am 25. Januar 2002
This book does not contain "some of Oscar Wilde's best known plays", but only "The Importance of Being Earnest". That's a substantial different!
But that single play is alone more than worth the small trifle it costs - It's really an excellent book, and very funny and amusing, with a very subtle kind of humour, in spite of its easily understandable vocabulary.
am 12. Juli 2010
'The Importance of Being Earnest'
a play by Oscar Wilde
Algernon Moncrieff is visited by his best friend Ernest Worthing, who wants to propose to Algernon's cousin, Gwendolen. But he refuses to grant Ernest his wish until he explains why he owns a cigarette case that bears an inscription to 'dear Uncle Jack.' As it turns out Ernest is leading a double life: in the country, he goes by the name of Jack and pretends to have a brother named Ernest living in London. By this he can assume a serious attitude for the benefit of his young ward Cecily and lead a 'free' live in the city. After hearing this story, Algernon admits that he engages in a similar lifestyle: he pretends to have an invalid friend named Bunbury in the country, so whenever Algernon wants to avoid social obligations, he pretends to visit him instead.
When Lady Bracknell finally arrives with her daughter Gwendolen, Jack proposes to her. Gwendolen accepts happily, but confesses to only love him for his name: Ernest. Because of this Jack decides to be christened as Ernest. After Lady Bracknell finds out about the engagement she forbids her daughter to ever see him again.
A few days later at Jack's country house, Algernon arrives and announces himself as Ernest Worthing in order to propose to Cecily. As it turns out, Cecily has for some time imagined herself in love with her Uncle Jack's wicked younger brother and Algernon easily sweeps her off her feet. But like Gwendolen, Cecily loves her fiancé for his name so Algernon decides to be christened as Ernest as well. Something Jack is not very happy about.
To make matters worse Gwendolen arrives from London. When she and Cecily meet and they discover that they are both engaged to 'Ernest', Jack and Algernon are in trouble.
The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People is the last and most popular play by Oscar Wilde. Set in late Victorian England, the humorous play is brimming with witty and nonsensical dialogues and even though the play was written over a hundred years ago the wit is still entertaining and fascinating up to date. What fascinated me the most was that below the surface of the light, brittle comedy, Wilde hides a serious subtext that takes aim at self-righteous moralism and hypocrisy, the very aspects of Victorian society that would play a part in Oscar Wilde's downfall shortly after the first staging of his play. Moreover he accomplishes this without affecting the light atmosphere surrounding it. One is perfectly capable of reading the play without having to notice its deeper meaning while still getting an enjoyable read out of it.
It is also important to mention, that The Importance of Being Earnes is a nonsense play. This means that the characters say the opposite of what is normal or expected, everything is turned upside down and reminds us of the innocence of childhood, the paradise of innocence. For example, when Jack announces the death of his brother and Miss Prims replies: 'What a lesson for him! I trust he will profit by it.' or when little Cecily says that, 'It is always painful to part from people whom one has known for a very brief space of time. The absence of old friends one can endure with equanimity. But even a momentary separation from anyone to whom one has just been introduced is almost unbearable.'. The play is full of such statements that make us smile and or even laugh out loud at their absurdity. Sometimes we even have to read them again, not understanding what the character is trying to say, only to find out that they were really saying nonsense. Some might find lines like these annoying, others hilarious, I find them simply fascinating.
As we have already heard, the characters in the play act like children - they are doing and saying things with such innocence, unaware of possible consequences. One point of critique is that the character of Algernon and Jack, as well as Gwendolen and Cecily are very similar. They act and think in the same way and it might be argued that it would have been more interesting if the couples were at least in some points opposing or unique, leading to different approaches and solutions to their problem.
The last point of my review will deal with the name 'Earnest' and its double meaning in this play. The book does not only deal with the fact that it is important for Algernon and Jack to be 'Ernest' but also with the character trait 'earnest'. If a person is earnest it means he or she is serious and sincere, something that is not a desired trait in The Importance of Being Earnest. It can present as boringness, smugness, a sense of duty and other similar traits that were associated with the Victorian character. Being earnest is something that has to be avoided at all costs in the play, so it is quite interesting that the name 'Earnest' is so popular with Gwendolen and Cecily.
To sum it all up, The Importance of Being Earnes is without a doubt one of the best plays of its time. The story, even though it is in parts predictable, is written to perfection. The dialogues are witty, entertaining and well thought out. After reading the book the wish arises in the reader to see it performed on stage, as Wilde intended his masterpiece to be experienced.
