Book #1 – A play – The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comedy for Serious People by Oscar Wilde
Genre: Farcical Humour
First performed: 1895
Country: United Kingdom
Movie/TV adaptations: Adapted many times for Film, TV, Radio, Theatre, Opera and the most popular film adaptations were released in 1952 and 2002
Oh, how I love this play. But before I read it, how I loved this movie. One of my favourite movies of all time, it stars Colin Firth – the king of period films and deadpan humour. I must have seen this film too many times and still find it fresh and enjoyable each time. Somehow I never managed to read the play until I came across this reading challenge.
A play that is way ahead of its time, the story never gets old and is for everyone and I literally mean everyone – lover of period books and films or not.
The first act of the play begins in Algernon Moncrieff’s flat. Algernon is a charming, good-for-nothing lover of life but one who possesses excessive and expensive tastes that have led him to debt. He is paid a visit by his friend, Ernest Worthing, a wealthy man who resides chiefly in the country but occasionally visits town on business.
In this act, it is revealed that Ernest’s real name is actually Jack Worthing and he has invented a very useful but troublesome younger brother called Ernest in order that he may be able to visit town to woo Algernon’s cousin Gwendolen. The same goes for Algernon who has invented a very useful invalid friend Bunbury to be able to excuse himself from various invitations from annoying relatives.
What ensues is a comedy of many errors and misunderstandings on all ends when Algernon pretends to be Ernest Worthing, the younger brother of Jack Worthing, to woo Cecily Cardew, Jack’s young ward in the country.
In this game of pretense and lies over the name Ernest, many old secrets are revealed.
A light-hearted and comical play (and movie!), this one is certainly not to be missed! I can guarantee it is a good entertainer for any age group.
My favourite quotes from this play:
1. Cecily: I keep a diary in order to enter the wonderful secrets of my life. If I didn’t write them down, I should probably forget all about them.
Miss Prism: Memory, my dear Cecily, is the diary that we all carry about with us.
Cecily: Yes, but it usually chronicles the things that have never happened, and couldn’t possibly have happened. I believe that Memory is responsible for nearly all the three-volume novels that Mudie sends us.
2. Gwendolen: I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.
3. Jack: How can you sit there, calmly eating muffins when we are in this horrible trouble, I can’t make out. You seem to me to be perfectly heartless.
Algernon: Well, I can’t eat muffins in an agitated manner. The butter would probably get on my cuffs. One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them.
Jack: I say it’s perfectly heartless your eating muffins at all, under the circumstances.
Algernon: When I am in trouble, eating is the only thing that consoles me. Indeed, when I am in really great trouble, as any one who knows me intimately will tell you, I refuse everything except food and drink. At the present moment I am eating muffins because I am unhappy. Besides, I am particularly fond of muffins.