The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde: The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde: Volume IX Plays 2: Lady Lancing; Volume X Plays 3: The Importance of Being Earnest

ISBN : 9780198119586

Joseph Donohue
1440 Pages
Multiple Copy Pack
135 x 216 mm
Pub date
Oct 2018
Complete Works Oscar Wilde
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  • Fully annotated critical editions of two of Wilde's plays, with extensive commentaries and additional materials
  • Provides a full compendium of new knowledge and understanding of these works, in their own time and beyond
  • Comprehensive, near-book length historical and editorial introductions
  • The first full critical edition of Lady Lancing
  • Allows systematic insight into the differences between these two related texts, and the implications for understanding the differing ambitions of author and producer
  • The most authoritative edition of the fragmentary Wife's Tragedy, set here in the context of Wilde's developing dramaturgy

This two-volume addition to the Complete Works of Oscar Wilde contains full critical editions of two plays, Lady Lancing and The Importance of Being Earnest. These authoritative editions are based on all surviving manuscript material and other relevant documents. Composed rapidly between August and October of 1894 as a generically unorthodox four-act 'Serious Comedy for Trivial People', Lady Lancing was never produced or published in Wilde's lifetime. Unexpectedly, it was taken over by the actor-manager George Alexander, transformed over the author's objections into a three-act farcical comedy, and produced as The Importance of Being Earnest at Alexander's St James's Theatre, London, in February 1895. Published only in 1899, in an edition extensively revised by the author, it has never subsequently been out of print. Lady Lancing, meanwhile, has come to latter-day critical and scholarly attention as the first fruits of Wilde's brilliant concept of a new kind of farcical dramatization. Also included in this publication is a reconstructed edition of a dramatic fragment by Wilde, A Wife's Tragedy, based on a single, undated surviving manuscript.

In addition to annotated critical editions of the two plays themselves, accompanied by extensive commentaries, these two volumes contain several historical and critical accounts of the long, complex early history of these two separate but closely related compositions. These accounts trace the gestation of Lady Lancing and its transformation into The Importance of Being Earnest and describe the abrupt closing of the first production of The Importance as a consequence of Wilde's ill-fated lawsuit against the Marquess of Queensberry for criminal libel in April 1895 and the two subsequent trials of Wilde himself for 'gross indecency', ending in his conviction and incarceration. These accounts are augmented by descriptions of the fascinating textual history of the two plays and are supplemented by appendices that provide additional information about Lady Lancing and The Importance of Being Earnest, including a survey of first production reviews, an acting script of In the Season (the curtain-raiser included in first-production performances), a tabular comparison of the texts of Lady Lancing and The Importance of Being Earnest, and a summary of the process by which the play became a perennial, international theatrical classic.


Volume IX: Plays 2 
Historical Introduction, Part 1
Historical Editorial Introduction, Part 1
LADY LANCING A Serious Comedy for Trivial People, in four acts
Commentary, Part 1
Appendix 1: The November 1894 typescript of Act I
Appendix 2: The redaction of Lady Lancing: parallel texts
Volume X: Plays 3 

Historical Introduction, Part 2
Historical Editorial Introduction, Part 2
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST A Trivial Comedy for Serious People, in three acts
Appendix 3: An account of Opening Night, with a selection of reviews
Appendix 4: In the Season, by Langdon Mitchell
A WIFE'S TRAGEDY (fragment)

About the author: 

Joseph Donohue is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he taught dramatic literature from 1971 to 2005. He is a theatre historian and editor and scholar of dramatic text. Author and editor of numerous books, articles, and reference works, he has published a prize-winning annotated edition of the reconstructed first-production text of Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest and a translation into English of Wilde's original French-language Salome. His professional accomplishments include the presidency of the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR), senior fellowships or fellowships from the Folger Shakespeare Library, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, his ten-year editorship of the journal Nineteenth Century Theatre, and awards from the ASTR and the Modern Language Association of America.

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