Lady Windermere's Fan by Oscar Wilde
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Lady Windermere's Fan was Oscar Wilde's first produced play, and it was an instant success on the London stage. Chronicling a series of misunderstandings and deceptions in the high society world of Victorian London, critics and audiences alike were charmed by Wilde's trademark wit and intelligence. In the play, Lady Windermere considers leaving her husband of two years when she believes he's been unfaithful with a woman who turns out to be her own mother. Remarkably, it will be the mother who sets her straight without ever revealing her identity. In his letters, Wilde claimed that he did not want the play to be viewed as "a mere question of pantomime and clowning"; he was interested in the piece as a psychological study. Although the play has been deemed outdated by recent critics, Lady Windermere's Fan continues to entertain audiences all over the world.
In 1854 Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin to affluent parents. His father was a prominent surgeon and archaeologist; his mother was a witty poet, Irish nationalist, and feminist. Wilde excelled at the Portola Royal school and then at Trinity College, where he took the Gold Medal for Greek. In 1878 he won a scholarship to Magdalen College at Oxford. Wilde attracted a crowd of admirers for his witty, intellectual lectures and his outrageous cult of "aestheticism." He believed in art-for-art's-sake, a philosophy he had learned from his association with John Ruskin, an art critic and Oxford don. A very successful lecture tour of America in the early 1880s on "The Principles of Aestheticism" earned him much-needed income as well as an international reputation. His marriage to Constance Mary Lloyd in 1884 produced two children; it was during this time he wrote his best works: The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), Lady Windermere's Fan (1892), A Woman of No Importance (1893), An Ideal Husband (1895), and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). These works brought him financial success and the admiration of the literary circles. His reputation as an insightful,...