The Complete Plays: The Importance Of Being Earnest + Salome + A Woman Of No Importance + Lady Windermere's Fan and more

1059 stars
Oscar Wilde
Title The Complete Plays: The Importance Of Being Earnest + Salome + A Woman Of No Importance + Lady Windermere's Fan and more
Rating 1059 stars
Author Oscar Wilde
Pages 705
Isbn NA
Review - Vera - or The Nihilists - is the first (apprentice) play written by Wilde .. Can be called primitive within the context of the Wildean Evolution ..
- The Duchess of Padua is seemingly the only verse play in this collection, being written in Iambic Pentameter in blank verse after the fashion of Shakespeare .. Neo-Classicist in many senses .. Nonetheless, studded with epigrams ushering the development of the general mood in which Wilde will later write his great plays and his solitary novel ..
- Salome: A great one-act play .. Wonderful dialogues.
- Lady Windermere's Fan: Well carved characters & a super witty dialogue, plus a finale that is far from being traditional .. It's obvious that Wilde began here to search supremacy in reality instead of trying vainly to create it in fantasy!
- A Woman of No Importance: Continuing to mock the agreed values of the English society at the historical moment of the play .. Advancing dandyism through the wonderful characters of Lord Illingworth and Lady Allonby, simultaneously with defending higher ethical values through Gerald and the puritan American girl Hester .. You feel the playwright here as an omniscient being who can esteem all of his creation and relish every life model ..
- AN Ideal Husband: A new development of the character of the dandy through Lord Goring's nearly Christian Socialist views on life.
- The Importance of Being Earnest: Sometimes you feel overwhelmed with the witty dialogue .. It may be the best crafted Society comedy by Wilde & it typically serves to illustrate his famously held view on how art shapes life more than the other way round! The fact that a well known classical Egyptian movie was adapted from it shocked me but I loved it all the same ..
- La Sainte Courtisane: Like a revival of Anatole France's Thais .. Dialogue is so biblical in spirit & hence its endearment to people enamoured of the Old Testament in particular ..
- A Florentine Tragedy: a small theater scene in iambic pentameter .. It completes Wilde's challenge of social norms as the protagonist Simone the merchant and his unfaithful wife Bianca are brought to reconciliation after he had killed her lover .. It may be that Wilde even challenges the old inherited habit of tragedy itself as he sets new morals for his heroes ..

On the whole, I loved his complete plays despite the fact that the highly repetitive witty remarks of the dialogue put me off now and then .. Nonetheless I feel definitely indebted to Wilde.

Description

My introduction to Oscar Wilde was the 1999 film made of An Ideal Husband with Rupert Everett and Minnie Driver. I loved it! Witty, romantic. So one day when I saw this book in a used book store, I grabbed it. As it turned out, I had read, or rather experienced another of these plays before--Salome. It's the outlier among the five plays included here. The rest are light comedies set in England among the titled rich in the present day of the plays' writing. Salome is an overwrought verse Biblical drama, an examination of sexual passion says the introduction. And as it turns out, the basis of Richard Strauss' opera Salome. It seems identical with the libretto from best I can tell from memory without comparing it side by side. I think I prefer it with the music... The other plays, Lady Windermere's Fan, A Woman of No Importance and The Importance of Being Earnest do strike me as frothy fluff, even if there is some social commentary on upper crust hypocrisy. Ah, but what fluff! Some lines:

I can resist anything but temptation. - Lady Windermere's Fan

Nothing succeeds like excess. - A Woman of No Importance (It has the perfect last line too.)

The amount of women in London who flirt with their own husbands is perfectly scandalous. It is simply washing one’s clean linen in public. - The Importance of Being Earnest

These are, all of them (well, other than Salome) absolutely a delight to read. Great fun. (And Salome did make a nifty opera.)


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