The Importance of Being Earnest [NOOK Book]

Overview

About the Author

Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin in 1854. He graduated from Oxford University in 1878 with a reputation as a brilliant scholar and quickly dazzled London society with his wit and his flamboyant dress. His first literary successes came in the 1880s with his lecture tour of America and the publication of his fairy tales. These were followed by five highly polished plays and The Picture of Dorian Gray, all completed during the ...
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The Importance of Being Earnest

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Overview

About the Author

Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin in 1854. He graduated from Oxford University in 1878 with a reputation as a brilliant scholar and quickly dazzled London society with his wit and his flamboyant dress. His first literary successes came in the 1880s with his lecture tour of America and the publication of his fairy tales. These were followed by five highly polished plays and The Picture of Dorian Gray, all completed during the first half of the 1890s. After losing a slander suit over accusations of his homosexual behavior, Wilde was prosecuted and spent two years in prison. Following his release in 1897, estranged from his wife and children, Wilde moved to Paris, where he died in 1900.
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Editorial Reviews

Philip E. Smith University of Pittsburgh
"Broadview's Importance of Being Earnest carries on the press's excellent series of texts for general readers and students alike. Samuel Lyndon Gladden presents the three-act text, as well as an appendix with important scenes and lines from the original four-act version. The volume includes many useful annotations and glosses, appendices with contextual information, illustrations, and extracts from letters and documents that will enhance understanding and interpretation of the play. The introduction places the play in up-to-date critical and biographical contexts, illuminating issues without closing down other approaches to making sense of Wilde's carefully composed dramatic nonsense."
Frederick S. Roden University of Connecticut
"Samuel Lyndon Gladden's edition of The Importance of Being Earnest continues Broadview Press's proven tradition of excellence. This book will serve the undergraduate, general reader, and scholar. Gladden's introduction is provocative, and the ancillary materials are especially welcome. Gladden balances familiar with unexpected contemporary works — from Gilbert and Sullivan to Ada Leverson, playbills to reviews, poems to pictures, conduct manuals to dandy tracts — plus excerpts of Wilde's writings, including an earlier version of the play. Bibliography and chronology complete the presentation as one-stop shopping for an earnest acquaintance with Wilde's charmer as social text."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596250017
  • Publisher: Neeland Media LLC
  • Publication date: 1/1/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 898 KB

Meet the Author

Born in Ireland in 1856, Oscar Wilde was a noted essayist, playwright, fairy tale writer and poet, as well as an early leader of the Aesthetic Movement. His plays include: An Ideal Husband, Salome, A Woman of No Importance, and Lady Windermere's Fan. Among his best known stories are The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Canterville Ghost.

Biography

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was born on October 16, 1854, to an intellectually prominent Dublin family. His father, Sir William Wilde, was a renowned physician who was knighted for his work as medical adviser to the 1841 and 1851 Irish censuses; his mother, Lady Jane Francesca Elgee, was a poet and journalist. Wilde showed himself to be an exceptional student. While at the Royal School in Enniskillen, he took First Prize in Classics. He continued his studies at Trinity College, Dublin, on scholarship, where he won high honors, including the Demyship Scholarship to Magdalen College, Oxford.

At Oxford, Wilde engaged in self-discovery, through both intellectual and personal pursuits. He fell under the influence of the aesthetic philosophy of Walter Pater, a tutor and author who inspired Wilde to create art for the sake of art alone. It was during these years that Wilde developed a reputation as an eccentric and a foppish dresser who always had a flower in his lapel. Wilde won his first recognition as a writer when the university awarded him the Newdigate Prize for his poem "Ravenna."

Wilde went from Oxford to London, where he published his first volume of verse, Poems, in 1881. From 1882 to 1884, he toured the United States, Ireland, and England, giving a series of lectures on Aestheticism. In America, between speaking engagements, he met some of the great literary minds of the day, including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Walt Whitman. His first play, Vera, was staged in New York but did poorly. After his marriage to Constance Lloyd in 1884 and the birth of his two sons, Wilde began to make his way into London's theatrical, literary, and homosexual scenes. He published Intentions, a collection of dialogues on aesthetic philosophy, in 1891, the year he met Lord Alfred Douglas, who became his lover and his ultimate downfall. Wilde soon produced several successful plays, including Lady Windermere's Fan (1892) and A Woman of No Importance (1893). Wilde's popularity was short-lived, however. In 1894, during the concurrent runs of his plays An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest, he became the subject of a homosexual scandal that led him to withdraw all theater engagements and declare bankruptcy. Urged by many to flee the country rather than face a trial in which he would surely be found guilty, Wilde chose instead to remain in England. Arrested in 1895 and found guilty of "homosexual offenses," Wilde was sentenced to two years hard labor and began serving time in Wandsworth prison. He was later transferred to the detention center in Reading Gaol, where he composed De Profundis, a dramatic monologue written as a letter to Lord Alfred Douglas that was published in 1905. Upon his release, Wilde retreated to the Continent, where he lived out the rest of his life under a pseudonym. He published his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol, in 1898 while living in exile.

