Journal Article

From Faltering Arrow to Pistol Shot: <i>The Importance of Being Earnest</i>

Eva Thienpont

in The Cambridge Quarterly

Published on behalf of Cambridge Quarterly

Volume 33, issue 3, pages 245-255
Published in print January 2004 | ISSN: 0008-199X
Published online January 2004 | e-ISSN: 1471-6836 | DOI:
From Faltering Arrow to Pistol Shot: The Importance of Being Earnest

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Since 1966, the editors of the Collins Complete Works of Oscar Wilde have chosen to print the reconstructed four-act text of The Importance of Being Earnest rather than the better-known version in three acts. The authoritative French Pléiades edition (1966) followed suit, arguing, like Collins, that since Wilde converted his original four-act play into a three-acter at the instigation of George Alexander, the four-act version is the play as Wilde intended it to be. This essay opposes this view and seeks, through a reading of the significant details of both texts, to establish the superiority of the three-act version.

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Subjects: Literature ; Art ; Film ; Music

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