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The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays (Lady Windermere's Fan, A Woman of No Importance, Salome, An Ideal Husband, The Importance of Being Earnest)
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The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays (Lady Windermere's Fan, A Woman of No Importance, Salome, An Ideal Husband, The Importance of Being Earnest)

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4.3 of 5 stars 4.30  ·  rating details  ·  6,662 ratings  ·  110 reviews
Wilde's drama combines epigrammatic brilliance and shrewd social observation. This collection of his plays includes 'Lady Windermere's Fan', 'Salome', 'A Woman of No Importance', 'An Ideal Husband' and 'The Importance of Being Earnest'.
Paperback, Oxford World's Classics, 368 pages
Published June 1st 2008 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1895)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Vishy
I haven’t read a play in a while – I think the last play I read was ‘Homecoming’ by Harold Pinter a few years back. So, I decided to read a few plays this year. The first one I got hold of was ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ by Oscar Wilde. I have always admired Oscar Wilde’s wit and humour and so I was really looking forward to reading his most famous play. I finished reading it a couple of days back. Here is what I think.

What I think

‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ is about two friends John
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Zan
I wrote my masters thesis on Wilde's society plays so this text was something like my Bible for a year. Wilde's genius lays not just in his wit but also in his undermining of the social structure he wants so desperately to belong to even as he knows he never will. I think his first two society plays are underrated as I think some of his best drawing room twaddle occurs in A Woman of No Importance. A full act of nearly no action is absolute genius. Many brilliant lunatics.

3.3.11
I just read Lady
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Mitchell Hahn-Branson
It breaks down like this:

Lady Windermere's Fan: 3 stars
An Ideal Husband: 4 stars
The Importance of Being Earnest: 5 stars

That's the chronological order in which Wilde wrote them and the order in which I recommend reading them. It actually made me kind of giddy to read all three in just over a week and see how Wilde's playwriting improved by an order of magnitude with each play. Lady Windermere is a rather silly melodrama with some of Wilde's funniest lines lightly sprinkled throughout; An Ideal H
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Oscar Gonzalez
Este libro abarca las 4 obras más importantes de Wilde, o aparentemente, las que tuvieron mayor éxito. Habiéndolas leído, no puedo mas que desear verlas en teatro, pero eso resulta imposible en la práctica. Muchos diálogos ágiles, brillantes. Los personajes como Henry Wotton de El retrato de Dorian Gray se multiplican: hombres y mujeres con un enorme cinismo llenan con aforismos de fina ironía las escenas, siempre ambientadas en la aristocracia británica. Las primeras cuatro obras tienen todo ...more
Jeni Enjaian
I have to place this disclaimer at the outset of my review. I am not a huge fan of reading plays. (Now that I think about it and add plays to the list, I really primarily enjoy works of non-fiction--usually history--and full length novels. Nothing wrong with that, right?)

To the review of the book itself:

I enjoyed the first play (also the title play) "The Importance of Being Earnest" the most. This is likely due to the fact that I have likely read it before and am familiar (from other references)
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Sebastian Claici
Fantastic fun, and filled with Wilde's highly effectual satire of societal modes and manners.
Casey
Edges out Ernest Saves Christmas as the finest edition in the Ernest series. Vern does not appear.
Shea
It's almost impossible to not love The Importance of Being Earnest. Nearly 120 years since it was written and first performed, it is still one of the funniest plays in existence. There is actually a point to it -- like my reading material of last week, E.M. Forster's A Room with a View, the play humorously skewers the emphasis of the Victorian upper classes on maintaining the appearance of moral uprightness -- but Earnest is an exercise in wit and pure silliness first, and a social commentary se ...more
Ally
This collection offers newly edited texts of Lady Windermere's Fan, A Woman of No Importance, Salome, An Ideal Husband, and, arguably the greatest farcical comedy in English, The Importance of Being Earnest. I bought this collection of plays primary as it was one of the texts in my class and secondly because I've never read/watched any of Oscar Wilde's plays.

