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An Ideal Husband
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Short Story/Novella Collection > An Ideal Husband - February 2017

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message 1: by Bob, Short Story Classics (last edited Feb 01, 2017 05:54AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bob | 4766 comments Mod
An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde is our February 2017 Short Story Read, A Play, Published in 1893, 78 pages.


Pink | 6556 comments I've just found a copy on my shelf, so I'll probably give this a try. I've liked other works by Oscar Wilde, but haven't read him for quite some time. Looking forward to it now :)


Milena | 257 comments It's a good one Pink. I enjoyed it.
Here is a foretaste of it (no spoiler, just a quote) :

"Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike."

This is unmistakably Oscar Wilde. :)


message 4: by Lena (new)

Lena | 300 comments That's a great quote Milena. Is that from this book?


Kathleen | 3544 comments Oh, thank you for that Milena. I'm excited to read this now!


Milena | 257 comments Lena wrote: "That's a great quote Milena. Is that from this book?"

Yes Lena. I like taking notes and quotes when I read a book. I wrote this in my phone. It's impossible to resist with Oscar Wilde.


message 7: by Melanti (last edited Feb 01, 2017 08:16AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Melanti | 2386 comments I read this a couple of days ago and liked it.

Though, IMO, the ideal/idle/idol thing doesn't work as well as the Ernest/earnest puns in The Importance of Being Earnest.


Milena | 257 comments Kathleen wrote: "Oh, thank you for that Milena. I'm excited to read this now!"

It's a great read Kathleen :)
I'm looking forward to discussing it with you all. I love Wilde.


message 9: by Milena (last edited Feb 01, 2017 08:16AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Milena | 257 comments Melanti wrote: "I read this a couple of days ago and liked it.

Though, IMO, the ideal/idle/idol thing doesn't work as well as the Ernest/earnest puns in his other play."


I agree with you Melanti. The Importance of Being Earnest is better then this one but we're always on a high level


Loretta | 2668 comments Melanti wrote: "I read this a couple of days ago and liked it.

Though, IMO, the ideal/idle/idol thing doesn't work as well as the Ernest/earnest puns in his other play."


I also read this play a couple of days ago too and I agree with your comment Melanti. :)


message 11: by Lena (new)

Lena | 300 comments Nice! I'll pick this up later in the month. Still trying to finish January's selections.


message 12: by Neon's (new) - added it

Neon's | 33 comments Looking forward to it, I'm definitely going to read. Most probably it will make me love Oscar Wilde more.


message 13: by Leni (new) - rated it 4 stars

Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 1182 comments I might join in on this. I read all of Oscar Wilde's published work in 2012, and I really love this play. I love the film adaptation too, which isn't always the case. The love interest, played by Minny Driver, has more character there than what is explicit in the play. (Though my favourite Oscar Wilde play would be Lady Windemere's Fan.)


April Munday | 277 comments I was expecting the play to be funnier. There is wit, certainly, and some wry moments, but it deals with some very serious subjects.

My favourite lines are the description of Phipps, Goring's butler: 'The distinction of Phipps is his impassivity. He has been termed by enthusiasts the Ideal Butler. The Sphinx is not so incommunicable. He is a mask with a manner.' Phipps is surely father to both Jeeves and Bunter.


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

So here I am reading along, remarking how incredibly dull this play is (probably means I'm not getting it) till I came across this from Lord Goring:

"You see, it is a very dangerous thing to listen. If one listens one may be convinced; and a man who allows himself to be convinced by an argument is a thoroughly unreasonable person."

If I was drinking milk I would have it coming out of my nose lol.


Missy J (missyj333) I just finished reading this short story/play and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you to the people who nominated and voted for it. I approached this play with zero expectations and found myself laughing a bit too much.

Oscar Wilde is so witty and he really shines through Lord Goring's character the most. I especially liked the scenes between Lord Goring and his father, who calls his son "Sir".

Lord Goring: Well, the fact is, father, this is not my day for talking seriously. I am very sorry, but it is not my day.
Lord Caversham: What do you mean, sir?
Lord Goring: During the Season, father, I only talk seriously on the first Tuesday in every month, from four to seven.



Milena | 257 comments April wrote: "I was expecting the play to be funnier. There is wit, certainly, and some wry moments, but it deals with some very serious."

I agree April. It deals with a bitter subject. I would say it's dramatic, in a funny way.

I think there are some autobiographical aspects: Wilde wrote it in the year 1893. The play was performed in the year 1895, the same year Wilde was arrested for "gross indecency" . He writes in the play: "Sooner or later, we shall all have to pay for what we do." He paid an undeserved price.


message 18: by Leni (new) - rated it 4 stars

Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 1182 comments Oscar Wilde is always satirical and absurd in his humour. I don't think he ever goes for just gags and comedy without an edge.

