Annotations for Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays
Baker & Taylor
Algernon pretends to be Jack's troublesome younger brother, in Wilde's satirical assault on nineteenth-century fashions, manners, and morality.
Blackwell North Amer
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 historical settings to explore issues of sex, gender and power.
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 glorious comedy of mistaken identity, which ridicules codes of propriety and etiquette. Manners and morality are also victims of Wilde's sharp wit in Lady Windermere's Fan, A Woman of No Importance and An Ideal Husband, in which snobbery and hypocrisy are laid bare. In Salomé and A Florentine Tragedy, Wilde makes powerful use of historical settings to explore the complex relationship between sex and power. The range of these plays displays Wilde's delight in artifice, masks and disguises, and reveals the pretentions of the social world in which he himself played such a dazzling and precarious part. Richard Allen Cave's introduction and notes discuss the themes of the plays and Wilde's innovative methods of staging. This edition includes the excised 'Gribsby' scene from The Importance of Being Earnest. Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was educated in Dublin and Oxford and became the leading exponent of the new Aesthetic Movement. His work, including short fiction such The Happy Price (1888), his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), gradually won him a reputation, which was cemented by his phenomenally successful plays, including A Woman of No Importance (1893), An Ideal Husband (1895) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). Imprisoned for homosexual acts, he died after his release, in exile in Paris. If you enjoyed The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays, you might like George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, also available in Penguin Classics. 'Beneath the wit there is always an intense emotional reality. He criticised his audience while he entertained it' Peter Hall, Guardian
Random House, Inc.
Oscar Wilde was at once a family man and a homosexual outsider, a socialite, socialist, and Irish nationalist. His contradictions inspired him to ponder the roles and masks donned in conventional society, and his acute and wry insights are wonderfully displayed in this collection of his essential plays. Known not only for his brilliant, epigrammatic language, but also for his sense of theatrical design, color, and staging, Wilde created an enduring body of finely crafted works, whose delights and ironies still speak to modern audiences. In addition to Lady Windermere's Fan, Salomé, A Woman of No Importance, An Ideal Husband, A Florentine Tragedy, andThe Importance of Being Earnest, this edition contains an introduction, notes and commentaries, and an excised scene fromThe Importance of Being Earnest.