Title: The Importance of Being Earnest
Author: Oscar Wilde
Genre: play (comedy)
Length: DailyLit (28 installments, read in 2 days 🙂 )
Year Published: 1895 (play premiered)
Reason for Reading: I read Miss Julie by August Strindberg a few weeks ago and really liked it (it’s a play), so I thought I’d give another play a shot
Summary: Basically these two chaps, Jack and Algernon, both pretend to be named Ernest and fall in love with two different women who can’t imagine being married to a man who’s name isn’t Ernest. Both of them want to be re-Christened as Ernest, but before they have a chance, a shocking discovery changes the futures of these four young people.
My Thoughts: I couldn’t stop laughing the whole time I read this play. The whole time I knew Jack and Algernon were just going to get into deeper and deeper trouble. I found the whole concept of “Bunburying” hilarious and knew that it was just not going to end up well for the boys. Bunbury is a friend Algernon invented. He is often sick, which gives Algy the opportunity to go into the country to escape whatever London may hold for him whenever he feels like going to the country 🙂 A wonderful idea, if it can be pulled off. But Jack has a sort of Bunbury, in that he pretends to be two different people, depending on where he is (the country or the city). How can this turn out well?!
I used to say that I disliked reading plays. But, I think I have a more accurate theory now: I dislike plays written in Old English (aka, Shakespeare). As I mentioned above, I quite enjoyed Miss Julie when I read it at the beginning of the month. And that is one of the reasons I chose to read The Importance of Being Earnest. I didn’t really know anything about this play before I read it. I’ve seen part of the film with Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon–but the fact that those two actors are in the film was really the only thing I remembered about it. But this play is hilarious! It sort of reminded me of The Inimitable Jeeves, just because there is a lot of crazy stuff going on the whole time.
I think I’ll definitely have to read Pygmalion by Bernard Shaw now! I love My Fair Lady, so I think I’d really like the play. Although I’ve heard the ending of the play is a bit different than the end to the movie. It’s my understanding that the ending of the play is more definite, whereas the ending of the film is left a little open to interpretation.
Title: Miss Julie
Author: August Strindberg
Genre: play (naturalistic?)
Year Published: 1888
Reason for Reading: I wanted to read another DailyLit book, and this one looked interesting (I didn’t know it was a play)
Summary/Review (from Amazon.com):
“Full-length drama in one act by August Strindberg, published in Swedish as Froken Julie in 1888 and performed in 1889. Also translated into English as Countess Julie and Lady Julie, the play substitutes such interludes as a peasant dance and a pantomime for the conventional divisions of acts, scenes, and intermissions. Julie, an aristocratic young woman, has a brief affair with Jean, her father’s valet. After the sexual thrill has dissipated, they realize that they have little or nothing in common. Strindberg portrays Julie as a decaying aristocrat whose era has passed and Jean as an opportunistic social climber to whom the future beckons. ”
My Thoughts: Interestingly enough, the very beginning of this play made me chuckle a little. That’s not because the play was funny, but because it eerily paralleled Dirty Dancing. The “privileged” young woman goes to the “servants” dance on a summer’s night when she’s not supposed to be there. There is one servant, a young man named Jean (or Johnny in Dirty Dancing, practically the same name), who the lady likes to dance with. And even later in the play they have sex. But that’s where the similarities end–no watermelons in Miss Julie.
But I did quite enjoy the play. DailyLit is a website that emails you an installment of what you’re reading every day so you read it slowly. But there’s a link in each installment that, if clicked, gives you the next installment right away. This is what I did. Rather than read this slowly over 20 days, I read it all in one hour, before I even got out of bed! I can’t say what it was that interested me in the play 🙂 It just amused me that Julia and Jean went back and forth and back and forth with holding the power over one another. Jean might have been more mean-hearted because it seemed he really just wanted to mess up Julia’s life. But then it’s her fault in a way because she asked for it.
I don’t normally read plays–I think this has to do with the fact that I didn’t enjoy Shakespeare when made to read him in high school. But not all plays are written in such old English. If I had known Miss Julie was a play, I honestly might not have decided to read it. But now I know that I can handle plays 😀