I'm finding it humorous throughout, and the first thing that made me actually laugh was this comment about the English (from a Frenchman of course):

Vicomte de Nanjac: Yes, they have a wonderful language. It should be more widely known.


message 19: by MKay (new) - rated it 4 stars

MKay | 277 comments I got the Complete Works of Oscar Wilde on Kindle for only 0.99 yesterday. Started this one and moves quickly. I am enjoying it.


message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

I finished it over my (inadvertently longer than usual. oops.) lunch break. Started off slow, but it did get better. First time reading Oscar Wilde and I have to say I did like his wit. Like an English Mark Twain.


message 21: by Leni (new) - rated it 4 stars

Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 1182 comments I just finished reading it. I had forgotten how much codswallop about the nature of men and women it contains. But still highly enjoyable.


Milena | 257 comments Leni wrote: "I just finished reading it. I had forgotten how much codswallop about the nature of men and women it contains. But still highly enjoyable."

I always laugh wholeheartedly when I find them. They are easy laugh. I bet people liked that stuff. Good material to talk the theater manager into accepting the play.
However there's a line from one of the characters that surprised me: "A man's life is of more value than a woman's."


message 23: by Bob, Short Story Classics (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bob | 4766 comments Mod
Leni wrote: "I just finished reading it. I had forgotten how much codswallop about the nature of men and women it contains. But still highly enjoyable."


codswallop-great word, I have no idea how I can use it without people pointing at me, wondering what did he say?


siriusedward (elenaraphael) | 2011 comments The word always takes me to the boat that Hagrid takes Harry on , the very first time, on the way to Diagon Alley...


message 25: by Leni (new) - rated it 4 stars

Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 1182 comments I think I first encountered the word 'codswallop' in the BFG. For the longest time I wasn't sure if it was a real word or not. But it predates Roald Dahl. And it's an excellent word!


message 26: by Milena (last edited Feb 03, 2017 12:14AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Milena | 257 comments Leni wrote: "I think I first encountered the word 'codswallop' in the BFG. For the longest time I wasn't sure if it was a real word or not. But it predates Roald Dahl. And it's an excellent word!"


Leni, I had to look in the dictionary to understand your comment. But I guess it's not a frequently used word. I found: word of uncertain etymology. "Beer made with fish"? Hence rubbish?

I like this word. It sounds funny. But I'm afraid it might sound rude to a native english speaker.

For example, if instead of saying "I don't agree", I say "Hey! Your post about Oscar Wilde is a load of codswallop", I might receive a free lesson on english swear words in return.

Uhm... I think I'm not going to to try that. :-D


message 27: by Leni (new) - rated it 4 stars

Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 1182 comments Ah, Milena, yes it's a very British and old-fashioned sort of exclamation. Don't say it to someone's face unless you mean to engage them in a round of fisticuffs.


message 28: by Leni (new) - rated it 4 stars

Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 1182 comments Milena wrote: "However there's a line from one of the characters that surprised me: "A man's life is of more value than a woman's.""

Yes! We need to talk about this! But I'll hide it in a spoiler, since it will be... a major spoiler.

(view spoiler)


message 29: by Phil (new) - rated it 3 stars

Phil Jensen | 626 comments I finished Act 1 this morning. As always, I appreciate Wilde's writing, but I'm connecting with it less than usual. The doings of high society in the 1890s are hard for me to get excited about.

I was also getting that Russian novel vibe of confusion over all the characters with similar names, so I watched part of the movie last night, and it helped a lot. I'm still not getting a lot out of it, though.


message 30: by Nix (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nix | 112 comments Leni wrote: "Yes! We need to talk about this! But I'll hide it in a spoiler,..."

I think this is Wilde having fun with and at the expense of his characters. I mean, it's a comedy from start to finish. The whole plot only works, because the characters are over the top and silly. Even though there are some serious issues raised in the play, those issues can't actually be treated seriously, because they are in the hands of a bunch of fools.

(view spoiler)


April Munday | 277 comments Milena wrote: "Leni wrote: "I think I first encountered the word 'codswallop' in the BFG. For the longest time I wasn't sure if it was a real word or not. But it predates Roald Dahl. And it's an excellent word!"
..."


Codswallop is not in the least rude. Not now, anyway. It just means nonsense or rubbish. It's most commonly used in the expression "What a load of old codswallop."


April Munday | 277 comments Pam wrote: "I finished it over my (inadvertently longer than usual. oops.) lunch break. Started off slow, but it did get better. First time reading Oscar Wilde and I have to say I did like his wit. Like an Eng..."

Wilde was Irish.


message 33: by [deleted user] (new)

Dang, I should probably have known that.


April Munday | 277 comments Pam wrote: "Dang, I should probably have known that. "

It's not obvious and you can't tell from his surname, which is apparently Dutch.


Milena | 257 comments Leni wrote: "Milena wrote:"Yes! We need to talk about this! But I'll hide it in a spoiler,..."

I follow your example and I hide my thoughts in a spoiler.

(view spoiler)


message 36: by Milena (last edited Feb 04, 2017 01:23AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Milena | 257 comments April wrote: "Milena wrote: "Leni wrote: "I think I first encountered the word 'codswallop' in the BFG. For the longest time I wasn't sure if it was a real word or not. But it predates Roald Dahl. And it's an ex..."

