The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays
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The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays

4.24 of 5 stars 4.24  ·  rating details  ·  27,630 ratings  ·  258 reviews
The Importance of Being Earnest, Lady Windermere's Fan, A Woman of No Importance, Salome, An Ideal Husband)

Oscar Wilde was already one of the best-known literary figures in Britain when he was persuaded to turn his extraordinary talents to the theatre. Between 1891 and 1895 he produced a sequence of distinctive plays which spearheaded the dramatic renaissance of the 1890s...more
Paperback, 462 pages
Published March 1st 2001 by Penguin Classics (first published 1895)
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"Prism, where is that baby?" demands the damndest dowager in theatre history in OWs farcical masterpiece. Feeling blue ? Reread this comedic milestone for the most preposterous merriment outside of Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit," with a bow to WS Gilbert and Sheridan. Wilde found his playwrighting voice just before The Fall. He turned unreal drawing-room nonsense into Art. Muffins, cucumber sandwiches, a handbag left at Victoria Station and a grande dame who burbles about train schedules : "We ha...more
Dec 12, 2009 Richard rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Richard by: Trevor McCandless
I used to be an inveterate playgoer (one year, 1989 I think, I saw 52 plays).

The action and dialog on stage can be pretty quick. And if you're seeing a play that was written in another time for a different culture, that might be too quick to catch.

For example, the first line of Lady Windermere's Fan is from a butler stepping up to the lady of the house and asking "Is your ladyship at home this afternoon?" Our modern minds would probably surmise from such a question that the butler is asking whet...more
Oscar Wilde is such joyous fun! He makes us look at ourselves in the most ironic and funny ways. Certainly he was a master of satire and in this play, he has presented the characters in what I have come to think of as the stiff British way. I loved that is poked a great deal of fun at the staid Victorian period. Mr Wilde himself was certainly everything else but staid and perhaps in thinking of him, we see a man born before his time.

The play on the words "Earnest" is fun and yet its does point t...more
The Importance of Being Earnest and Lady Windermere's Fan are fun and light reads, they made me smile and laugh out loud, and they were entertaining. I wish there was a little depth to Earnest, especially regarding the ending. It seemed trivial, and I know that it's a satire, but I couldn't get past the easily-fixed Shakespearean resolution.
Salome, on the other hand, was a different read from Wilde. I've read Dorian Gray, short stories, plays, and essays, and Salome falls more in line with the...more
Lady Windermere’s Fan: "Do you want answers?" "I think I'm entitled to it." "You want answers?" "I want the truth!" "You can’t handle the truth!" Switch and repeat.

Salome: "They'll love it in Pomona." Mishima directed it in Japan!

A Woman of No Importance: A bit preachy and hysterical.

An Ideal Husband: "Do you want answers?" "I think I'm entitled to it." "You want answers?" "I want the truth!" "You can’t handle the truth! Oh, wait. It seems that you can." Switch and repeat.

A Florentine Tragedy: I...more
Whoa. I didn’t realize the original versions would be so politically incorrect. Same sharp, shocking wit as ever, though. ("Salome" is the only odd outlier I couldn't get into--no traces of the familiar Wilde there.) I’m pretty sure I would totally have fallen for Oscar if I’d known him.
Alexander Arsov
Oscar Wilde

The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays

Penguin Classics Paperback, 2000.

8vo. xxx, 432 pp. Edited with an Introduction [vii-xxvi], Commentaries and Notes [pp. 364-432] by Richard Allen Cave. Excised scene from The Importance of Being Earnest [pp. 359-363].

First published thus, 2000.


