Oscar Wilde is a stellar wordsmith. I knew after reading The Picture of Dorian Gray, I wanted to read more of his works. This play satirizes Victorian England’s social norms by having two friends exchange lives and experiences under the pseudonym of Earnest. This play is praised for the comedy and trivial nature and has been brought to the stage many, many times. It is often considered to be Wilde’s masterwork.
This play doesn’t take itself very seriously, which makes it hard to complain too much about it. The language was easy to follow and fun. It did mindless things written in a compelling way. It was obvious through the text that the author enjoyed himself a great deal while writing this story. He truly enjoyed the characters, he created and wanted the reader/ viewer to do the same.
I wouldn’t categorize this as the greatest piece of literature I’ve ever read. It was mediocre in parts and felt a little flat, but I wouldn’t characterize it as a waste of time. I didn’t regret the time I spent reading it. I realize this isn’t a heaping endorsement of praise, but it didn’t make me wish I had read something else. I appreciated it enough, but I don’t think my life would be incomplete by never reading it again.
I understand that reading a play isn’t the best way to get a feel for a story. Certain parts can be much more memorable by seeing a great actor or actress carry them out on stage. With that thought though, I’ve never seen King Lear as a play, but I’ve read that several times and have been entertained by it every time. I would like to see this tale as it was intended to be viewed. Perhaps then I’ll come around on it, giving it a glowing endorsement. Until such time, “okay” is as good a review as I can give it.
If this is your introduction to Oscar Wilde, you can do better. If you’ve seen the play and need more of it, or just want a lighthearted and somewhat air-headed story written in a compelling way, this is the book for you. Otherwise, I would I would recommend The Picture of Dorian Gray or House of Pomegranates over this. Either way, only someone as talented as this author can make something so mundane, seem so interesting.
Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans pod cast. See more of his work here. Also enjoy his poetry blog here or download his e-book here.