I've only read An Ideal Husband, so this review will only be about An Ideal Husband and it's going to be an extremely short review, as I di
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Arti
This review and rating refer to The Importance of Being Earnest only.

Though written in 1894, Wilde's work is surprisingly modern. Subtitled "A Trivial Comedy for Serious People", it is a mashup of mistaken identities, social satire, biting ironies, and one-liners worthy of our late-night talk shows.

You can finish the breezy eighty-some pages in one sitting, but don't read it in public. You don't want to be mistaken. To most people, only a lunatic would LOL alone without a bluetooth hanging on hi
...more
Kami
My Thoughts on The Importance of Being Earnest:

- The movie adaption of this was kinda corny, but I found the play quite humorous! I liked it a lot better!

- Algernon is funny. He is very clever and witty. Sometimes he can be a bit egotistical, but I like his character.

- Cecily is such a dreamer! I can't believe she isn't embarrassed by some of the things she has in her diary. I would never let anyone read my journal, let alone a diary like the one Cecily keeps.

- Jack and Algernon's bickering is
...more
Kingsleyk
The Important of Being Earnest is the most famous composition by Oscar Wilde. It is as thought provoking as The Picture of Dorian Gray but exceeds the latter. It attacks the conventional value of nineteenth Century England, expecailly the view to love, in a humourous and light-hearted way. Whereas The Picture of Dorian Gray sends chill down my spine when I was reading. The subtle evilness and malice that evolves from the pursuit of beauty and happiness, which gradually changes the pure, beautifu ...more
Erica
Play on posing as someone else who doesn't exist. Jack "Ernest," an orphan, uses the pseudonym "Ernest" to come to town as often as he likes. Algernon has a invalid friend "Bunbury" whom he goes to visit in the country to escape from invitations he doesn't want to fulfill.

Jack proposes to Algernon's cousin, Gwendolyn, who admits that she loves him primarily because of his name "Ernest" and couldn't marry him if his name was anything else. Thus, Jack tries to kill off his imaginary brother Ernes
...more
Nicole
It took me a long time to get through all of the plays, probably because of the timing (final exams and holiday parties).
Each one of these plays was unique.
The first one (The Importance of Being Earnest) was very funny. It was nice start to the set of plays because it really introduced me to Wilde's style. I don't quite remember all of the details because I read this one back in November.
Lady Windermere's Fan was good too, and I feel like I should describe as "scandalous".
A Woman of No Importan
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Julia
All five of Oscar Wilde’s most famous plays in one handy-dandy volume: Lady Windermere's Fan, A Woman of No Importance, An Ideal Husband, Salome, and, of course, The Importance of Being Earnest, easily the best of the bunch. It’s a comedy of manners about two well-to-do ne’er-do-wells who must both pretend to be the same fictitious character, Ernest Worthing, in order to successfully woo their respective sweethearts. Because a girl can’t trust a man if he isn’t Ernest, right? Yes, it’s a silly p ...more
Juan David
Oscar Wilde is better known not only for being a homosexual, but regardless of that, for his amazing usage of wit in his plays and his novels. Comedy as understood today may perhaps not be equal to comedy as it was understood by Oscar and Victorian society in the 1800s. But whatever the differences may be, Oscar Wilde's masterpiece "The Importance of Being Earnest" stands as one of the most ironic and witty plays of the English canon. Most apparent are his references to codes of domesticity and ...more
Ric
What I read contains Salome, Lady Windermere's Fan, and The Importance of Being Earnest, in that order.

