Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Book Review: The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde

I had really no idea what The Importance of Being Earnest was about when I picked it up, but it turned out to be a humorous, entertaining, short little book.

The story revolves around Jack, who has a country home and a city home. When he’s in the city “misbehaving,” he has an alternate persona, “Earnest” that he has created who is supposedly his brother. Algernon is Jack’s friend in the city, and he wants to know about Jack’s country life.

The humor in the book is based on both Jack and Algernon pretending to be Earnest when they each ask different women to be their wives. Of course, things all come tumbling down as the deception is discovered.

Seeing this performed on stage would be more entertaining for me, I think. I can just hear the actors’ overly dramatic performance of some of these lines, and I think the humor would be more enjoyable.

For students, reading the play first might help. The dialog is somewhat stilted at times, and some of the humor is subtle enough that it might be lost, if not discussed in class.

All in all, a classic that is enjoyable, humorous, and a very quick read, if you are interested. This was my first experience with Oscar Wilde, and I’m hoping to pick up another of his some day.

My copy was published by Avon. First performed in 1895.
Copy obtained from the library
158 pages, but this edition contains much supplementary material.

Rating: I usually don’t rate classics.

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  1. This is one I struggle with... Half of me loves it, finds it hilarious and can't help but laugh and enjoy myself. But the other half of me is rolling my eyes and being annoyed out of my mind by the frivolous, silly and stupid actions and attitudes of the characters.

    I haven't actually read this one though... Still trying to decide if I want to. But I have seen it performed more than once. Maybe I should read it, figure out the differences.

  2. I really enjoyed this book! I read it quite a long time back, but I remember finding it hilarious.

  3. A classic review! (haha--very punny) I haven't read this since high school...maybe I should pick it up again. :)
    Happy reading,
    Mary @ Book Swarm

  4. I find it really hard to read plays. The Picture of Dorian Gray is a great read if you think you might like Oscar Wilde.

  5. Oh, I love this play! The humour is still fresh & hilarious. I'm raeding Picture of Dorian Gray right now & it's just as enjoyable.


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