Oscar Wilde's madcap farce of mistaken identities, secret commitments, and entanglements of lovers still delights readers more than a century after its first performance and publication in 1895. For decades, The Importance of Being Earnest's rapid-fire wit and excentric characters have made it a cor... nerstone of the high school curriculum.
The same mythical suitor is loved by Cecily Cardew and Gwendolen Fairfax. Jack Worthing wooed Gwendolen as Ernest, while Algernon posed as Ernest to win Jack's ward's heart, Cecily. When the "rivals" arrive on the same weekend at Jack's country home to fight for Ernest's undivided attention and the "Ernests" to claim loose their beloved pandemonium breaks. The day can only be saved by a senile nursemaid and an old, discarded handbag!
This Prestwick House Literary Touchstone Edition contains a glossary and notes from the reader to help the modern reader appreciate the wry wit and elaborate plot twists of Wilde.
Cecily. This is no time for wearing the shallow mask of manners. When I see a spade I call it a spade. Gwendolen. [Satirically.] I am glad to say that I have never seen a spade. It is obvious that our social spheres have been widely different.
You have filled my tea with lumps of sugar, and though I asked most distinctly for bread and butter, you have given me cake. I am known for the gentleness of my disposition, and the extraordinary sweetness of my nature, but I warn you, Miss Cardew, you may go too far.
This ghastly state of things is what you call Bunburying, I suppose? Algernon. Yes, and a perfectly wonderful Bunbury it is. The most wonderful Bunbury I have ever had in my life. Jack. Well, you've no right whatsoever to Bunbury here. Algernon. That is absurd. One has a right to Bunbury anywhere one chooses. Every serious Bunburyist knows that.