A Note on the Texts
Select Bibliography

Lady Windermere's Fan
A Woman of No Importance
An Ideal Husband
A Florentine Tragedy
The Importance of Being Earnest

Appendix: The excised s...more
I've been involved with "The Importance of Being Earnest" in several theaters, and it always brings me pause since the 2 people who are in love and end up together are first cousins, (?) WTF? Seriously? Evidently that's what happened a lot at the time this play was written. I gives me the creeps, and makes me wonder if this the reason for the term " blue blood" when it comes to the royals? HELL YES!
But Oscar Wilde is known for being one to push the norms of society beyond the limits people expec...more
Azella  Fernández Castañón
Wilde, the master of paradox, has never failed to impress me with his excellent writing. Yet it's been years since I read his classic novel, a dark favourite of mine, "The Picture of Dorian Gray". This novel scared me, moved me, taught me. I loved it even though it got me shivering. So you can imagine the excitement I felt after getting my hands on a lighter and hearty play which recaptured my interest in the world of Wilde. I found "The Importance of Being Earnest" extremely enjoyable to read a...more
Because our October book club is going to be a retreat where we will discuss all three books in the Hunger Games trilogy, we decided to go for something light and airy for September. We chose The Importance of Being Earnest, with the option to not read it at all and just come to book club and enjoy the movie version while eating a selection of British food — cottage pie, scones, cucumber sandwiches (“not available, even for ready money”) tea, etc. The movie version (staring Colin Firth, Rupert E...more
Charity Yoder
I love this book. I mean... there are no words... but I will try. first off, if you don't read this as sarcastic it doesn't come off right. and I've got to say... Wilde is some sort of savant when it comes to comedy, and I appreciate it greatly. however, mixed in is all if these great themes of the times. and its kind if amazing because it comes off in such a way that you don't think about it until a class discussion.

big two thumbs up!!!
Took me ages to read it, but that's no indication of the awesomeness of Wilde's plays. In fact, I think, it took me this long only 'cause one can only take in so much awesomeness at once. The wit, the absurdity and comedy! I'm amazed that very little seems to happen during those plays and yet I was trying to turn those pages as fast as I could without missing any hidden jokes, so that I could find out how each of the plays ends.
Oscar Wilde is one of my favorite writers of all time. His stories are so light and so touchable and written in a very sharp fashion.
In particular, this play is an amazing manifestation of his comic taste. I found my safe laughing out loud several times during the story because of the sarcasm.
Definitely recommend reading this book
Anke Moesinger
Witty, precise and cunning. Excellent 19th century Irish playwright! I recommend "A Woman of No Importance" and "An Ideal Husband" in this collection. I especially enjoy Wilde's views and satirical depictions of upper class society during his time.
Oh my good freakin lord, this man is so witty it is astounding. I thank Mrs Wilde for bringing him into this world. (also this play is great)
"Sir Robert Chitern enters from behind"
Sarah burrows
It's well known within my A level English class that Oscar Wilde is one of my favourite (if not my number one) writers/poets, being so, my teacher leant me his copy of The importance of being Earnest and other plays, to which I was most grateful.
within the book are the plays;
Lady Windermere's Fan
A Woman Of No Importance
An Ideal Husband
The Importance of Being Earnest

I had already read A woman of no importance, An ideal husband and Salomé (from a different collection of Wilde's plays) which...more
3.5 stars. I ended up reading The Importance of being Earnest,, Ideal Husband, and Lady Windemere's Fan. (those 3 are in my version.). Ideal Husband was my favorite of the three. There is an interesting mix of humor, sarcasm and wisdom mixed into these plays.

Like this: Sir Robert Chiltern: "There was your mistake. There was your error. The error all women commit. Why can't you women love us, faults and all? ... We have all feet of clay, women as well as men; but when we men love women, we love k...more
Rowland Bismark
Marriage is of paramount importance in The Importance of Being Earnest, both as a primary force motivating the plot and as a subject for philosophical speculation and debate. The question of the nature of marriage appears for the first time in the opening dialogue between Algernon and his butler, Lane, and from this point on the subject never disappears for very long. Algernon and Jack discuss the nature of marriage when they dispute briefly about whether a marriage proposal is a matter of “busi...more
Min recension på The Importance of Being Earnest finns att läsa i en separat recension.

