20 for 2020 Challenge,  Show Notes

Episode 45: “The Importance of Being Earnest” Act 2

On today’s episode of The Literary Life podcast, Cindy, Thomas and Angelina cover Act 2 of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. Angelina is excited to share her research on the connection between the work of Oscar Wilde and P. G. Wodehouse. Cindy brings up Booth Tarkington’s Penrod books as another example of witty, humorous literature. Thomas points out the importance of cultural lens for appreciating humor in art. They also talk about all the puns that Wilde gives his characters in this play.

Angelina discusses the reformed rake motif in Victorian literature and how Wilde plays with this theme. Thomas gives a little background on the mentions of lending libraries and the three-volume novel. Cindy talks about the parallels between the Victorians’ high view of earnestness and our modern valuation of transparency. Angelina contrasts Oscar Wilde and his contemporary Thomas Hardy in the way that Wilde handles heavy topics with a light touch. They all agree that Wilde has an almost Shakespearean plot in complexity and manages to pull it all together at the end.

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Commonplace Quotes:

About the lack of religious education: of course you must be grieved, but remember how much religious education has exactly the opposite effect to that which was intended, how many hard atheists come from pious homes. May we not hope, with God’s mercy, that a similarly opposite effect may be produced in her case? Parents are not Providence: their bad intentions may be frustrated as their good ones.

C. S. Lewis

It is faintly amusing when one reads about society lapsing back into paganism. I, for one, would think it rather a picturesque incident if the Prime Minister were to sacrifice an ox in the temple of Venus.

C. S. Lewis

Hell is a state of mind – ye never said a truer word. And every state of mind, left to itself, every shutting up of the creature within the dungeon of its own mind – is, in the end, Hell. But Heaven is not a state of mind. Heaven is reality itself. All that is fully real is Heavenly. For all that can be shaken will be shaken and only the unshakeable remains.

C. S. Lewis

Ye Meaner Beauties

by Sir Henry Wotton

Ye meaner beauties of the night,
That poorly satisfy our eyes
More by your number than your light;
Ye common people of the skies,
What are you when the sun shall rise?

Ye curious chanters of the wood,
That warble forth Dame Nature’s lays,
Thinking your voices understood
By your weak accents; what’s your praise
When Philomel her voice shall raise?

Ye violets that first appear,
By your pure purple mantles known,
Like the proud virgins of the year,
As if the spring were all your own;
What are you when the rose is blown?

So, when my mistress shall be seen
In form and beauty of her mind,
By virtue first, then choice, a queen,
Tell me, if she were not design’d
Th’ eclipse and glory of her kind?

Book List:

Letters to an American Lady by C. S. Lewis

The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewi

Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens

Pamela by Samuel Richardson

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Tom Jones by Henry Fielding

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Psmith, Journalist by P. G. Wodehouse

An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde

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You can find Angelina and Thomas at HouseofHumaneLetters.com, on Instagram @angelinastanford, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ANGStanford/

Find Cindy at https://cindyrollins.net, on Instagram @cindyordoamoris and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/cindyrollins.net/. Check out Cindy’s own Patreon page also!

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