The Importance of Being Earnest
- A Trivial Comedy for Serious People
The Persons of the play:
John Worthing, J.P.; Algernon Moncrieff; Rev. Canon Chasuble, D.D.; Mr. Gribsby, Solicitor; Merriman, Butler; Lane, Manservant; Moulton, Gardener; Lady Bracknell; Hon. Gwendolen Fairfax; Cecily Cardew; Miss Prism, Governess
London: ST. James's Theatre
February 14th, 1895
am 8. November 2001
Ein lustiges Verwirrspiel, das den Leser zum Schmunzeln und zum Mitfiebern bringt. Dieses Buch bringt die gute Laune zurück! Kein schweres Vokabular, für jeden zu empfehlen.
am 23. Oktober 2015
Das Stück von Wilde ist ein riesengroßer, witziger und eleganter Blödsinn. Als Vorbereitung für eine Aufführung jn London hat das Buch gut geklappt. Ich verstand nach der Lektüre tatsächlich die total geistreichen Dialoge und die meisten Pointen. An dem Buch besonders schön sind die Quellen und Kommentare, z.B. Briefe von Wilde und Kritiken der Premiere.
Die Gentlemen John "Jack" Worthing und Algernon Moncrieff sind Freunde und Lebemänner und um ihr Freizeitleben gesellschaftsfähig zu machen, erfinden sie beide Personen, um die sie sich kümmern müssen. Algernon denkt sich den ewig kranken Bunbury auf dem Land aus und Jack sorgt sich um seinen imaginären missratenen Bruder Earnest in der Stadt. Diese erfundenen Personen ermöglichen ihnen ganz nach Belieben dem öden Landleben zu entfliehen oder aber dort in Ruhe abzutauchen.
Jack hat das Anliegen, Zeit mit Algernons Cousine Gwendolen verbringen zu können, während Algernon sich in Jacks Mündel Cecily verliebt.
Es wird problematisch, denn beide stellen sich ihrer jeweiligen Angebeteten unter einem falschem Namen - Earnest - vor. Während die jungen Damen den Namen Earnest für eine sehr wichtige Voraussetzung halten, um einen Mann lieben zu können.
Diese humorvolle, manchmal regelrecht alberne Verwechslungskomödie hat inhaltlich keinen großen Tiefgang. Die Idee dahinter ist recht verrückt und mit Klischees und Konflikten nur so gespickt. Dennoch ist es ein unterhaltsames und humorvolles Stück, das gerade durch die sprachliche Umsetzung äußerst gelungen ist. Das liegt hauptsächlich an Wildes sprachlicher Fähigkeit und den kurzweiligen und geistreichen Dialogen und vielen Pointen. Es ist amüsant zu sehen, wie sich die Gentlemen aus ihrem Lügengebilde herauswinden.
Wenn man die bissigen Dialoge genauer betrachtet, zeigen sie unterschwellig eine Sozialkritik gegen die viktorianische Gesellschaft auf.
Ein unterhaltsames Theaterstück, dass am besten auf Englisch gelesen werden sollte. So kommen die herrlichen Dialoge und witzigen Pointen am schönsten zur Geltung.
am 30. Juli 2005
"The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comedy for Serious People" is one of the first plays written in English since the works of Shakespeare that celebrates the language itself. Oscar Wilde's comedy has one advantage over the classic comedies of the Bard in that "The Importance of Being Earnest" is as funny today as it was when it was first performed at the St. Jame's Theater in London on February 14, 1895. After all, enjoying Shakespeare requires checking the bottom for footnotes explaining the meaning of those dozens of words that Shakespeare makes up in any one of his plays. But Wilde's brilliant wit, his humor and social satire, remain intact even though he was a writer of the Victorian era.
Wilde believed in art for art's own sake, which explains why he emphasized beauty while his contemporaries were dealing with the problems of industrial England. "The Importance of Being Earnest" is set among the upper class, making fun of their excesses and absurdities while imbuing them with witty banter providing a constant stream of epigrams. The play's situation is simple in its unraveling complexity. Algernon Moncrieff is an upper-class English bachelor who is visited by his friend Jack Worthing, who is known as "Ernest." Jack has come to town to propose to Gwendolen Fairfax, the daugher of the imposing Lady Bracknell and Algy's first cousin. Jack has a ward named Cecily who lives in the country while Algernon has an imaginary friend named "Bunbury" whom he uses as an excuse to get out of social engagements.
Jack proposes to Gwendolen but has two problems. First, Gwendolen is wiling to agree because his name is Ernest, a name that "seems to inspire absolute confidence," but which, of course, is not his true Christian name. Second, Lady Bracknell objects to Jack as a suitor when she learns he was abandoned by his parents and found in a handbag in Victoria Station by Mr. Thomas Cardew. Meanwhile, Algernon heads off to the country to check out Cecily, to whom he introduces himself as being her guardian Jack's brother Ernest. This meets with Ceclily's approval because in her diary she has been writing about her engagement to a man named Ernest. Then things get really interesting.
