Mark's Reviews > The Importance of Being Earnest

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
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's review
Sep 11, 2007

it was ok
bookshelves: plays
Read in January, 1998

I think my take on Oscar Wilde plays is this: He is a man who wrote mildly amusing (really -- when was the last time you guffawed during a Wilde play?) plays in which the Wilde character always said wittily epigrammatic things which no casual partygoer could ever pull off on the spur of the moment. I believe I read someplace that Wilde himself would create and then practice these epigrams for hours in preparation for sprinkling them into conversations.

In other works, when characters are impossibly witty or erudite, we scoff at the writer's artificiality. In Wilde, we call it genius. Why?
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10/05/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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message 1: by Mark (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:27PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Mark It's not that I don't enjoy Wilde, or that I don't appreciate the enormous injustice that was done to him, it's just that I think that arch, witty repartee is something that makes me smile more than laugh out loud. But that's true of a lot of comedy, for me.

message 2: by Mark (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:27PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Mark Maybe this could be the look you gave me:


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Wilde is tediously unfunny. It always reminds me of upper-middle-class people teasing each other with overtly witty and underly funny comments made while their pinkies stick into the air and they pull the muscles of their face down for maximum drollness.

message 4: by Mark (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:27PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Mark All I got from Tracy was a stern look. I don't know what she'll impose on you

message 5: by Carol (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:27PM) (new)

Carol I tend to agree w/Mark, but devil's advocate here: wasn't that all they could do to rebel, was being scathingly witty? gosh, I would hate to have had to live in that time as an upper-middle-class person...Such rules of etiquette would have led me to do something truly rash - I am not a witty person.

Speaking of which, anyone watch PBS' "Manor House" - that was pretty darned interesting w/regard to what was and wasn't allowable.

message 6: by Bryan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:27PM) (new)

Bryan Brendan may have fit right in to 19th century society, but NOT as a polite yet scathing critic a la Wilde. He would've been an anarchist bomb-thrower.

message 7: by Anna (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:27PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Anna I had a big smile on my face the whole time I read this, with subtexts and undertones and Wilde essentially dissing the whole upperclass society that never fully accepted him.

But I agree with Carol, I would probably have thrown the fine china into the wall at some point. I detest dainty tea-cups with rosepatterns.

message 8: by Kelly (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:28PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kelly ... and in addition to Guy Fawkes Day, Britain would have had an additional Brendan Howard Day? Hey, more holidays based on bombs sounds good to me.

message 9: by Anna (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:28PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars


You made me laugh out loud with that third one!

Kaaren Nafar Thank you for not liking the play. I hated it.
His only good work is The Picture of Dorian Gray. He has nothing else worth reading.

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