I’ve enjoyed Oscar Wilde’s wit through quotes and epigrams for some years now, but I finally read one of his works, The Importance of Being Earnest. It’s a “farcical comedy” three act play about two characters who uphold deceitful identities to wed women they love, and an aunt’s attempt to sabotage the engagements. One part in particular actually made me laugh out loud:
Algernon. All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.
Jack. Is that clever?
Algernon. It is perfectly phrased! and quite as true as any observation in civilised life should be.
Jack. I am sick to death of cleverness. Everybody is clever nowadays. You can’t go anywhere without meeting clever people. The thing has become an absolute public nuisance. I wish to goodness we had a few fools left.
Algernon. We have.
Jack. I should extremely like to meet them. What do they talk about?
Algernon. The fools? Oh! about the clever people, of course.
Jack. What fools!
I’m wary of that things written over a hundred years ago won’t be able to make me actually laugh, but this is a quick and enjoyable read. It’s satirical, has snappy dialogue, and is responsible for my new favorite term: Bunburying.
Read it for free with Project Gutenberg.