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The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays

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4.25  ·  Rating details ·  47,209 ratings  ·  600 reviews
Combining epigrammatic brilliance and shrewd social observation, the works collected in Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays are edited with an introduction, commentaries and notes by Richard Allen Cave in Penguin Classics.

'To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness'

The Importance of Being Earnest is a
...more
Paperback, 431 pages
Published May 25th 2000 by Penguin Classics (first published 1898)
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Average rating 4.25  · 
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Richard
Apr 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
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Sketchbook
Dec 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: currently
"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
Lucie
Oct 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
3.5 stars

I love Oscar Wilde so much and I’m so glad I finally ended up reading his most famous plays, they were so ironic and funny, I also adored the social satire he did. I’d love to see them on stage, it must be amazing.

The Importance of Being Earnest, 4/5 stars
Lady Windermere’s Fan, 4/5 stars
Salomé, 3/5 stars
A Woman of No Importance, 3.5/5 stars
An Ideal Husband, 3.5/5 stars
Casey
Apr 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult, favorites, classics
So hilarious!

There's this:
“How you can sit there, calmly eating muffins when we are in this horrible trouble, I can’t make out. You seem to me to be perfectly heartless."

"Well, I can’t eat muffins in an agitated manner. The butter would probably get on my cuffs. One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them."

"I say it’s perfectly heartless your eating muffins at all, under the circumstances.”


And This:

“To be natural is such a very difficult pose to keep up.”

AND THIS:
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Nadja
The Importance of Being Earnest
The humour, the social satire, the banters, simply brilliant! [06.10.2019, 5 stars]

A Florentine Tragedy
Short play with a shocking twist at the end. [11.10.2019, 3 stars]

Salomé
Didn‘t like it that much. Was exhausting to read because of its old traditional language and style. The story itself okay with another twist at the end. (For people who don‘t know the bible that good as myself). [The setting however fitted as I’m on holiday in Cyprus. 12.10.2019, 2 stars]

Lady
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Tatevik Najaryan
I don't read plays. Maybe I am the only human being who hasn't read Shakespeare. I tried. Honesty. When I was a teenager, decided to read Romeo and Juliet. Well, teenager+R&J, quite a good start. I got irritated by Romeo just in the middle of the book and left it. Then I started Hamlet. I don't even remember why I left it.
I hated plays and was getting confused in the list of maybe 20 people presented at the front page of the play. Hated this theatrical long monologues and conversations of 10 peo
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Vishy
Jan 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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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Marialyce
Jun 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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Luís
In The Importance of Being Ernest, Oscar Wilde revisits and revitalizes the long theatrical tradition of the quiproquo, I would say "Italian style". It is a light and lively comedy, as were its predecessors in the Commedia dell Arte, but where the harlequins are English dandies and where the acid lines are more reminiscent of Chekhov than Goldoni.
You have understood that throughout this comedy in four acts, Wilde will play on the ambiguity of this word. Because, the two main protagonists, Jack a
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Lisa
Jul 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, classics, plays
4.5.
Was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed all three of these stories!
Vicki Cline
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics2018, drama
I really enjoyed the title play. Wilde likes to make fun of the upper class, showing them as rather silly. I especially liked the two butlers. Algernon's man Lane had the perfect response for everything, coming to his master's rescue more than once. I think he might have been the smartest character in the play.

I didn't like the other plays as much. I had a hard time distinguishing Lady A, Duchess B, Mrs. C and Colonel D in some of them. It probably works better to see the plays performed rather
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Zan
Feb 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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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Jenny
Mar 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
David
Mar 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: big-white-square
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
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nadia | notabookshelf
what can i SAY. this is Oscar Wilde. of course this was GREAT

did not read A Woman of No Importance but i definitely shall. the rest were a fucking delight in their own unique way, but my favourite has gotta be The Importance of Being Earnest. i mean, the pun alone deserves all the love and praise.
in conclusion, sir Wilde sure was a fucking bastard, but he definitely knew what he was doing. cheers.
Yossor Jamal
Nov 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I am glad that sir Oscar lived up to his reputation
Talitha
Oct 17, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: klassiekers
The Importance of Being Earnest 4*
Lady Windermere's fan 3*
Salomé 2*
A Woman of No Importance 3*
An Ideal Husband 3*
Veena Soujanya
Apr 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, drama
The first thing that came to my mind after reading the plays is "how did I not read them till now?". These are the most enchanting and beautiful plays by Oscar Wilde.

The book had three plays.

1.Salom'e
Based on a tale from New Testament, Salome is the story of an infamous woman who by her erotic "Dance of the Seven Veils", seduces her stepfather who promises anything she asks for.She wishes for the head of Jokanaan, a Prophet who rejected her love on a silver plate, as her gift. In spite of the K
...more
The Book Queen
May 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, favourites
Witty, very intelligent, sharp and very funny: a wonderful collection. Absolute classic.
Mary ♥
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faves
Some classics contain so progressive ideas! I am so glad I read this ❤️
Lauren Kammerdiener
"I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train."


Since this is a collection of plays, this is thus a collective review. Each play is individually rated. Overall rating is based on the average of the individual ratings.

Lady Windermere's Fan
rating: four / five stars
I loved the complexities of this one, the dynamics between the characters, the unexpected twists. Loads of wit and loads of misunderstandings, the perfect formula for a Wilde play.
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Hayley
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oscar Wilde knows how to write a really good play. The introduction to my Signet Classic edition picks up on this by analysing the play’s subtitle “A Trivial Comedy for Serious People,” and its inverse “A Serious Comedy for Trivial People” (Barnet xxx). Just as Algernon is “serious about Bunburying,” Wilde is serious at “constructing a play” (Barnet xxvii) [See my footnote 1]. He is a serious playwright in the sense that he is a masterful one, and The Importance of Being Earnest has all the elem ...more
julia
Apr 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4.5 Stars.

It took me a while to finish this book, but only because I was separated from it, not because I didn’t want to dive right into it! I really enjoyed every one of Wilde‘s plays in this collection immensely - he has a way with words, a talent of turning phrases that I adore! I can’t wait to read more of his work. Too bad there isn’t too much of it all in all.
Genesis
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really, really loved this.
I wasn't sure I was going to like this but, damn, did Wilde prove me wrong.
This was witty, sarcastic and such good writing.
Liked all the three plays and plan to read some more written by​ him.

*Also, thank you Oscar for allowing me to realize I am a confirmed Bunburyist and have naturally performed some Bunburying.
book.to.frame
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this!
Nimra Saeed
Jun 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
loved this collection. i got to read so much Wilde because of it this month, it's one of my most prized possessions now.
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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K.
I have an undying adoration for The Importance of Being Earnest. It's the most fabulously ridiculous play, and I can't help but giggle every time I read it. It's hilarious from start to finish, from lines about handbags to Bunburying to aggressive muffin eating. Also, I always end up wanting muffins after I read this, and if it weren't absolutely pissing with rain right now, I would walk the three blocks to the supermarket to buy a packet of (English) muffins.

The other plays compiled in this vol
...more
Rea K
Jul 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was bored one day over the summer and read the other plays in this book. We were only required to read The Importance of Being Earnest in English, but I read the other ones, which is unusual because I don't really read plays.
I plan to reread this some day. Oh, my very own Ernest, you're in a box somewhere. I really don't know where.
kelly
Mar 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
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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 ...more

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