Wilde proves once and for all time that the pun can indeed be elevated to a high art form. Throughout the entire play we have the double meaning of the word "earnest," almost to the level of a conceit, since many of the play's twists and turns deal with the efforts of Jack and Algernon to be "Ernest," by lying, only to discover that circumstances makes honest men of them in the end (and of the women for that matter as well). There is every reason to believe that Wilde was making a point about earnestness being a key ideal of Victorian culture and one worthy of being thoroughly and completely mocked. Granted, some of the puns are really bad, and the discussion of "Bunburying" is so bad it is stands alone in that regard, but there is a sense in which the bad ones only make the good ones so glorious and emphasize that Wilde is at his best while playing games with the English language.
But if Wilde's puns are the low road then his epigrams represent the heights of his genius, especially when they are used by the characters in an ironic vein (e.g., "It is very romantic to be in love. But there is nothing romantic about a definite proposal" and "I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance"). Jack is the male lead, but it is Algernon who represents the ideal Wilde character, who insists he is a rebel speaking out against the institutions of society, such as marriage, but with attacks that are so flamboyant and humorous that the cleverness of the humor ends up standing apart from the inherent point.
In the end, "The Importance of Being Earnest" is the wittiest play every written, in English or any other language, and I doubt that anything written in the future will come close. Wilde was essentially a stand-up comedian who managed to create a narrative in which he could get off dozens of classic one-liners given a high-class sheen by being labeled epigrams. Like a comedian he touches on several topics, from the aristocracy, marriage, and the literary world to English manners, women, love, religion, and anything else that came to his fertile mind. But because it is done with such a lighthearted tone that the barbs remain as timely today as they were at the end of the 19th-century and "The Importance of Being Earnest" will always be at the forefront of the plays of that time which will continue to be produced.
Ich mag es nicht, Theaterstücke zu lesen. Theaterstücke sollte man sehen, oder zumindest hören. Da ich auch nicht wirklich Zeit habe zu lesen, weil ich sonst zu gar nichts mehr komme, ziehe ich einige der Kanon Bücher jetzt einfach als ungekürzte Hörbücher bzw. Hörspiele durch.
Dieses Hörstück ist ein Hybrid. Es ist kein wirkliches Hörspiel, denn es gibt keine Geräuschkulisse, aber dennoch verteilte Sprecher. Statt Geräuschen gibt es einen Sprecher, der die Regieanweisungen spricht. Also eine Lesung mit verteilten Rollen, somit kein Hörbuch und kein Hörspiel aber auch keine vertonte Lesung.
Die Geschichte ist schnell erzählt, denn sie ist nur ein Dreiakter.
Algernon Moncrieff und John Worthing sind beide Single und best Buddies. Nur, John hat ein Alias für die Stadt, damit er seinen Ruf auf dem Lande wahren kann: Ernest. Er ist somit sein eigener kleiner Bruder. Nun hat sich John Worthing in Algernons Cousine verliebt, die jedoch nur einen Mann heiraten will, der Ernest heißt. Algernon hingegen hat einen erfundenen, schwerkranken Freund namens Bunbury, den er vorschiebt, wenn er sich aus der Stadt absetzen will. Algernon ist neugierig auf John Worthings Mündel Cecily Cardew und macht sich an sie heran, indem er sich für Johns kleinen Bruder Ernest ausgibt. Die Verwicklungen sind vorhersehbar.
Die Geschichte greift eigentlich zu altbekannten ausgelutschten Tricks: Verwirrspiel mit vertauschten Namen (hat schon Shakespeare gemacht), dazu Zickenterror (unzählige Beispiele) und ein Geheimnis um ein verschwundenes Kind das plötzlich doch einen tollen Stammbaum hat (*gähn*).
Was die Geschichte so gelungen macht sind die witzig, bissigen Dialoge, die zugleich massive Sozialkritik sind und die viktorianische Gesellschaft so richtig gegen das Schienenbein treten. Dazu wird noch über Klischees bezüglich Männer und Frauen hergezogen indem sie teilweise um 180° gedreht werden. Eine ausgefeilte, innovative Geschichte würde wohl nur von den genialen Dialogen ablenken.
Die Sprecher sind OK. Algernons Stimme finde ich seltsam, ansonsten sind die Sprecher sehr gut.
am 24. Juli 1999
Okay, so Oscar Wilde is never placed in context with the "world view" so many of us have of the Victorian era. This play, probably his finest, is a laugh out loud riot about two young men with a combined four identities, both searching for an honest, compassionate relationship with two equally shallow women. Wilde's wit is quick, sharp, and satiric, and holds up very well at the dawn of the Twenty-first century.
am 17. Juli 1999
Oscar Wilde's play about a misfortunate 'foundling' is, hillarious and thought provoking. That is to say if you appreciate the English aristocracy.
A word of advice, if you know of this work playing at a theater somehwere you can get to, do not miss it!
am 26. Juli 2000
This book had me laughing almost the whole time I was reading it. This is a good book, great for older children to adults, and is sure to at least amuse the most humorless individual.