Jag försökte läsa Lady Windermere's Fan förra året men hade inte riktigt intresset för den då. Jag lade ifrån mig texten och läste något annat. I går tänkte jag däremot att jag skulle göra ett nytt försök och plockade upp den igen. Jag gillar Lady Windermere’s Fan. Det är en typisk historia av Oscar Wilde med allvar och humor blandat i ett. Liksom i de flesta av Wildes verk så lider karaktärerna i Lady Winderm...more
This book included three plays by Wilde: the famous title play; Salome; and Lady Windermere's Fan. I enjoyed all three, but The Importance of Being Earnest was my favorite. It's a tour de force of comedy, misidentification, and love affairs gone astray and represents Oscar Wilde at his wittiest (and that's saying a lot).
The central story is of Jack and Algernon, two friends who each make up a mythical person to get them out of engagements and obligations that they don't want to face. Jack's myt...more
Justin Evans
Sometimes your reading habits look completely nonsensical. Why would I have read any Wilde? Sure, he was a socialist, elitist wit. But why would I like such a thing?

Anyway, I'm glad I got around to reading some of his plays. 'Lady Windemere's Fan' is very clever, and feels to me almost like a mythical allegory: social outsider takes on herself the 'sins' of society. Only the social outsider can do this, because only she is willing to recognize that those sins aren't particularly sinful. Happine...more
"A Woman of No Importance, for all its charm, exposes an aristocratic world that is smug, snobbish and morally bankrupt. An Ideal Husband portrays a glittering diplomatic gathering which is revealed as a masquerade to cover up the shady past of a prominent establishment figure. Lady Windermere's Fan is a brilliant critique of conventional morality. In The Importance of Being Earnest every character is revealed to be leading a hypocritical double life, while Salome and A Florentine Tragedy use hi...more
Of the three plays in this book, I would have to say that I enjoyed "The Importance of Being Earnest" the most. It is a comedic formula seen time and time again. Especially recycled during the golden era of American film. The play--in my opinion--shows Wilde at the paramount of his genius. Which is ironic, for it is often thought of as a "pure comedy", something that is merely meant to entertain. Though like everything one writes, even for aesthetics--that is to say "art for art's sake" it has m...more
Containing five of Wilde's most famous plays, this collection is a great introduction to his work. While I was somewhat familiar with The Importance of Being Ernest I've not seen or read any other of Wilde's plays until now.

I quite enjoyed both Lady Windermere's Fan and A Woman of No Importance but was left a little cold by An Ideal Husband which, while having some flashes of humour, felt much more (melo)dramatic than the others. Reading these three plays in fairly quick succession revealed some...more
Mary Etta
I'm quite sure I read this years ago, too many to recall. Polly recently wrote that she and Christopher had had fun watching the film.

As my last flick for the foreseeable future from netflix I saw the Reese Witherspoon, Colin Firth, et al, version. What a kick! I've been thinking it should be viewed along with the various versions of the film versions of Jane Austen books.

I saw it first in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep as my poor body seemed to be still coming down the mountain...more
Toni King
This book contains four plays: THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, AN IDEAL HUSBAND, SALOME, and LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN. I re-read it to remember the details of EARNEST, but found that I didn't like that play as much as I had remembered liking it. This time around I found that I preferred LADY WINDERMERE instead. IDEAL HUSBAND was much too boring for my taste, but I can appreciate the fact that the crux of the story would have been fascinating and scandalous for the people that would have been viewi...more
I fancy Oscar Wilde for making me chuckle all the way through this play, but mostly for giving me Algernon.
Favorite Algy lines:
"I really don't see anything romantic in proposing. It is very unromantic to be in love. But there is nothing romantic about a definite proposal. Why, one may be accepted. One usually is, I believe. Then the excitement is all over. The very essence of romance is uncertainty. If I ever get married, I'll certainly try to forget the fact."

"The truth is rarely pure and neve...more
I studied The Importance of Being Earnest and An Ideal Husband for high school literature and I still loved them after mass dissections of both plays.

If this doesn't indicate how good these to plays are (that can still be loved after writing multiple essays on the social milieu of Victorian England, it's patriarchal society, aestheticism, the subversive wit, staging/props/costuming/characterisation/suspense of disbelief and all other things relating to these plays and on and on and on)then I do...more
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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
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The Picture of Dorian Gray The Importance of Being Earnest An Ideal Husband The Canterville Ghost Complete Works of Oscar Wilde

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“The very essence of romance is uncertainty.” 4536 likes
“I have always been of opinion that a man who desires to get married should know either everything or nothing.” 99 likes
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