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'I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to one's self.'
An Ideal Husband is a comic drama of political and personal deceit. Sir Robert Chiltern is the 'ideal husband' of the play's title, a brilliant young politician, whose eloquence and high principles have set him on the path to high office. His wife, Lady Chiltern, shares his ideals and is a great society beauty. They have the 'ideal' social and political partnership, but Sir Robert has a secret: in order to finance his entry into politics, he once sold confidential information to a sinister international profiteer. Threatened with the revelation of this secret by the glamorous adventuress Mrs Cheveley, Sir Robert turns to his best friend Lord Goring for advice - and thanks to the wit and resourcefulness of this wit and dandy, he has every prospect of being rescued from the revelations that would destroy his social and political career. Wilde's play was first performed in January 1895, the year of his own disgrace and imprisonment.
This student edition contains a fully annotated version of the playtext. The introduction includes an account of Wilde's life and a detailed analysis of An Ideal Husband as well as of its stage history.
Russell Jackson is Allardyce Nicoll Professor of Drama at the University of Birmingham. He has published widely on theatre history, including Shakespearean performance, and especially Shakespeare in the cinema. His books include Shakespeare Films in the Making, The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Film and The Oxford Illustrated History of Shakespeare on Stage (with Jonathan Bate).
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Russell Jackson is a Fellow of the Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham.Review:
An ideal Christmas play and a play for all seasons. Sunday Times, John Peter, 23/12/2007 'Hugely entertaining, a curious mixture of melodrama, Wilde's distinctinve epigrammatic wit and sudden moments of deeper feeling' Daily Telegraph - Charles Spencer, 11.11.10 'Oscar Wilde's ability to satirise the hollowness of our social and political life remains remarkably undimmed... it resonates with a loud topical ring considering the various antic today's MPs have been up to when filling out their expense sheets' Daily Express - Paul Callan, 12.11.10 'Energetically entertaining - a glossy melodrama...studded with smart lines and, more surprisingly, imbued with humanity' Evening Standard - Henry Hitchings, 12.11.10 'A shrewd depiction of naked ambition and a serious debate about what really constitutes goodness' Financial Times - Sarah Hemming, 12.11.10 'A masterwork of good-humoured, charitable insight into human frailty' Independent - Paul Taylor, 12.11.10 'A play which smuggles subtlety in under farce and melodrama' Observer - Susannah Clapp, 14.11.10 'A fascinating, psychologically penetrating study of the pursuit of power and the cost of success... A work that shows Wilde at his most wittily serious and subversively moral' Sunday Times - Christopher Hart, 14.11.10 'a play that flirts with melodrama. dabbles with farce and in which the emotionally remote upper classes are brought down to earth' Jewish Chronicle - John Nathan, 19.11.10 'An Ideal Husband' fizzes with wit, reverence and daring' Sunday Express - Mark Shenton, 21.11.10
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