Seven Classics under “comedy of manners”

A satire on society like no other. This method of satire was employed by Roman satirists since as early as the first century BC. Imagine the fun!
Much Ado About Nothing
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Much Ado About Nothing

by William Shakespeare

About the book:  Much Ado About Nothing includes two quite different stories of romantic love. Hero and Claudio fall in love almost at first sight, but an outsider, Don John, strikes out at their happiness. Beatrice and Benedick are kept apart by pride and mutual antagonism until others decide to play Cupid. The authoritative edition of Much Ado About Nothing from The Folger Shakespeare Library, the trusted and widely used Shakespeare series for students and general readers, is now available as an ebook. Features include: · The exact text of the printed book for easy cross-reference · Hundreds of hypertext links for instant navigation · Freshly edited text based on the best early printed version of the play · Full explanatory notes conveniently placed on pages facing the text of the play · Scene-by-scene plot summaries · A key to famous lines and phrases · An introduction to reading Shakespeare’s language · Illustrations from the Folger Shakespeare Library’s vast holdings of rare books · An essay by a leading Shakespeare scholar providing a modern perspective on the play

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The country-wife, 1675
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The country-wife, 1675

by William Wycherley

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The Way of the World
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The Way of the World

by William Congreve

About the book:  If seventeenth- and eighteenth-century comedy differ in that the former is about sex (and adultery actually happens) while the latter is about love (and adultery is merely threatened), then Congreve - writing at the turn of the century - occupies a phase of transition. Mirabell is no saint, but he deserves the title of 'hero' for masterminding the action with the same wit and humanity with which the dramatist designed the play. Mirabell is both financially and amorously interested in the skittish Millamant, who declares that she might, with certain provisos, 'dwindle into a wife'. The introduction to this edition clarifies the playwright's and his characters' highly intricate plotting and argues that the key metaphor of the play is card-playing, in which fortune, cunning, concealment and a high trump drawn from the sleeve at the right moment will win the game - and the heiress.

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She Stoops to Conquer
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She Stoops to Conquer

by Oliver Goldsmith

About the book:  She Stoops to Conquer was first performed in 1773, and remains popular today. Written by Irish playwright Oliver Goldsmith, it is a comedy of errors spanning the events of one night.

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The school for scandal: a comedy
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The school for scandal: a comedy

by Richard Brinsley Sheridan

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Lady Windermere's Fan
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Lady Windermere's Fan

by Oscar Wilde

About the book:  Lord Darlington. How do you do, Lady Windermere? Lady Windermere. How do you do, Lord Darlington? No, I can’t shake hands with you. My hands are all wet with these roses. Aren’t they lovely? They came up from Selby this morning. Lord Darlington. They are quite perfect. [Sees a fan lying on the table.] And what a wonderful fan! May I look at it? Lady Windermere. Do. Pretty, isn’t it! It’s got my name on it, and everything. I have only just seen it myself. It’s my husband’s birthday present to me. You know today is my birthday? Lord Darlington. No? Is it really? Lady Windermere. Yes, I’m of age today. Quite an important day in my life, isn’t it? That is why I am giving this party tonight. Do sit down. [Still arranging flowers.] Lord Darlington. [Sitting down.] I wish I had known it was your birthday, Lady Windermere. I would have covered the whole street in front of your house with flowers for you to walk on. They are made for you. [A short pause.] Lady Windermere. Lord Darlington, you annoyed me last night at the Foreign Office. I am afraid you are going to annoy me again. Lord Darlington. I, Lady Windermere? [Enter Parker and Footman C., with tray and tea things.] Lady Windermere. Put it there, Parker. That will do. [Wipes her hands with her pocket-handkerchief, goes to tea-table, and sits down.] Won’t you come over, Lord Darlington? [Exit Parker C.] Lord Darlington. [Takes chair and goes across L.C.] I am quite miserable, Lady Windermere. You must tell me what I did. [Sits down at table L.] Lady Windermere. Well, you kept paying me elaborate compliments the whole evening. Lord Darlington. [Smiling.] Ah, nowadays we are all of us so hard up, that the only pleasant things to pay are compliments. They’re the only things we can pay.

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Hay Fever
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Hay Fever

by Noel Coward

About the book:  First produced in 1925, Hay Fever is technically a masterpiece. A comedy of bad manners which starts with the arrival of four guests, invited independently by different members of the Bliss family for a weekend at their country house near Maidenhead. The promise of an idyllic and peaceful weekend is quickly trounced by the self-absorbed eccentricities of the family who leave the guests to slink away humiliated, embarrassed and abandoned. "It does not date... it is in the highest mood of fantastic comedy, it is deliciously heartless and therefore delicioiusly alive and fresh" The Times

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