Published by Dover Publications on November 2nd 2011
Centering around the arrival of a mysterious woman hoping to break into London's society, this was Wilde's first great stage success. Lady Windermere learns from a friend that Lord Windermere is spending a great deal of time with a Mrs. Erlynne, and fearing that he is being unfaithful to her, she decides that their marriage is at an end. Then, in an act of striking generosity, Mrs. Erlynne protects Lady Windermere's reputation and the truth about trust and loyalty is ironically revealed.
I picked this book up a while ago thinking it was on the list for one of my classes. As it turned out they changed me to a different teacher, with a different class and we had different books. But I’d already bought this . Three years later I finally read it.
What did I find?
I feel this is a damning account of society back in the late 1800s. Back in the day when ladies ‘came out’ into society, made their debut and then married someone in their station. They hoped to marry for love but often were married off for money or prestige. And the heaven help them if they had sex before marriage and were found out. Or if they ran away from their relatively new husband and child, totally leaving them in the lurch. Society then decreed them to be outcasts and never to be spoken to again.
And there we have the basis of this play. The wording is such that it’s sometimes challenging to figure out what is being spoken about. I just wonder if dialogue happened that way in real life, if they spoke about things in an oblique manner rather than in open words as we tend to do on social media.
Reading this after having read about Oscar Wilde I find it interesting to note that he was quite outspoken about society. I do wonder if this was the reason for his success.
I’m not normally a play reading person unless I’m studying them in class, so I found this a challenge. Trying to remember to read the name of the person speaking every single time really slowed me down. I also dallied over the stage directions to try and figure out what was happening from a visual point of view. On the other hand being a fast reader I still finished this book in less than two days. It would be much better to see this on the stage, let someone else have the issues of figuring out the stage directions. I’m much better reading prose.
Should you be a play person and you haven’t read Lady Windermere’s Fan you can find it here. I’ve chosen for lowest price as it’s a really thin book but you can have whatever price or format you like.