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The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays: Salome; Lady Windermere's Fan (Signet classics) Reissue Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 979 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0451525055
ISBN-10: 0451525051
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"[The Importance of Being Earnest] has a strong claim to being the most perfect comedy in the English language"

About the Author

Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin on 16 October 1854. He studied at Trinity College, Dublin and Magdalen College, Oxford. He later lived in London and married Constance Lloyd there in 1884. Wilde was a leader of the Aesthetic Movement. His only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, was first published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine in 1890. He published a revised and expanded edition in 1891 in response to negative reviews which criticised the book's immorality. Wilde became famous through of the immense success of his plays such as Lady Windemere's Fan (1892), An Ideal Husband (1895) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). In 1985, after a public scandal involving Wilde's relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas, he was sentenced to two years' hard labour in Reading Gaol for 'gross indecency'. His poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol was based on his experiences in prison and was published in 1898. After his release, Wilde never lived in England again and died in Paris on 30 November 1900. He is buried in Pere Lachaise cemetery.
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Product Details

  • Series: Signet classics
  • Mass Market Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Signet Classics; Reissue edition (March 10, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451525051
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451525055
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.6 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (979 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,431,306 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The Dover Thrift edition is a highly abridged version. There are entire scenes and characters missing. And the ending is abruptly cut short. Spend the extra money on finding an edition with complete Oscar Wilde text.
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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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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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Format: Paperback
Being in a college-level English class in high school is certainly an interesting situation. While the school year has barely started we've already read The Power of One, Invisible Man, Fountianhead, Beowulf, Dubliners, that satire about eating children, and a couple poems. Of these, only the satire wasn't ridiculously serious and philosophical (well, it was still critical, but funny and weird in its own right). While I really enjoy the novels and stories we've read so far (except Fountainhead, which has become a sort of trigger word for me...just mention Howard Roark and I go off like a smoking gun) I don't think I've ever had so much fun reading a classic piece of literature.

Honestly, AP English Aside and coming from an avid reader and 17 year old, this drama is HILARIOUS. I was practically dying of laughter during class hearing my classmates read the snarky, biting quips of 1895 british aristocrats lying and deceiving each other. The plot is absolutely hilarious, the characters all dreadful in the best ways, and the social critisism well executed and scathing in its farce-driven shell. And for those expecting a drawn out, boring play that only disappoints compared to the glorious promises of some Amazon reviewers...DON'T. The pacing of the play is very fast-paced and witty, moving from one scene to the next with an easy to follow but fast speed, and even to a modern audience it's sure to get a chuckle out of the most firm unbeliever. Reading through the first two acts, the whole class was cracking up laughing and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves thouroughly. It was a nice break between satires about eating babies and old English epics, that's for sure, and I'm definitely going to order my own copy, it was so good.

So overall, 10/10 would read again.
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