It was mentioned that The Importance of Being Earnest is considered to be the universal favorite for Wilde's plays. I beg to differ as I like Salome the most followed by Lady Windermere's Fan. Nonetheless, Being Earnest is not bad and it gives a good reminder that once upon a time, comedy was seen as an artistic expression. Nowadays, comedies are full of frequently-used tropes and are rarely ar
...more
Rachael
I wish Wilde had dedicated more of his career to novels, as I prefer novels to plays generally. Though none of these plays reach the heights that The Picture of Dorian Gray does, they are all uniquely delightful. Wilde maintains his level of wit in these plays, but does not quite convey as much meaning behind each word as he does in Dorian Gray. Though each play has similar settings and themes, each has a very different plot, which I appreciated. My favorite was An Ideal Husband, the characters ...more
Cheryl Gill
Have seen the play both on stage and I believe in a movie once upon a time. Great fun to read. I love stories from the 1930's. The country was in a depression and these plays, movies and many musicals helped to elevate the mood of the country. Movies and plays were a form of escape. And most people could afford to go to a movie back then, even the very poor. Oscar Wilde is a genius and I loved the read.
Dana
I really enjoyed reading this play. It was pretty funny at parts. It is a lot easier to read than Shakespeare since it was first preformed in 1895.
Madeline
I forgot how conventional Wilde's morality is. Perhaps that's why The Importance of Being Earnest is (supposedly) the most enduring - it deals least with explicit morality, and most with absurd verbal sparring and gymnastics. (What really nails his coffin shut for me, why despite the five stars and my willingness to attend productions of his plays, I actually cannot love him, is his vested interest in impressing everybody else by how much more X he is than they are.)

Have now seen three of these
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Rachel Brand
Read for:
Sutton Trust Summer School, July 2008
EN2004: Drama: Reading and Performance, 2011

July 2008: I watched the BBC dramatisation of this play years ago, and it was obviously extremely accurate to the original as I could actually visualise the scenes in my head while I read this. It was very amusing, but made me wonder whether Wilde reversed everything (e.g. trivial issues were very important and vice versa) to make a point and wind people up, or whether he really did have that sort of view a
...more
Jose Grateron
If there's just one Oscar Wilde play you will ever read, make sure it's Salomé.
John Jackson
Witty and quick, these plays are unrivaled in their dialogue. It just doesn't get much better than this.
Jordan
4 Stars for Lady Windermere's Fan and The Improtance of Being Earnest. Love them both.
2 and 1/2 Stars for Salome. I found it highly repetative and slightly annoying. If I never read "You shouldn't look at her. You look at her too much. You shouldn't look at her." ever again, it will be too soon.
Brette Chapin
The Importance of Being Earnest - 5 stars
Lady Windermere's Fan - 3 stars
A Woman of No Importance - 4 stars
An Ideal Husband - 3 stars
Salome - 1 star
Bernadette
This book was nothing but a joy to read. Wilde has such a clever way of writing that although the characters are theatrically improved they are still relatable. I especially found the relationship between Cecily and Gwendolyn to be the best example of a female friendship I have ever seen. One moment they are the best of friends the next they hate each other. All in all The Importance of Being Earnst is a classic tale of love and mistaken identity but is done with a light hearted perspective on h ...more
A.R. Voss
Oscar Wilde said “I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.” And for that I have all the respect in the world for this author. The Importance... is by far one of the wittiest plays that I have read. It is even translates better on stage than on paper. If you get a chance to read this play and see a good production of the play, do not hesitate. otherwise you would be involved in the worst Bunburys of them all.
Masina
too funny! loved it
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Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish playwright, poet and author of numerous short stories and one novel. Known for his biting wit, and a plentitude of aphorisms, he became one of the most successful playwrights of the late Victorian era in London, and one of the greatest celebrities of his day. Several of his plays continue to be widely performed, especially The Importance of Being E ...more
More about Oscar Wilde...
The Picture of Dorian Gray The Importance of Being Earnest The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays   An Ideal Husband The Canterville Ghost

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“Actions are the first tragedy in life, words are the second. Words are perhaps the worst. Words are merciless. . .” 179 likes
“Well, I don't like your clothes. You look perfectly ridiculous in them. Why on earth don't you go up and change? It's perfectly childish to be in mourning for a man who is actually staying a whole week with you in your house as a guest. I call it grotesque.” 15 likes
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