerity. Wilde is always ready to entertain.
Of course, you can get it free online at Gutenberg.org or other places, but with Kindle, I can read it on my smartphone, PC and tablet, and synchronize by bookmarks, notes, etc. (and with the latest update to Kindle free software for Android, I can copy and paste sections, which helps with my work).
I really did wonder how the two protagonists were going to pull themselves out of the quagmire (both lying to their respective loves, claiming their names were Ernest, and then getting caught, and getting away with it. I should have read this when I was a lot younger.
And it was fun to read Wilde just to appreciate, once again, what English can be like in the hands of a true craftsman (he knew it too, and sometimes is too smart for his own good, I think, but still--amazing writing, especially in the context of a lot of the "literature" we are spoon fed today).
If you like this book, read Wodehouse' books on Jeeves and Wooster. They are absolutely hilarious accounts of the life of England's idle elite a century ago--all fiction, but so true-to-type that many of the fictional accounts actually happened later (Giovannie Guareschi said the same of his Don Camillo books--another favorite). Enjoy!