By Oscar Wilde, Avon Books, 1895, 1965, 0-380-01277-4
Extremely funny play. Book has commentary about Wilde’s life which is interesting. Reviews by George Bernard Shaw and others. Includes some of Wilde’s letters begging for money. Satire of people’s seriousness about trivialities.
[p14] With intending to do so, Wilde virtually states the rationale for his sinners in ``The Critic as Artist’’:
What is termed Sin is an essential element of progress. Without it the world would stagnate, or grow old, or became colorless. By its curiosity Sin increases the experience of the race. Through its intensified assertion of individualism, it saves us from monotony of type.
[p35] Jack: When one is placed in the position of guardian, one has to adopt a very high moral tone on all subjects. It’s one’s duty to do so. And is as a high moral tone can hardly be said to conduce very much to either one’s health or one’s happiness, in order to get up to town I have always pretended to have a younger brother of the name of Ernest, who lives in the Albany, and gets into the most dreadful scrapes.
[p45] Lady Bracknell: I do not approve of any thing that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor Square.
[p48] Lady Bracknell: To be born, or at any rate bred, in a hand-bag, whether it had handles or not, seems to me to display a contempt for the ordinary decencies of family life that reminds one of the worst excesses of the French Revolution.
[p49] Algernon: My dear boy, I love hearing my relations abused. It is the only thing that makes me put up with them at all. Relations are simply a tedious pack of people, who haven’t got the remotest knowledge of how to live, nor the smallest instinct about when to die.
[p51] Algernon: The only way to behave to a woman is to make love to her, if she is pretty, and to someone eles, if she is plain.
[p133] An Old New Play, George Bernard Shaw. [Commentary] If the public ever becomes intelligent enough to know when it is really enjoying itself and when it is not, there will be an end of farcical comedy.