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The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  43,267 Ratings  ·  362 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
Paperback, 462 pages
Published May 25th 2000 by Penguin Classics (first published 1898)
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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
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
Apr 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult, classics, favorites
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.”

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
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
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
Yossor Jamal
Nov 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I am glad that sir Oscar lived up to his reputation
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.
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
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.
Aug 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
May 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Oscar Wild depicts a society that shows us how little we have evolved when it regards ways of thinking, men/women relationships, the importance of others thoughts, and how forgetful we are of the importance of trivial things. Of course one must remind oneself constantly that one is reading plays written in the late XIX century.

I simple adored reading all the plays and would have read them in a single breath if I could.
"Lady Windermere's fan" and "Salomé" are my least favorites. In "A woman of no
Charity Yoder
Jul 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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!!!
J. Bebbington
May 11, 2015 rated it liked it
It was interesting, but the main problem with it is that is written by Oscar Wilde. Whenever I read something by him, all I can really take from it is Wilde bragging about being able to do things with words no one else can imagine. I'm blinded by his brilliance, if you will - for no description of Wilde would be complete without the word brilliant.
Still, if you want, as it is described "A Trivial Comedy for Serious People," then this is the book for you.
Apr 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
May 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Is there a funnier play in english than "Earnest?" Way before "Seinfeld" it dared to be about nothing. The others collected here are the more immature and squalling siblings to the incomparable "Earnest."
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, play, romance
Wilde's wit is still, over a hundred years later, stand out. These subversive plays that poke fun at late Victorian English society sparkle with ridiculous and believable characters and a hysterical situations.
Oct 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
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)
Jul 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Although I love his novel and his fairy tales, Wilde's greatest talent lies in his clever turns of phrase, and those are best displayed in his marvelous plays.
Oct 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: penguin-classics
This is the funniest play!
All the way through I laughed and laughed.
So worth a read / watch!
Luciana Castañeda
Jul 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics, re-read, plays
Yeah. It's gotten even better with time.
Oct 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classic-fictions
Very clever and witty and funny
Feb 23, 2008 rated it really liked it

"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
Jun 20, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: queer
"Sir Robert Chitern enters from behind"
Nov 11, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't remember reading plays before, though I think it very likely I've had to at least once back in school. However it may be, this felt like a first, or rather, five firsts.

Starting with Lady Windermere's fan, I immediately formed the resolution to read more plays, finishing with An Ideal Husband, I still kind of stand by that resolution. A little less convinced maybe. I know the silliness of this statement as it's like contemplating whether to give up books after a mediocre reading experie
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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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