The Importance of Being Earnest
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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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
Such a good play! I needed this for my school's essay. Highly recommend for a good laugh. Oscar Wilde best Satire play to ridicule the Upper Class in the Victoria Era. Pure Genius!Published 10 months ago by Brittany Bjornson
"Light hearted, inane, and the cause of a few giggles" best describes this well known play by Oscar Wilde. Read morePublished on July 20 2012 by Ronald W. Maron
I haven't even started reading the book. The small print really put me off from reading.Published on Oct. 27 2009 by G. Su
Recently many of the plays by Oscar Wilde have enjoyed a move to the silver screen. And done so with great praise. "Importance of Being Earnest" is no different. Read morePublished on March 30 2007 by Bilgewal
Wilde's play has taken a turn for the worse in the last 20 years. It appears that people have forgotten how to act comedy. Read morePublished on Aug. 18 2003