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The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (1990-07-01)

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  • Dover Publications (1752)
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Review Text

  • By OtherWeis on June 17, 2016

    The poor review is for the edition and not the material. Avoid this Smith and Brown edition. As with many plays that are old enough to be in the public domain, there are numerous editions, some better than others. In fact, anyone with a Xerox machine can make their own edition of this play, and this is pretty close to that. This is the worst edition I have ever seen of a script. The formatting is ponderous and poorly done. Character names are barely differentiated from the text that they speak; Stage directions are often buried in the text with little to differentiate them. In addition, the text goes so close to the edges that one sometime needs to break open the binding just to read it. There is not introduction, no annotations, nothing of interest to make up for the fact that this edition is annoying to read. If this were the only edition available, that'd be one thing, but there are so many options. I went to a bookstore and picked up this edition:The Importance of Being EarnestIt's fine. It's easy to read. It has introcutory material and other frills if you're into that sort of thing, and it's cheaper. Get that one or some other, not this one.

  • By Aquila Chrysaetos on August 4, 2017

    Of Wilde's plays I have only seen The Importance of Being Earnest which is wonderfully witty and ridiculous. Collected in this volume are the title play along with Lady Windermere's Fan, A Woman of No Importance, An Ideal Husband and Salome. The first four are light entertainment filled with witty dialogue. The last, Salome, is macabre and dark. I was curious about that one because of the hubbub over it being a play based on scripture but laced sexual overtones. I'm glad I read it because its not something I would want to go to see like the other four but in Wilde's defense, the Herods were a nasty, incestuous and murderous bunch and he does not do injustice to John the Baptist or Christ. The most disturbing part about the play is when Salome kisses the severed head of the prophet. She does this because he refused her advances while alive.The illustrations in the book are the originals done by Aubrey Beardsley and they are only in Salome. I liked his illustrations in Macmillan's The Happy Prince and Other Stories but I found the ones for Salome nasty, grotesque and bordering on porn. Not to my taste at all.The rest of the book still merits my five star rating both in content and quality.Macmillan's Collectors library editions are well made beautiful pocket sized hard covers. There are two other Oscar Wilde books in the collection: Picture of Dorian Gray and The Happy Prince and Other Stories.

  • By Brohovsky on January 16, 2016

    It would be all too easy to dismiss this play as a light romantic comedy. Although it is about a series of near thwarted romances – the stuff of a million ‘chick-flicks’ and romantic comedies going back as far as the eye can see in drama – this is also something much, much more. It is also a delightfully amusing commentary on human sexual relations, the English class system and (much more importantly) a perfect mirror on the amusing excesses of human selfishness. In fact, some of the best lines in the play, and the funniest lines in the play, highlight our near infinite capacity to love ourselves. To quote only a few and without hardly looking:“If you are not too long, I will wait for you all my life.”“Oh! Not at all, Gwendolen. I am very fond of being looked at.”“If I am occasionally overdressed, I make up for it by being always immensely over-educated.”“I don’t play accurately – anyone can play accurately – but I play with wonderful expression.”“You see, it (her diary) is simply a very young girl’s record of her thoughts and impressions, and consequently meant for publication.”The other terribly interesting thing in this play is the role of family. Not only are the families quite dysfunctional, even when people know who their parents are, but the title character is about as confused about how he fits into the complex world of family relations as it is possible to make someone. The thing that makes the line about the handbag quite so funny is that this handbag is about the closest thing he has to family in the entire world. As Pascal once said, we laugh and cry about the same things.Wilde is, it hardly needs to be said, the closest thing to a God we are likely to have visit us on this planet. There are, for example, even now, more than 100 years after his death, entire companies that produce desk calendars that would not be in business if not for the endless supply of quotes he provides for the foot of Monday the Ninth of February and so on.If humour comes in a spectrum and slapstick is at one end of that spectrum, then this is the other end.

  • By alfredlordbleep on May 30, 2014

    Excellent edition for Peter Raby's introductions to all the plays and Wilde's original scenario for The Importance of Being Earnest. Line numbers as well are a nice touch.For literary criticism of The Importance of Being Earnest see Raby's own Companion to the play. If you're really in deep, go for Bloom's Modern Critical Interpretations series, for his selection of essays devoted to Earnest. Here is a distillation of Ian Gregor's conclusion:...What distinguishes Shakespeare and Jonson from countless less successful dramatists, [is] the use of language. But whereas their language was a means to an end, and their end conforms fairly directly with Johnson's definition of the function of literature---"to enable readers to better enjoy life or to endure it," Wilde was concerned with the linguistic artifact itself with a kind of poetry which Auden has described as "a verbal earthly paradise, a timeless world of pure play...". To think of Wilde's art as merely "escapist" is to oversimplify the position. What he gives us is a completely realized idyll, offering itself as something irrevocably other than life, not a wish-fulfillment of life as it might be lived....The Importance of Being Earnest is the dramatic expression of a precise aesthetic ideology where art is seen as the supreme ordering and perfection of life....

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