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Travesties

The Importance of Being Earnest

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: James Thomson Biography to Hugh [Redwald] Trevor-Roper Baron Dacre Biography

a play by Tom Stoppard, performed in 1974, published in 1975. Though there are occasional jumps to a later period, the play occurs mainly in Zurich during the First World War, at a time when Lenin, Joyce, and the Dadaist Tristan Tzara were living in the city. They all appear, as does a British consular official named Henry Carr, who sued Joyce for the cost of a pair of trousers in a production of The Importance of Being Earnest in 1917. Out of this historical curiosity, Stoppard builds a wild extravaganza which includes Wildean pastiche, limericks, striptease, and a lecture in Marxist theory, while simultaneously discussing a subject on which all his main characters have strong opinions, the place of the artist in society.

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