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The Importance of Being Earnest

The Importance of Being Earnest

by Oscar Wilde; Professor Russell Jackson

'A Trivial Comedy for Serious People': its subtitle is the best summary of a play that is the theatrical equivalent of a butterfly. The verbal brilliance of its highly self-conscious characters hides deep anxieties about social and personal identity: Jack Worthing, found as a baby in a handbag at Victoria Station and named after a railway ticket, is prepared to be re-christened to obtain the Christian name - Earnest - his beloved Gwendolen requires in a husband; he then has to confront the stigma of being the illegitimate child of a servant, before fortune, and a benevolent dramatist, reveal his true and entirely respectable identity. This is the only one-volume edition of the play to include an appendix with earlier versions and additional scenes that allow an appreciation of Wilde's creative process.

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