During his lifetime, Wilde was most often the center of controversy. The Picture of Dorian Gray, which was serialized in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine in 1890 and published in book form the next year, is considered to be Wilde's most personal work. Scrutinized by critics who questioned its morality, the novel portrays the author's internal battles and arrives at the disturbing possibility that "ugliness is the only reality." Oscar Wilde died penniless, of cerebral meningitis, in Paris on November 30, 1900. He is buried in Paris's Père Lachaise Cemetery.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Good To Know

To make ends meet, Wilde edited the popular ladies' periodical Woman's Day from 1887 to 1889.

When in exile on the Continent, Wilde was forced to live under the alias Sebastian Melmoth.

It is rumored that Wilde's last written words were found in his journal, left behind in the Left Bank flophouse where he died: "My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has got to go."

Wilde is buried in the Paris cemetery of Père Lachaise; there, he keeps company with other famous artists, including Jim Morrison and Edith Piaf.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 16, 1854
    2. Place of Birth:
      Dublin, Ireland
    1. Date of Death:
      November 30, 1900
    2. Place of Death:
      Paris, France

Read an Excerpt

FIRST ACT


SCENE - Morning-room in Algernon's flat in Half-Moon Street. The room is luxuriously and artistically furnished. The sound of a piano is heard in the adjoining room.

[Lane is arranging afternoon tea on the table, and after the music has ceased, Algernon enters.]

ALGERNON: Did you hear what I was playing, Lane?

LANE: I didn't think it polite to listen, sir.

ALGERNON: I'm sorry for that, for your sake. I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life.

LANE: Yes, sir.

ALGERNON: And, speaking of the science of Life, have you got the cucumber sandwiches cut for Lady Bracknell?

LANE: Yes, sir.[Hands them on a salver.]

ALGERNON: [Inspects them, takes two, and sits down on the sofa.] Oh! . . . by the way, Lane, I see from your book that on Thursday night, when Lord Shoreman and Mr. Worthing were dining with me, eight bottles of champagne are entered as having been consumed.

LANE: Yes, sir; eight bottles and a pint.

ALGERNON: Why is it that at a bachelor's establishment the servants invariably drink the champagne? I ask merely for information.

LANE: I attribute it to the superior quality of the wine, sir. I have often observed that in married households the champagne is rarely of a first-rate brand.

ALGERNON: Good Heavens! Is marriage so demoralising as that!

LANE: I believe it is a very pleasant state, sir. I have had very little experience of it myself up to the present. I have only been married once. That was in consequence of a misunderstanding between myself and a young person.

ALGERNON: [Languidly.] I don't know that I am much interested in your family life, Lane.

LANE: No, sir; it is not a very interesting subject. I never think of it myself.

ALGERNON: Very natural, I am sure. That will do, Lane, thank you.

LANE: Thank you, sir. [Lane goes out.]

ALGERNON: Lane's views on marriage seem somewhat lax. Really, if the lower orders don't set us a good example, what on earth is the use of them? They seem, as a class, to have absolutely no sense of moral responsibility. [Enter Lane.]

LANE: Mr. Ernest Worthing. [Enter Jack.] [Lane goes out.]

ALGERNON: How are you, my dear Ernest? What brings you up to town?

JACK: Oh, pleasure, pleasure! What else should bring one anywhere? Eating as usual, I see, Algy!

ALGERNON: [Stiffly.] I believe it is customary in good society to take some slight refreshment at five o'clock. Where have you been since last Thursday?

JACK: [Sitting down on the sofa.] In the country.

ALGERNON: What on earth do you do there?

JACK: [Pulling off his gloves.] When one is in town one amuses oneself. When one is in the country one amuses other people. It is excessively boring.

ALGERNON: And who are the people you amuse?

JACK: [Airily.] Oh, neighbours, neighbours.

ALGERNON: Got nice neighbours in your part of Shropshire?

JACK: Perfectly horrid! Never speak to one of them.

ALGERNON: How immensely you must amuse them! [Goes over and takes sandwich.] By the way, Shropshire is your county, is it not?

JACK: Eh? Shropshire? Yes, of course. Hallo! Why all these cups? Why cucumber sandwiches? Why such reckless extravagance in one so young? Who is coming to tea?

ALGERNON: Oh! merely Aunt Augusta and Gwendolen.

JACK: How perfectly delightful!

ALGERNON: Yes, that is all very well; but I am afraid Aunt Augusta won't quite approve of your being here.

JACK: May I ask why?

ALGERNON: My dear fellow, the way you flirt with Gwendolen is perfectly disgraceful. It is almost as bad as the way Gwendolen flirts with you.

JACK: I am in love with Gwendolen. I have come up to town expressly to propose to her.

ALGERNON: I thought you had come up for pleasure? . . . I call that business.

JACK: How utterly unromantic you are!

ALGERNON: I really don't see anything romantic in proposing. It is very romantic to be in love. But there is nothing romantic about a definite proposal. Why, one may be accepted. One usually is, I believe. Then the excitement is all over. The very essence of romance is uncertainty. If ever I get married, I'll certainly try to forget the fact.

