Book review: “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde (play)

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(Look at all those tabs!)

Ever since I watched the play on stage (broadcasted by Cineplex from West End with an amazing David Suchet as Lady Bracknell, I have been eager to read the play. I got it off Audible first and listened to it as an audio play, but it had different cast and even though I enjoyed it, the way they accentuated some lines irritated me. (I blame David Suchet for forever ruining any other performance of Lady Bracknell for me.) I wrote the review of the play here if you are interested to read it.

Finally I got my hands on the copy of the play. It was delivered to me by BookDepository in a different edition from what I ordered but I actually like it now.

The play is the epitome of Oscar Wilde’s wit and satire aimed at high society. He laughs at their habits, stupidity, narrow-mindedness and obsession with status. Reading the play might be confusing for people who are not used to reading plays. Stage directions in first part are scarce and largely left to interpretation to the reader. Reading it now, though, after watching the play let me revisit it again and I once again fell in love with Wilde’s language.

I tabbed all of my favourite lines in the play. I have 20 tabs in 54 pages. Basically every other page has a gem of a line in it.

My favourite moment in the play all involved Cecily as she is so simple minded that she says the most ridiculous things. My favourite line of hers was:

Miss Prism. Do not speak slightingly of the three-volume novel, Cecily. I wrote one myself in earlier days.
Cecily. Did you really, Miss Prism? How wonderfully clever you are! I hope it did not end happily? I don’t like novels that end happily. They depress me so much.

Another gem about literature:

Algernon. The truth is rarely pure and never simple. Modern life would be very tedious if it were either, and modern literature a complete impossibility!

Sometimes the way Oscar Wilde phrases things scares me as even over a hundred years later his words are still true.

Do yourself a favour and watch this on stage or at least listen to it as an audio play on Audible. I promise, you will spend 2 hours laughing non-stop.

Personal rating: 5 stars

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