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The Importance of Being Earnest

4.4 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Yestermorrow Inc (August 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1567231047
  • ISBN-13: 978-1567231045
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 14.6 x 22.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews
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Product Description

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 Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on Sept. 25 2005
Format: Audio CD
Over 15 years ago I sent my parents a tape of this famous play in which Gielgud and Edith Evans performed (the best version I know of). The packaging was lost and now we have just a remnant of the original tape. We have been searching for years to find this recording on tape or CD. This is not it! This edition by Naxos is poor. The background hiss and crackle overwhelm the dialogue. Occasionally the sound of the actors fades. The text of Wilde's play is incomplete (examples include cut lines about: rupees; dentists and extraction; brothers and practice marriage proposals). Even the date of the performance is muddled: 1951 according to the CD but 1952 according to the package. A CD sure to disappoint all who know this play.
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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: Mass Market Paperback
Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest," is a superb comedy that will keep you wondering what could possibly happen next. Wilde manages to keep the readers entertained while at the same time keeping their feet on the ground. The use of the "old" language helps the readers identify with the characters. The characters themselves constantly have you laughing at their absurd antics. You never know what lie is going to pop up next and you are continually wondering how the characters are going to get out of the pickle they've gotten themselves into. The constant twisting of the plot keeps the reader happy, excited, and surprised. The different settings keep it interesting and the steady flow of new characters keep a person guessing who really is being "earnest." The dialogue is truly inspired and the choice to have the words "play" on each other manage to keep the play flowing. Oscar Wilde's play is truly brilliant and I would recommend this play to anyone who enjoys a good laugh.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Here is a rare thing -- a comedy that is enough in and of itself. It is funny-- genuinely funny, without being naughty or "sophisticated" or cynical, without being overly goofy, without being sad at the same time, or profound, or stupid. It is light without making you wish it was deeper or think maybe it is and you missed it somehow.
I was forced to read a fair number of comedies throughout English lit classes, and my clearest memory was that most jokes, though alive on stage, are dead on the page. Even in Shakespeare, often. Here, though, I really was laughing, enjoying the wordiness and wit. Makes me really wish and hope to see it performed someday.

The word that comes to mind is pure. Like if there really are Platonic forms, essences of things, this is the platonic form of comedy. Or at least approaches it more closely than anything else I've ever read.
It's simple. It's short. It's beautiful -- in that it is fully formed within itself, wanting nothing, leaving nothing. It's a classic.
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That's right - if it isn't the single wittiest, funniest play ever, it's as close as you can get. Oscar Wilde had a great talent for dialogue and writing, but the real fun comes in the ingenious plotting and the side-splitting comments. "The Importance of Being Earnest" is absolutely filled with insightful, humorous barbs that take jabs at society - you'll literally be laughing out loud every page.
Not only is the play brilliantly ironic and witty, it's quite cheerful and good-natured. The characters are likable, the plot never takes itself too seriously, and the ending is happy. It seems that Wilde knew exactly what he wanted: to write a light-hearted, amusing play without serious overtones, and he succeeded wildly. This isn't to say that he sacrificed any literary qualities, as the play is recognized for the marvelous writing, but it is considerably more fun and entertaining than many other literary works.
In sum, Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest" is a classic in every sense of the word, and it's tremendously fun to read. I can't recommend any comedy more highly.
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