JACK: I have no doubt about that, dear Algy. The Divorce Court was specially invented for people whose memories are so curiously constituted.

ALGERNON: Oh! there is no use speculating on that subject. Divorces are made in Heaven - [Jack puts out his hand to take a sandwich. Algernon at once interferes.] Please don't touch the cucumber sandwiches. They are ordered specially for Aunt Augusta. [Takes one and eats it.]

JACK: Well, you have been eating them all the time.

ALGERNON: That is quite a different matter. She is my aunt. [Takes plate from below.] Have some bread and butter. The bread and butter is for Gwendolen. Gwendolen is devoted to bread and butter.

JACK: [Advancing to table and helping himself.] And very good bread and butter it is too.

ALGERNON: Well, my dear fellow, you need not eat as if you were going to eat it all. You behave as if you were married to her already. You are not married to her already, and I don't think you ever will be.

JACK: Why on earth do you say that?

ALGERNON: Well, in the first place girls never marry the men they flirt with. Girls don't think it right.

JACK: Oh, that is nonsense!

ALGERNON: It isn't. It is a great truth. It accounts for the extraordinary number of bachelors that one sees all over the place. In the second place, I don't give my consent.
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Table of Contents

Introduction
Lady Windermere's fan 1
An ideal husband 71
The importance of being earnest 175
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 52 )
Rating Distribution

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(23)

4 Star

(19)

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(8)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 50 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2014

    Love this play!

    My theatre class is going to put on this production at our school in a few months and I can't wait. This play is unbelievably hilarious and witty as well. There are alot of big words that don't quite make sense but when you put it all together it creates the perfect classic story about betrayal and deception and diguise! I have read alot of plays in my 14 year life and this is definately at the very top of my favorites list!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2013

    Simply Delightful and A Quick Read

    This is such a brilliant play! Honestly it's simply hilarious and a must read for absolutely everyone! It's funny enough for reader's to be entertained throughout the play and it uses satirical prose to reveal a deeper meaning.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2013

    Yall is stooooooooopid. Go f**k yoselves please read

    Just kudding!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2012

    Rrad silverfishes story at ski result two!

    Yay!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2012

    Very funny

    It was awesome clasic situation. Really easy and fast read. Itvtruly leaves you with a lesson if being earnest

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  • Posted September 5, 2011

    Wonder full read

    I read this when i was in high school and instead of being bored to death my class found this thouraly entertaining and funny i recomend watching the movie :D

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Yearning to Read Review

    Jack: A young man with no parents. Has a ward - the daughter of the man who brought him up. Is entirely overprotective of her. Has a made-up brother named Earnest, a troublemaker who never actually existed and is, in fact, Jack. Is in love with his best friend's cousin, Gwendolyn.
    Algernon: A young man whose parents have died. Has an aunt and a cousin, Lady Bracknell and the aforesaid Gwendolyn. Has a made-up friend, Bunbury, and sometimes tours the country in the guise of this Mr. Bunbury. Falls in love with Jack's ward and decides to meet her as soon as he can - putting aside the fake name of Bunbury and taking on the name of Earnest, stealing Jack's place as Jack's brother.
    In this wonderful romantic comedy, nothing is what it seems, and Jack and Algernon must dig their way out of the little mess they've made for themselves so they can marry the women they love.

    I read this play for school, but I would easily read it again...maybe, now. I was super impressed by the hilarity and perfection of this story. I laughed out loud at the quirky statements that make these characters who they are. I couldn't help but fall in love with Jack. I loved the simplicity and lightheartedness. Without a doubt, this is one of my all time favorite plays.

    Using two words that I've already used, this book is "simply hilarious." I highly recommend it to ages fifteen and up. The reason for this is because I tried reading it in 9th grade and didn't get it at all. It makes much more sense now and I laughed so hard at a few statements that I remembered as boring and stupid. But at the right age, it is definitely worthy and easy read.

    Enjoy! :)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Oscar Wilde was a genius!

    I had to read this in my senior year of high school. I am so glad that my teacher had this assigned. This play is so wity it will make you laugh out loud. The characters are so original and Wilde does such a good job of making you want more from them. This is a must read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2002

    Witty and Humorous

    This book is a perfect example of how people in society potray themselves as dignified individuals while keeping the realization that they play an important role in society. They adjust themselves to fit their own standards, and live up to their character and gender roles of their class and time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2002

    Wildes at his best

    Being the last work of a great writer it does perfect justice to his name and leaves a lasting impact before the curtain is down finally. Oscar Wilde has weilded his mighty pen in this play with its full power and churns out a biting satire on middle class hypocrisy of Victorian England. But as it is true for all great literature this play transcends itself from the limitation of space and time and becomes a classics for all ages and places. I strongly recommend this play for all theatre lovers and stage production as it will be a delightful presentation. However even simply reading of this play is as much a matter of great joy. It is certainly a great value for one's time and money so much so that its worth is really invaluable. It is certainly a literary classics and in this play Wilde is at his best.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2001

    A new bom for WW3!

    This book is a bom!

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2011

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    Posted April 3, 2011

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