London: Leonard Smithers and Co., 1899. First edition. One of 1000 numbered copies. A Near Fine copy, spine toned, slight bubbling to cloth on front board, previous owner's bookplates and notes on front paste-down, Louis Auchincloss and Emily O'Neill Davies (wife of William H. Vanderbilt III). Slight abrasions at the top of the front free end paper and faint dampstain, likely to remove a bookplate.
Wilde's comedic masterpiece, a social satire, attempts to "treat all trivial things in life very seriously, and all serious things of life with a sincere and studied triviality." The importance of this work can hardly be overstated. As a comedic play, it is second only to Shakespeare. First performed on the stage in 1895, it received much critical acclaim and public approbation, but its run was short-lived. Shortly after opening, Wilde entered into legal battles which ultimately led to his imprisonment and subsequent exile to Paris. As a result, he would produce no other comic or dramatic work. To this day, Wilde's dialogues and word play in "The Importance of Being Earnest" continue to inspire and amuse audiences worldwide. Near Fine (Item #5177)