Thank you Leni and April.
That word is in my personal English dictionary now.
:)


message 37: by Cindy (new)

Cindy  | 58 comments I just finished and glad I read it for the second time. You have to like Miss Chevelery as a villain. She knew how to get what she wanted. Talk about the past coming back to bite you in the backside.


Nente | 772 comments I've just read this one, and I'm afraid my opinion of Wilde's plays stays unchanged. Every witty voice in the play is Wilde himself dressed up in different costumes and wigs. which makes the dialogue a bit monotonous. The plot is rather weak, the characters' actions don't tie in too well with what their personalities are meant to be. Another disappointment.


message 39: by Phil (new) - rated it 3 stars

Phil Jensen | 626 comments Finished.

I agree with Leni about how the plot ties up in a too-convenient way, and Nente about how the characters all talk like Wilde clones. The thing for me that carries the play is the central idea about an ideal spouse vs. a real spouse.

I'd like to look a little more at the gender roles, because I think they're a little topsy-turvy. (view spoiler)


message 40: by Leni (new) - rated it 4 stars

Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 1182 comments Phil wrote: "Finished.

I agree with Leni about how the plot ties up in a too-convenient way, and Nente about how the characters all talk like Wilde clones. The thing for me that carries the play is the central..."


Ah, yes. What I also found very noticeable was that women are accused of putting men on a pedestal and worshiping them, and that they are not able to cope with any flaw in their husbands. Whereas men love women with all their flaws.

And I just can't help but thinking that, at that time especially, 1) Women were bound to stay by their man, regardless. Their fate was tied to their husbands. So they would both be more apt to seek perfection and to forgive flaws, having no other choice. And 2) Women weren't really allowed to have flaws, or rather, they carefully cultivated the right kinds of flaws that would endear them to their husbands. So basically, yes, I think Nix is right that they are all a bunch of fools. They are all utterly absurd creatures, and Lord Goring manages them by putting on whatever hat (read: tone and argument) that suits the moment.


Kathleen | 3544 comments Leni wrote: "Ah, Milena, yes it's a very British and old-fashioned sort of exclamation. Don't say it to someone's face unless you mean to engage them in a round of fisticuffs."

Leni, your wit rivals our author's. :-) Your codswallop word was new to me too, but it does perfectly fit the discussion of the nature of men and women in this play. I'm still looking for a way to fit fisticuffs into conversation though ...


Kathleen | 3544 comments I read this today, and while it was fun, I enjoyed The Picture of Dorian Gray much more. With that one there was story and banter, and with this there was mostly banter, but it may just be that I'm not doing well with plays so far this year. I would actually love to see this performed, especially with Minnie Driver!

I found Lady Chiltern the most unbelievable character. Could she really be married to someone and idolize them that much?


Loretta | 2668 comments Kathleen wrote: "I read this today, and while it was fun, I enjoyed The Picture of Dorian Gray much more. With that one there was story and banter, and with this there was mostly banter, but it may just..."

I agree Kathleen! I loved The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest. I wasn't enamored with this play.


message 44: by Phil (new) - rated it 3 stars

Phil Jensen | 626 comments Leni wrote: "Ah, yes. What I also found very noticeable was that women are accused of putting men on a pedestal and worshiping them, and that they are not able to cope with any flaw in their husbands. Whereas men love women with all their flaws. "

And it's usually women who are put on the pedestal. One of the things I liked best about the play was the role reversal, and I was disappointed when it switched back at the end. It ended up being less subversive than The Importance of Being Earnest or Picture of Dorian Gray, which is not what I'd expect from this author.


message 45: by Milena (last edited Feb 05, 2017 11:49PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Milena | 257 comments Kathleen wrote: "I read this today, and while it was fun, I enjoyed The Picture of Dorian Gray much more. With that one there was story and banter, and with this there was mostly banter, but it may just..."

Yes! I loved The Picture of Dorian Gray.
I also think An Ideal Husband would be fun to see performed


message 46: by Katy, New School Classics (new) - rated it 3 stars

Katy (kathy_h) | 9164 comments Mod
Slow starting for me in the first couple of acts. Loved Act III and now onto Act IV.


message 47: by Sara, Old School Classics (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sara (phantomswife) | 4479 comments Mod
Fun for me, as a Wilde work always is. I love his wit and don't mind at all that he puts it in the mouths of all his characters. It is Theater of the Absurd before such a thing existed.


message 48: by Katy, New School Classics (new) - rated it 3 stars

Katy (kathy_h) | 9164 comments Mod
I love his stage directions too and how he describes his characters in those.


Jolene (nolifemama) | 5 comments This was an enjoyable read. Very entertaining. I'm curious if there is a good movie adaptation.


April Munday | 277 comments Jolene wrote: "This was an enjoyable read. Very entertaining. I'm curious if there is a good movie adaptation."

The film starring Rupert Everett and Jeremy Northam is quite good.


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